Friday, August 06, 2004


Breadfruit Festival

As part of Vincentian Emancipation Month celebrations a Breadfruit Festival will be held on Aug,21 in Chateaubelair. Breadfruit came to these shores in 1793 courtesy of Captain Bligh as a staple intended for slaves. Indeed, St Vincent was the first Caribbean Country where it was introduced. If you were to pay a visit to the Botanical Gardens( the oldest established Gardens in the Western Hemisphere) in Kingstown you would see a sucker from the original tree that Captain Bligh planted.

In St Vincent the breadfruit holds pride of place. So much so that roast breadfruit and jackfish or saltfish (depending on the person you talk to) is the national dish. While, it is reported that the slaves apparently did not take a liking to breadfruit their descendants are now singing its praises . Breadfruit is so much a part of the national psyche that it has found its way into everyday language. Vincentians were once accused by the former PM Mitchell as having "breadfruit mentality" which probably meant they only remember their last meal. To cut down one's breadfruit tree is to take away their livelihood and people talk about getting a breadfruit box (coffin) if they can't afford one from the funeral homes. Of course many a home has been constructed from the wood gained from the tree which further reinforces the versatility of this plant.

That is interesting use of the breadfruit tree; to build and for furniture. I don't think they use the breadfruit tree as lumber around my way. At least I have never heard of it.

But it (the fruit) is a well liked staple here in Dominica; especially in my family. It seems that there is no more "breadfruit season" either. When I was a girl it used to be August Holidays. Now we get breadfruit year round in Dominica.

We have perfected ways to prepare that thing, roasted, steamed, fried, pung, in salads and pies; my mum even uses it as a substitute for lasanga noodles!

I good breadfruit is hard to resist.
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