Callaloo

“Honored in a classic calypso tune, this ubiquitous Caribbean stew came to the islands in the seventeenth century from Africa.  According to the song, the spicy dish of stewed greens has the power to induce any man who eats it to propose to the woman who prepared it.  Small wonder its appeal has been so enduring.

On the ground, callaloo is also often used as the name of the plants whose leaves provide the base for the dish; these differ from region to region, but are most often either of the spinach-like taro or amaranth variety.  Cooked, they have a bright emerald color, a pleasingly silky texture, and a warm, sunny flavor reminiscent of collard greens, though more complex.

When used in the famously flavor-packed stew, the gently simmered greens are added to the pot at the last minute, so that they won’t overcook and lose their deep-green color.  An array of traditional ingredients and spices precedes them, most notably onion, okra, and garlic, as well as coconut milk, chiles, and yams or green bananas; depending on the region, these will be joined by a little salt pork, salt cod, beef, or crabmeat.  Although it is usually served alongside meat dishes, callaloo served as a main course might be bolstered with sweet and sticky dumplings and served piping hot with rice and slices of avocado — and it might well be followed by an offer of marriage.”

Quoted from 1,000 Foods To Eat Before You Die, by Mimi Sheraton, found at Wide World Books and Maps in Wallingford.


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