Thursday, 15 September 2011

When in Rome...

I have been eating a lot of Jamaican food these days.  And I have even been so fortunate to have home-cooked Jamaican food, which really is better then the stuff at the restaurants.  There is a little kitchen in the community center, so some days Miss Rose, one of the staff, cooks everybody lunch.

This was lunch on Friday last week.  There is rice, obviously, and then on the left the yellow stuff is ackee, which is cooked with onions and saltfish.  The saltfish is actually salted, dried cod that mostly comes from New Brunswick.  The ackee is a fruit that Jamaicans LOVE, and now I do too. When cooked, it has a texture a bit like scrambled eggs, and a very mild flavour.  Oma, I think you would really like it.  The weird thing about ackee is that parts of the fruit are poisonous and so it has to be cleaned properly.  The fruit comes in a pod, and you have to buy it with the pod open, because it can emit a poisonous gas if it isn't opened properly.  More details here if you want.

Another item of note - because I am situated in a community centre the language surronding me every day is not usually English, but Jamaican patois (also spelled patwa).  This really is another language, not just a dialect, and usually I only understand half of what is going on. I'm slowly learning, though, and one day I'll post in patois.  Until then, here's a sample:

Jamaicans learn British English in school so most of the time I'm just suffering through a Jamaican accent, but patois is quite the challenge.  It is a very descriptive language.  The tendency is to use simple words, but lots of similes and metaphors. People also tend to respond using face and hand gestures, not just words, so I have lots to pay attention too.

Today I'm back in Kingston, meeting with the staff and other volunteers at the Dispute Resolution Foundation head office.  I will be here until the end of the week and return to Mobay on Sunday.  Those of you putting on fall jackets, keep warm!


  1. I agree. Once we get more settled we should see if there are resources that we can share!

    I know exactly what you are talking about with the Patois. Guyanese Creolese is more than an accent or a dialect but sometimes truly is another language. So many of the youth use it and being a mash up of African languages, Indian, Dutch, French and English... lets just say I spend a lot of time saying 'sorry could you please repeat that'.

  2. Whew, and I thought I had it bad with Scots English!! Have fun!