Sorrel Rum Punch

“To Europeans and the fans of their food, sorrel denotes a tart, spinachlike herb used in soups and sauces.  But in the Caribbean and in parts of the Middle East, it refers to a tropical bushy shrub (Hibiscus sabdariffa), also known as hibiscus or roselle.  The plant came to the Caribbean from India via British colonists, and arrived in Jamaica in the eighteenth century.  Its edible red petals taste like a cross between rhubarb and cranberry, a flavor that becomes the eye-opening, sweet-tart basis for the lively, garnet-colored Christmas drink of Jamaica.

To make it, the dried red blossoms (also enjoyed preserved in jams and chutneys) are covered with boiling water and steeped with sugar and sometimes a little ginger, until the liquid becomes syrupy.  Served ice cold, the sorrel mixture is combined with dark rum and diluted with water for a drink that is fragrant, quenching, and intoxicating — a punch that looks like liquid rubies, garnished with vivid, cranberry-red sorrel buds.”

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


“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.