Tag Archives: culture

Letter #4

12 Aug

Ola all,

If you didn’t hear from me Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and Happy New Year. I am sure that everyone had a great time. I am happy to say that I spent my Holiday season in Mozambique. And no worries it was spent with some great people and I had a wonderful time. Since the year has come to a close I thought this letter would be not just about the great things that are happening here but also some of the difficulities that I am facing. I would love to paint an only rosy picture but that of course would not be 100% true.   So this letter is the Good, the Bad and the Fabulous. Lol

Let’s start with the Good. I LOVE Manhica. And I want to make sure that everyone knows why. It is the people. The people here are the best people you will ever meet. Friendly, caring and truly want the best for you. For example, during the Holiday season my phone decided to stop working. It stopped working on a Saturday. I went to town on a Sunday trying to buy a new phone, but everywhere was closed. I started talking to a shop owner that I have befriended. At first he said that he would give me his phone if he had one. Then he went out on the street and found a boy who had a phone that he was willing to sell. The boy was trying to sell it for a price I would not take 250MTs equivalent to about $10.00, not a lot but it wasn’t worth it since I still had to buy a new phone.. So the shop owner, Micheal is his name told me to give him 100MTs. Micheal then gave the other 100MTs and told the boy to take a ring from his store for the balance. Those are the kinds of people I meet here.

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Also at this shop is a Mozambican girl named Innocencia. I sit with her almost every other day. She is sweet girl, 20 years old. And has big dreams of doing something with her life, traveling the world and finishing her education.

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Those are just some people in town who I have grown to love. Then there is my school. Here in Manhica.

I have meet some amazing people that really are taking care of me. I will start with Tinga. If you have skyped with me then you have most likely seen him. He has been here with me during the holiday times when no one else is at the school. He is the art teacher here and was an orphan. He has worked himself into his position and he loves what he does. He is the person I primarily speak Portuguese with since everyone else speaks English!!

Then there is Micas. The Music Teacher. He invited me to his wedding the weekend before Chirstmas. He is an awesome guy who calls just to check on me and make sure that I am still alive.

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Daniel is the 3rd English Teacher here at school. He has also worked with volunteers for many years. I have kind off adopted his family. I spent Chirstmas at his house, cooked with his wife and had a great time. Although Daniel is on a quest to find me and every other volunteer Mozambican husbands. I think it’s just because he doesn’t like to see us go. Lol

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Then we have Professor Lima, he is a music teacher at the school I hope to work with as my secondary project. He is extremely passionate about music and dance. His school was constructed with the help of volunteers a few years ago and he has been working to keep it up every since. Difficult because the students can’t pay regularly and it is hard for him to commit all of his time to the school since he doesn’t get paid. He is also an English teacher and would love to quit his job and work with at the Music School all the time but money would be an issue.

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So that is the good.

The bad.. I hate insects.. bugs, everyone who knows me knows that. And here ofcourse they are in abundance. To start many of you may have heard about my cockroach problem. My house was literally overrun with cockroaches.. I spent two weeks cleaning out every nook and cranny in the house. I went through 10.. yes 10 cans of bug spray! And I couldn’t cook. Thank goodness for Tinga who feed me for the week that I was on a no food in the house strike. Glad to say now though there are virtually none left. One every once in a while I can deal with, but..ugghh..… Also, mosquitos looove me.. My legs are scared from Mosquito bites right now. I don’t know what I need to do but I am looking at something that I can get to keep the mosquitoes away and now reduce the scars I have.

Next bad is the pressure. As much as I love Manhica, this is a place where the volunteer before me made a wonderful lasting impression. I hate to compare myself to other people but I can’t help it and all that I think about is well dam.. what is everyone gonna think if I don’t do the same things she did or act the same way she did. But one PC rule is never to compare yourself to other volunteers. I am trying to keep that in mind and assess what the community needs and try to help out in a way that I can rather than only continuing what the previous volunteers may have done.

Final as much as I love passaering (walking around) in the community and making new friends and hanging out with people. There is A LOT of down time right now. You have to really work to not occupy your thoughts with things that can make you nuts. Especially on the Malaria meds! LoL J/k But it is quite a challenge to find things to do and occupy your time. You can only hang out with people so much and getting into town isn’t the most fun journey either. So I am relying on Portuguese movies, the library and Game of Thrones, and The Wire. LOL. Which brings me to something very important. IF ANYONE CAN GET ME THE NEW SEASON OF GAME OF THRONES, SCANDAL etc.. on a USB drive or something I would LOOOVVVEE You!

Now the Fabulous!

 

Again I love it here. My holiday was spent cooking with wonderful people and trying to speak Portuguese. Lol Yeah TRYING! It is still a challenge, but I love it. I love sending texts in Portuguese and having people understand what I am saying and understanding what people are saying. I am excited to start teaching at Chibututuine. I was able to sit in on the graduation of the previous class and it was beautiful. This week we start the entrance exams and interviews for the new class coming in. I can’t wait to meet my students and get back into a classroom.

 

My favorite place on a hot day is Casa Fresca, an awesome café (restaurant..lol)that serves anything from pig head and xima to hamburgers! My view is awesome, we are on a cliff  and the view of  mountains in the background that is the beach that we walked to that I mentioned a few letters ago.

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Thank you for the emails, messages, videos and skype convos. As much as I love it here I miss you all! I am still working on my school library here so if anyone has Essence or Ebony Magazines, and even Times, Newsweek, People anything please send what you can. Also, if you can send me your mailing address that would be great. I would like to keep it in a file so if I ever need to send anything I can just sent it.

Fica Bem!

Dione

Letter #2

5 Aug

Letter 4

November 5, 2013

It has now been over a month that I have lived in Mozambique. Now has really been the time for me to become more and more a part of the Mozambican culture. This has also included introducing Mozambique to the American culture and exploring more of the country.

To start, I was able to attend a Mozambican wedding. Where the Bride and Groom were members of my Mae’s church. This was a wedding, of course, like I had never seen before, the music, the food, everything. Everything in Mozambique has a very community communal format, so the gifts part of wedding was a display by various communities that were invited, singing and presenting gifts to the new couple while they sat. Gifts included a new couch set, pots and pans, a dresser set, and other house hold items. It was an amazing event, also took place in an incomplete building. No ceiling and no windows. Thank goodness it didn’t rain. Which brings me to another point. It is freezing cold in Mozambique, I froze my butt off during that wedding, and all of the little old ladies were giving me their capulanas trying to keep me warm. After the ceremony I was ushered up to the front where I stood there with the bride and groom while they cut the cake… LOL very awkward but I was much honored.

 

To continue to sharing of cultures this month we held a lunch with the Mae’s of our community. This meant that the Mae’s would cook food for our language group of traditional Mozambican dishes and we would cook an American dish for them. Our group decided to make chicken tacos and crepes. Yumm! Our Mae’s made a traditional dish of chove, a green leafy vegetable, in a coconut sauce and a chicken stew. I love chove, it is delicious and the food here is delicious as well. Of course, since we are in Mozambique, making chicken means killing chicken and guess who got to do the honors??!! LOL yup! I am now a professional chicken killer!! Two chickens’ dead, later I was on an adrenaline rush! lol After though, I did get my first bout of sickness in Mozambique, probably because killing chicken and then working with those same bloody hands without any proper way of washing them included crazy cross-contamination. Lol. But I am ok, I survived (painfully) but I survived! Our Mae’s cringed and grinned through the chicken tacos, don’t know if they liked them that much but we thought they were delicious!

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Halloween also passed, one of my favorite times of the year, sooo ofcourse I thought I would be a great idea to introduce our families to our American Halloween by holding a Halloween Fair for the criancas in Namaacha. Yeah, I am already on a planning craze.. So a committee got together and planned games, face painting, put the head on the skeleton and a dance party. We gave out candy as prizes and all of the volunteers brought the criancas in their families out for it. It was great, the kids loved it and we got to celebrate Halloween and say thank you to the community that has taken us under their wing! Also, in the planning phase a few of us we able to take a trip out of Namaacha to Maputo, the capital to do some purchasing.

Although trying to find Halloween decorations in Mozambique is quite a challenge, but we made due with orange paper towels..lol using our resources, Peace Corps 101! I dressed up as a Black Cat jar, which is the name of the Peanut Butter Brand here.

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This month has also included a lot of travel. We were able to get in quite a few hikes, one we have called the three corners. This is because once you get to the top of the mountain you are standing where there are the borders of three countries, Swaziland, Mozambique and South Africa. That is a beautiful view.

We were also able to visit the site of one of the volunteers that works at a Teacher Training school, similar to one where I will possibly be working. Her site is in a town called Manhica, in Maputo Province. There were did a 4 hour hike to a GORGEOUS beach. On the way we got a few rides, which speaks to the beauty of the Mozambican people, in one car there are 5 of us in the trunk of a truck and a total of about 11 people in the car. We are squished in trunk and when it was time to get out we realized that the bag strap and hook of one of the volunteers was stuck in the trunk and the door would not open. We tried everything, but that door was stuck. We finally had to cut the bag, but the door would still not open. With no attitude and no rush, the lady who gave us the ride apologized a million times for the fact that we had to cut the bag. Mind you, she had given us a ride, her door was the one that the broken, getting it fixed would cost ten times more than the bag, and she was Mozambican.

During our hike we also had no clue where we were going, we had to ask along the way, the final leg of the journey we walked through a village where the mother told her children to walk with us to the beach, this group of children walked and entertained us for the entire way, few of them actually speaking Portuguese but the local language of Chengana. When we got to the beach they jumped in the water. We laid around, some of us went into the water and then after a while we were all laying on the sand. The children eventually came out of the water, put on their clothes and we watched and waved as they just walked away. That simple, no hassle, no fuss. That is this country.

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You may have heard about some political unrest in Mozambique, but no worries, we haven’t been effected, except for some travel restrictions. Besides that you would never know anything was going on.

Portuguese is coming along, I have had my first few conversations with various people in Portuguese, but it is coming too slow for my tastes. I decided I need to start putting myself out there more and just speaking to more people, but it is tough. Our days are packed full of stuff and by time the night comes I am exhausted. Please send letters (I love getting them) to the Peace Corps Address I sent a while back. As for a wish list…I don’t really have one. I am not really missing anything. Hair products are a little tough to find, but besides that, Surprise me!

If anyone sees Chirstopher Ortiz, tell him I receive his letter, although it is difficult to get mail out of Mozambique I will try to get one back to him. I am also slowly responding to email. People with IPhones are doing well out here, they have internet access at their fingers, but I don’t have one nor am I planning to get one, so I have to rely on our modems which I have to buy credit for on top of my phone credit. Blah.. lol

Hope everyone is doing well over in the states. Please send life updates! Miss you all!

RECIPE #15: Jamaican Escoveitch Fish

9 Apr

My dad, the backseat cook (lol), has insisted that we are eating too much of the same meat.  So he decided that he would buy fish, tripe, beef kidneys, and other pieces of meat that I have never eaten…ummmm..I decided to start with the fish. Luckily the COOKBOOK has other fish recipes, and I found escoveitch fish! I’ve had this at Jamaican restaurants, and although the fish is delicious it’s the onions and carrots that I always go back for. I’ll worry about the other pieces of meat another time!

Here is the recipe from the book:

  • 2 lbs fresh fish
  • juice of 2 limes
  • salt
  • black pepper
  • oil
  • 1-2 cho cho or cucumbers
  • 2 onions
  • 2 hot peppers, scotch bonnet
  • 2 tablespoons pimento berries
  • 1 cup vineger

Clean and wash the fish, rub them with the lime juice, and dry them with a kitchen cloth or paper.  Sprinkle them on both sides and inside with salt and pepper.  heat plenty of oil in a frying pan until it is very hot and begins to smoke very slightly.  Place the fish in the hot oil one at a time, taking care that they do not overlap.  Reduce the heat a little and fry the fish on both sides.  If they are difficult to turn, then the oil was not hot enough.  Leave them for a couple minutes to allow the underside to brown, then turn.  When the fish are done, drain them and arrange them on a large platter or in a deep bowl.

In the meantime, peel the cho chos and cut them into halves and then into long strips.  Put them in a saucepan with the onions, hot peppers, pimento, vinegar and a little salt to taste.  Bring the mixture to a boil simmer for 2 minutes or so, then remove it from the heat.  Pour this hot pickle over the fish.  The fish can marinate for 1 hour to 3 days.  Can be served hot or cold.

O.K Here is what I did!

The best fish for this is the red snapper, I got pretty big snapper because I couldn’t find anything smaller.  If you can find smaller fish, then please use them, the big ones complicate things! Image

I cleaned and washed those babies, and then salted and peppered the inside and the outside. I couldn’t find a pan to fit them in tho.. LOL. I had to use my bridge burner and a long pan.  I heated the oil until it was smoking and then carefully placed the fish down…. do this carefully, i splashed the first time. I let them cook for 4-6 minutes and then flipped. Image

While that was cooking I sliced up my onions, cucumbers (cause I’m still not sure what cho cho’s are, lol), onions and hot peppers. I sliced these into thin strips.

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I placed my sliced pieces into a pot with vinegar, I used apple cider vinegar.  I let it boil and then simmer for a few minutes.

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Once the onions and carrots were more translucent, but not soft I wanted them to have some crunch, I poured my mixture over the fish.

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I let this sit over night.

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Then served!

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Notice I cut the fish in half, and had two pieces.  Don’t be intimidated by the fish head, you can also ask your butcher to cut the heads off and just do the tail end.  My mother happens to looooove the fish head. This was delicious. The onions and carrots tasted exactly how I wanted them to. Next time I will spice it up another notch!!

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Keep it Spicy!!

RECIPE 12#: Fricasseed Chicken (Brown Stew Chicken…?)

3 Mar

So I was told today that I need to slow down. Apparently, I have cooked so much that we have food for days, we can’t eat it fast enough. So I didn’t cook all week. My hands were itching to get to the pot.  I had chicken in the fridge and I went searching for brown stew chicken in The COOKBOOK, but I couldn’t find it.  The only thing I found was  Fricasseed Chicken, the recipe sounds very similar to Brown Stew Chicken, so maybe that’s it?

Here is the recipe from the book

  • 1 chicken, 4lb
  • juice of 1 lime
  • salt
  • black pepper
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 sprig fresh thyme
  • 2 onions
  • 2 tomatoes
  • 3-4 slices of hot pepper
  • 1 whole hot pepper
  • 1/4 cup oil
  • 2-3 cups water

Wash and dry the chicken, removing any feathers still remaining on it.  Rub it all over with the lime juice.  Cut into joints and place them in a bowl.  Season with salt and plenty black pepper, add garlic, thyme, onions, tomatoes, and hot pepper.  Mix well and leave the chicken to marinate for 15 mins.

Remove the chicken pieces from the bowl, and fry them in oil until very brown.  Fry as many pieces as the pan will hold without overlapping, and when they are all browned, remove them from the pan.  Take the pan off the heat for a minute or so for it to cool a little, then lower the heat, put the pan back, and scape in the seasoning in which the chicken was marinated.  Stir for a minutes or so, then pour the water, bring to a boil, and add the chicken pieces.  Cover the pan and simmer for 1 hour or until the chicken is tender but not falling apart.  Be careful not to break the whole hot pepper.

Taste the juices for salt and if the gravy is too liquid, reduce it by increasing the heat, leaving the cover off, until the excess liquid evaporates.  Remove the whole pepper before serving.

Here is what I did:

First of all, there was noooo way I was plucking feathers of a chicken for the morning. I decided to just use the chicken I had in the fridge, which were just drumsticks. I cleaned it and then seasoned the chicken with all of the spices, (a little extra hot pepper and salt lol) and I marinated the chicken over night.

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The next day, I took the chicken out and picked of the seasonings to fry.  If you fry it with the seasonings, such as onion, still attached the seasoning will burn and make the oil pop. It’s an extra step, but very worth it. I used a mix of half oil and half butter.  I fried the chicken, just a few at a time.

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I removed each piece, once it was browned on all sides, and continued until the entire batch was cooked.  Then I put them to the side.

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I could have eaten them then…if they weren’t still raw.  Don’t eat them yet.. lol

Then I added the seasoning to the pot.

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Yumm…Once, those were giving off a delicious aroma, I added a little water. A little less than the recipe called for, because for some reason I am not good at reducing water down.

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I added the chicken back to the pot and covered the pot for an hour. The water did reduce well this time.. surprise surprise… the one time I add less water…smh.  Once it was done, yumm.. very flavorful, not too spicy but I didn’t mind. The next day the chicken was even better. I served it with white rice and avocado slices. Image

Notice..I am working on my plating skills.. LOL!! How am I doing?

RECIPE #11: jAMAICAN CURRIED SHRIMP

25 Feb

Today when I got up my father offered to make breakfast.  He also told me he put a new battery in my computer.  These random acts of kindness are not all that random..I think he is just really just trying to butter me up.  He may be more exciting about my journey than I am.  LOL..  Grocery story shopping has become so interesting, now I am trying not to get the same meats over and over again. Then I realized we haven’t eaten shrimp in a while. Decided to see what the COOKBOOK had for shrimp.  Curried Shrimp yum! Curry is so good, and similar to jerk seasonings, you can curry almost anything. So curried Shrimp it is! Although, warning from now, ladies, If you just got your nails done you may want to wait before making this dish. You will find out why at the end.

Here is the recipe from the book:

  • 2lbs fresh shirmp
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1fl oz oil
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons curry powder
  • 1 tomato, chopped
  • 3-4 slices hot pepper
  • 1 sweet pepper, chopped (optional)
  • salt
  • blackpepper
  • 1 1/2 cups water

Shell the shrimps, then fry them gently in the butter and oil with the onions and garlic.  Add the curry powder, stirring it for a few seconds, then add the tomato, hot pepper, sweet pepper, salt and black pepper,  Pour in the water, bring to a boil, then lower the heat to medium.  The dish should be ready in 10 minutes or when the sac has reduces and thickened.

OK Here is what I did:

I followed the recipe almost exactly, I bought a pack of frozen shrimp already shelled and cleaned. I just rinsed them off.

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I also added a some salt to the shrimp before I began frying.  I fried the shrimp with the onions and garlic in the butter and oil mix. The smell was divine!

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I fried the shrimp slowly, and soon they  turned that gorgeous pink color. Image

Then, I added my curry. I have curry that I bought from a Jamaican bakery. They sell nice big bags that are made in Jamaica.  But they sell curry in almost every grocery story now.

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Smelling good!! I added water, and then covered the pot to let it simmer.

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I served mine up with white rice! It was so good dad went back for seconds, so did I. LOL

The only thing I would change about this recipe is adding less water.  I wanted my sauce to be a little thicker.  Besides that the shrimps were spicy and delicious. The only thing about curry is that it stains.  Curry will stain everything, your clothes, your hand, your skin, your nails. Look at my palm a day later from where I placed a drop to taste the sauce!

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No worries, it will fade away.  Besides, it was all worth it!

Recipe #10: Jamaican Oxtails

19 Feb

If you are planning on a quick meal, this is not the one! Oxtails are delicious, but definitely take some planning. I’ve never had oxtails outside of a Jamaican bakery or restaurant, so homemade oxtails are an adventure. Lately, I hear more and more people in the states asking for oxtails, good to see people broadening their horizons!!

Here is the recipe from the book:

  • 2lb oxtail
  • 1/4 cup oil
  • 5 cups water
  • 2 tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic, chopped
  • 1 spring thyme
  • 3 slices hot pepper
  • salt and black pepper
  • 1/2 lb cooked broad beans

Wash and dry the pieces of oxtail and brown them in oil.  Add 4 cups of water, bring to a boil, then lower and simmer until the oxtail is tender, adding more water if necessary.  Reduce the sauce to a thick gravy by increasing the heat, then add the tomatoes, onions, garlic, thyme, hot pepper, salt and black pepper.  stir for a few minutes, then add the remaining water and broad beans.  Mix them in, lower the hear, cover again, and simmer for 10 minutes or until the water evaporates leaving a thick gravy.  Serve with rice.

OK here is what I did:

First of all, I decided to marinate my oxtails first. So I added the oxtails, onions, thyme, garlic, hot pepper, salt and pepper in a bowl and refrigerated it over night. I also added some browning to make sure that I got some color on my oxtails. Image

Next day, I went ahead and fried the oxtails. Got them nice and brown, I fried a few pieces at a time and  removed them from the pot. Image

Once my batch was browned, I added everything back and covered the meat with water.

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Now this part takes a while, Oxtails are a pretty tough cut of meat. So I let them simmer for about 2 hours, to get the meat really tender. To the point that it was falling of the bone. Then I added all of the other ingredients. Broad beans are just another word for butter beans.  I got nervous about the flavor and also added a little more salt and pepper.

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I let all of that go for about another hour and served it up with a fresh batch of rice and peas.

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The oxtails were delicious.  If they cook for as long as I said then they come out nice and tender. Meat was falling off the bone! YUM!  Mom said she wanted it spicier tho! LOL.. always can be spicier!

Recipe #9: Saltfish and PawPaw (Papaya)

18 Feb

The recipe book said “Saltfish and Pawpaw.”  My first question.. what in the world is paw paw?! My father says that he thinks that at some point in his life he has had salt fish and papaya.  His mother may have cooked it for him and that is the last time he has ever had it. Just goes to show how old school some of these recipes are.  I have never heard of salt fish and papaya, ever! Matter a fact, before this project I had never even opened up a papaya… Made me a little nervous…Here goes…

Here is the recipe from the book:

  • 1/2 lb salt cod
  • 2lb green papaya
  • 6 slilces of bacon
  • oil
  • 2 onions
  • 1 tomato
  • 4 slices hot pepper
  • 1 spring of thyme
  • 1 cup water

Boil the salt cod in water for 15 minutes.  In the meantime peel and slice the pawpaw, discard the seeds, and set it aside.  When the fish is cooked, put it under some running water to cool, then remove the skin and bones and flake the fish.

Fry the bacon in a little oil, then remove from the pan and set aside.  Add the onions, tomato, hot pepper and thyme to the pan.  Stir for a few minutes and then add the flaked fish; stir again and add the slices pawpaw.  Pour in the water, cover the pan, and simmer until the pawpaw is tender and the liquid is reduced to a gravy.  Garnish the saltfish and pawpaw with the bacon.

OK here is what I did:

Like I said, I have never used or opened a papaya. Image

A little intimidating.. lol.

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Gorgeous. When I opened it, I got worried.  The Papaya was a little more ripe than I thought. I decided to go ahead and move forward with the recipe.  I scooped the seeds of the papaya out and began slicing.

I also began boiling some green bananas to go along with it.

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I followed the recipe exactly, except I added more thyme and a few red pepper flakes.

ImageSprinkled the bacon on top!! Bacon makes everything delicious!

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I had to taste it at this point. My goodness…divine!  A sweet, salty, spicy mix of flavors!

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I served it with some left over dumplings and the boiled green banana.  I was so nervous to try this, but it turned out so good. I am glad to have another saltfish recipe under my belt.

My dad also enjoyed it. He said I needed to make more gravy so the dumpling and the banana could soak some of it up. Next time, I will also try to find a less ripe papaya. My dad said it should be more green than pink, but he said quote “It nah taste bad, it taste good ya nuh” lol.. Keep it spicy!

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