Drink of all kinds populates Canadian literature and over the next few months we aim to sample some of it, nay imbibe, though purely in the name of research. The cupboard doors to my liquor cabinet have been thrown open and its contents scrupulously examined . . . for something other than a growing assortment of champagne flutes and, inexplicably, several tiny bottles of Poire Williams eau de vie.
Who better than Austin Clarke to begin the proceedings. In his culinary memoir Pig Tails ‘n Breadfruit, he has dedicated an entire chapter to “drinking food.” For, as his mother sagely advised, “If you know that you going be drinking a lot o’ liquor in the evening, you make-sure that you line your stomach with some good food, hear!” (239). Clarke proposes biscuits with cheese, cou-cou and salt fish, or corned beef with fried peppers and onions.
I opted for the corned beef. Though I must admit to having later replaced it with a little smoked meat. This is Montreal after all and what is beef if it’s not pickled and smoked.
Serve with a side dish of hot pepper sauce and a main dish of rum, “straight, man!” (238).
Clarke, Austin. Pig Tails ‘n Breadfruit: Rituals of Slave Food : a Barbadian Memoir. New York: The New Press, 1999. Print.
Photos and Text by Alexia Moyer