Forest Thrush (Grive à pieds jaunes)

Grive à pieds jaunes Turdus lherminieri Forest ThrushIn Today blog post, I wanted to highlight the rich biodiversity of Guadeloupe Archipelago by introducing a rare species of bird. This post is dedicated to the Forest Thrush also known as the Grive à pieds jaunes (French) in Guadeloupe Archipelago. The Forest Thrush is an endemic species in the Lesser Antilles and can be found in Guadeloupe, Dominica and Montserrat. Saint-Lucia was the fourth island where we used to see it but it disappears over the years. There are 4 subspecies depending on the island. Here are the scientific names:

  • Turdus lherminieri lherminieri in Guadeloupe
  • Turdus lherminieri dominicensis in Dominica
  • Turdus lherminieri dorotheae in Montserrat
  • Turdus lherminieri sanctaeluciae in Saint-Lucia

As a vulnerable bird due to multiple threats, the species is protected in Dominica and Montserrat but not in Guadeloupe. Let’s find out more about this melodious bird.

Origin & Description

The Forest Thrush is a species of bird from the Turdidae family. This medium-sized thrush is 25 to 27 centimetres long and weighs about 100 grams. Its plumage varies a lot; its upper part is dark brown while the under part shows a scaly pattern with a variation of brown, yellow and white. Indeed, the breast, flanks and upper belly have a brownish colour with white and sometimes yellow spots. The lower belly is white. It has bare yellow skin around each eye as well as yellow bill and legs; hence the French name “Grive à pieds jaunes” (Yellow legs’ thrush). The Forest Thrush natural habitat is tropical moist mountain forest where you can see it from the forest canopy to the forest floor. As a cosmopolitan species, you can also see it in the understory of wooded areas. In terms of nutrition, the Forest Thrush is an insectivore and frugivore bird. Its feeding habit consists of movement across the ground with short and bouncy hops, and then it regularly pauses to listen and look for preys. When discover what it is looking for, it swings forward to pick it up with its bill. Although it is quite difficult to clearly see a Forest Thrush, its reedy and melodious singing is very powerful and can be heard form far.

The Forest thrush in Guadeloupe Archipelago

The Forest Thrush is registered on the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) red list of threatened species and is considered as vulnerable.

The species is vulnerable and threatened for various reasons such as: Habitat deterioration, competition with new species, hunting from human beings and predators including: The mongoose or the Bothrops lanceolatus (species of pit viper). The Forest Thrush is fully protected in Dominica and Montserrat due to its sensitive status. However, in Guadeloupe Archipelago hunting is allowed.

In addition to the multiple threats mentioned above, the Forest Thrush is also highly subject to contamination caused by chlordecone (persistent organochlorine pesticide).

Fortunately, some organisations that are targeting the protection of Guadeloupe Archipelago fauna are putting all their efforts to preserve the biodiversity and prohibit the hunting. Hopefully, they will be able to get some satisfaction any time soon in order to prevent the hunting permanently. The Forest Thrush is one of the most iconic birds in Guadeloupe Archipelago and I hope it will stay for a long time.

Malanga Fritters (Marinades de Malanga)

Today blog post is all about knowing how to do Malanga fritters and a little bit of history behind this recipe. Malanga fritters are commonly called “Marinade” in Guadeloupe Archipelago. This dish has always been part of our culinary heritage especially for Good Fridays. Indeed, my grandmother and great-grandmother’s generation used to make these fritters. Back in the days, most people did not eat meat on Good Fridays. For those who could not afford any kind of fish, the only option was to use fresh root vegetables from the garden and find a creative way to cook them. This is how Malanga fritters have become a “must eat” appetizer. I said Malanga fritters but technically, there is another major ingredient in this recipe which is the tropical pumpkin called “Giraumon”. Here is the recipe:

Ingredients for 30-40 fritters

  • 250g of Malangas (2 Malangas approximatively)
  • 150 g of “Giraumon”
  • 1 egg
  • 4 Spring onions
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 large bunch of fresh parsley very finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon of finely chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • 125g of all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon of baking powder
  • A small piece of hot pepper (Optional)
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Vegetable oil for frying
  • 100ml of water

Instructions

  • Peel, wash and grate the Malangas and “Giraumon”
  • In a salad bowl, combine them with the spring onions, garlic, parsley, thyme and hot pepper
  • Add the egg, flour, baking powder, salt, pepper and lastly the water
  • Voila! The batter is ready
  • In a fried pan, put the frying oil
  • When the oil is hot enough, use a teaspoon to make the fritters
  • Fry until golden
  • Drain on paper towels and devour!

BONNE APPÉTIT

giraumon peau

Giraumon

giraumon chair

Giraumon flesh

Malanga

MalangaIn Guadeloupe Archipelago, we are surrounded with a wide variety of root vegetables also called Ground Provisions. My grand-father has always been a farmer his entire life, he has a big garden and grows multiple tropical fruits and vegetables. When I was living over there, I remember visiting my grand-parents every Sunday and go back home with so many fruits and vegetables especially root vegetables. When you are a kid, you don’t necessarily see the value of picking a fruit from the garden to make a fresh juice or eating a vegetable straight from the garden. Now when I am looking back at it, I can clearly say that I have been lucky to live this experience. In today blog post, I am going to focus on the Malanga. This root vegetable is the main ingredient of our famous Malanga and Pumpkin (Giraumon in Guadeloupe Archipelago) fritters that most of Guadeloupians are doing on Good Friday.

Origin & Description

Malanga is native to Northern South America and can also be found in Africa, Caribbean islands, The Philippines, Asia, Florida, California as well as multiple tropical areas all around the world. Malanga plants have soft and large elephant ear-shaped leaves that can be up to 60 centimetres long. Young Malanga’s leaves are edible and are consumed like spinach. The tuber is oval-shaped and varies considerably in size weighing between 200 to 900 grams. The biggest one can be mistaken for Yam. The skin is shaggy with white and brown stripes. Inside, the flesh is crisp and firm ranging in colour from white, beige, yellow to pink. In terms of taste, the Malanga is a delicious vegetable root with a nutty flavour.

Malanga leaves

Malanga leaves

Culinary Use

As most of root vegetables, there are various ways to cook a Malanga. Once you peeling it you can boil, steam, fry or roast it depending on your preferences. Boiled or steamed Malanga can be mashed with coconut oil, butter or cream to use as a side dish, or cut into pieces and roast with salt and pepper like fries. Also, the Malanga root can be dried and ground into flour. For those who are intolerant to wheat or gluten, Malanga flour is a good alternative. In Guadeloupe Archipelago, the most popular dish including Malanga is Pumpkin and Malanga fritters. In this recipe, the raw Malanga is grated.

Nutrients and Health benefits

Malanga is high in fibre and calories. Additionally, it has many essential nutrients and is extremely mineral-rich. Indeed, it contains potassium, phosphorus, magnesium and small amounts of calcium and iron. It is also a good source of riboflavin, folate and has small amount of Vitamin C. So, by consuming Malanga you can limit your risk of high blood pressure, strengthen your bones and teeth as well as improving the process of cell growth and oxygen transport around your body.

When visiting Guadeloupe Archipelago, the best period to enjoy a Malanga is between March to October. But obviously, if you are going to any big market outside this period, you will still be able to enjoy it.

Traditional Women Creole costumes (Les Costumes Creole féminin)

Guadeloupe Archipelago has a multi-faceted identity which blends Caribbean, European, Indian, African, and Oriental influences. The mix of culture is noticeable in various aspects such as the food, music and dance but also our traditional costumes. Nowadays, traditional costumes are worn for special celebrations including family gatherings: wedding, christening…etc but also during general public events. The colourful and joyful costumes as well as the accessories testify that women in the archipelago have always been mindful of their appearance and clothing. The hot and sunny weather also plays a big part when it comes to creativity and inspiration. Today blog post will help you have a better understanding of the traditional costume that most women in the Archipelago are proudly wearing.

As I mentioned earlier, the Creole costume is the result of a mix of various culture. For instance, the fabric madras is from India, the lace petticoat is from Brittany and the accessories and vivid colours are from Africa. The Creole costume represents the story of the Archipelago. Let’s take a closer look to the multiple attires and accessories:

Traditional Costumes

  • La Gaule créole: Simple white cotton or percale gathered dress, with long or ¾ length sleeves. Generally, women were wearing this dress after ceremonies to welcome friends and family while keeping their jewelleries and madras headscarf around their waist.
  • La Matadore: White off-the-shoulder Broderie Anglaise blouse for the top and for the bottom a piqué madras skirt with a white lacy petticoat underneath. This outfit comes with a shoulder-scarf and a madras coiffe*(explanation bellow)
  • La Robe à Corps: This dress comes in two varieties:

– The everyday one which is made with a madras print cotton fabric

– The one for special events which is made with a velvet or satin fabric

The traditional Robe à Corps is completed with a small satin cloak on the shoulders, a petticoat and accessories.

  • La robe Ti Collet: Simple floral print cotton dress with vivid colours. Women wear this dress with a headscarf around their waist but no petticoat as it is an everyday dress.

     Jewellery and accessories

  • Les Coiffes or Têtes are an important aspect of the traditional Creole Costume. During the Colonial period, emancipated slaves women were not allowed to have any kind of hat. This is when la Coiffe/Tête has been an alternative accessory emphasising the beauty of the Creole costume. La Coiffe/Tête is made with a starched piece of madras fabric and then, there are different ways to tie it, various styles of “Tête marrée” including: Tête casserole, Tête créole or Tête plombière. La Coiffe/Tête was also an excellent indicator about the love status of the woman who wore it.  La Coiffe/Tête with one point identified a single woman, with two points a woman already in love, three points a married woman and four points an open-minded married woman.
    Coiffe 1 point

    Coiffe 1 point

    Coiffe 3 points

    Coiffe 3 points

  • Jewellery is an essential part of the overall Creole Costume. In fact, it is also the result of multiple cultural influences. The jewellery engraving comes from Europe while the various gold shades are from Africa as well as the method used to work with the raw metal. In addition to that, the Fauna and Flora of Guadeloupe Archipelago are a good source of inspiration for goldsmiths. Here are few names of famous necklaces, earrings, and bracelets. Necklaces: Collier chou, grain d’or, forçat/ Earrings: Zanneaux chenille, créoles, tété-négresse, pomme-cannelle/ Bracelets: Joncs, semainiers.

Today, the Creole costume is all about modernity. Although original traditional costumes are still fashionable, there are lots of variations with madras fabric matching all kind of special events for everyone from babies to adults.

The Tropical House Gecko (Mabouya)

If you’ve ever heard about the tropical House Gecko also called “Mabouya” in creole when visiting Guadeloupe Archipelago, there is a very good chance that there is a scary popular belief about it. When I was younger, I do remember being frightened by seeing multiple mabouyas on the ceiling of my veranda. Indeed, they are not good looking as most of the reptiles. Today we are going to find out more about the “mabouyas” and how people perceive them in Guadeloupe Archipelago.

Origin & Description

The tropical house gecko is native to Sub-Saharan Africa. It is also currently found in North, Central & South America as well as multiple Caribbean islands. In terms of size, the species varies from 7 to 15 centimetres. They have a triangular-shaped head, small ears and huge eyes which are useful in spotting prey in low light conditions. Their toes are broad and padded and their tails are long with glossy scales. Tropical house geckos are greyish white to pale yellow, which make them noticeable as they are nocturnal reptiles. At night, they are becoming active hunters of flying and crawling insects to feed themselves. You can mostly see them on ceilings or walls near the lights, they also like to hide behind paintings or wardrobes.

The Tropical house gecko in Guadeloupe Archipelago

The Tropical house gecko has been introduced in Guadeloupe Archipelago during the 18th century, the exact date being unknown. There is another species of Gecko that are living under the rocks or alternatively in Coconut trees. In some Caribbean cultures, if you have a tropical house gecko residing in your home it is considered as good luck. In addition to that, they will help you get rid of household insects. In Guadeloupe Archipelago, there are many folk beliefs that are animated our lives since the slavery period. There is a popular belief saying that if a Tropical House Gecko fall down on you, it will stick for a while unless you use a mirror. I guess that seeing its reflection will make it run away.

Be aware that you may meet a Mabouya when visiting Guadeloupe Archipelago. But it is alright, you don’t have nothing to worry about.

 

The Bokit

Today blog post is all about a popular and traditional round-shaped sandwich from Guadeloupe Archipelago called the Bokit. This Creole burger is highly accessible when visiting Guadeloupe Archipelago. In fact, there is always an opportunity to enjoy a street food to go as the weather is quite warm most of the time. Whether it is at specific locations where food trucks are gathering on a daily basis, for special events, by the roadside or beach, this delicious ready-to-eat food will amaze your taste buds and satisfy your hunger. On top of that, if you are living in London you will be lucky to taste delicious Bokits from Bokit’la, a fast-growth start-up managed by 2 compatriots. Without further ado, let’s jump into the topic.

Origin & Description

Although it has been known for a long time, this speciality from Guadeloupe Archipelago became famous at the middle of the 19th century, straight after the abolition of slavery. At this period, the poorest workers could not afford daily essentials such as bread. As they didn’t want to suffer from hunger, they had to be extremely proactive to prepare some food with what they could find in their kitchen including: Flour, water, salt, and oil. Bokits are small balls of dough deep-fried that you can fill with a variety of fillings such as Chicken, Fish, Ham and Cheese, sausages, various vegetables and spices…etc.

As one of the iconic street food of the Archipelago, the Bokit is sold in every corner. Whether it is daily gathering of food vans in multiple locations, for different festivities or by the beach, you cannot miss the Bokit. The smell is quite attractive and nowadays traders have become so creative and offer various combination of flavours to please everyone. The Bokit has so much success that queuing for quite a long time (up to 30 minutes) is often part of the game.

Bokits in London: Bokit’la

Are you living in Greater London? Do you want to take part of a tasteful experience with a Bokit? Good news!!! It is possible thanks to Bokit’La, the first French Caribbean street food in London. On Bokit’La menu, there are 3 different sizes of bokits (small, medium, and large) with 3 main different fillings (Chicken, salt-fish, and aubergines (for vegan), and 5 different levels of spice (level 1 being mild to level 5 extremely hot). You can also add extra toppings such as avocado salad.

Bokit’La can be found at multiple locations:

  • Markets:

– Hammersmith Lyric square, London (Every Thursday: from 10am to 3pm)

– Brixton station road, London (Every Friday: from 11am to 3pm)

– Kennington road Oval, London (Every Saturday: from 10am to 3pm)

– Muswell hill Alexandra Palace, London (Most Sundays: from 10am to 3pm)

  • Theatre and Pub:

– The Barley Mow: 127 curtain road old street EC2A 3BX London (Every Tuesday from 6.30pm to 10pm/Every Friday from 12pm to 3pm)

– The Oval House Theatre 52-54 Kennington Oval, London SE11 5SW (From Wednesday to Saturday from 6.30pm to 10pm)

If you cannot reach these places, that’s fine Bokit’La has extra catering services as well as a choice of delicious canapés. For more information visit their website: http://www.bokitla.com/

BONNE APPETIT!!!

Easter in Guadeloupe Archipelago (Pâques sur l’Archipel de Guadeloupe)

In Guadeloupe Archipelago, Easter is an important religious celebration as the archipelago is predominantly Roman Catholic. Indeed, Easter is the celebration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ after his crucifixion. It also marks the end of 40 days lent, which is quite respected here in Guadeloupe Archipelago. Night activities and nightclubs are quite inactive during this period of repentance, fasting and preparation for the coming of Easter. As a festive season, it is also all about family reunions at the beach or river to share traditional meals and drinks as well as having fun. Let’s dig deeper into the topic.

In many countries, Bunnies and eggs chocolate are symbolically related to Easter. During this cheerful season, eggs’ hunting is the number one activity for kids. However, in Guadeloupe Archipelago, the crab has become the symbol of a conventional Easter. The traditional Easter meal is the crab Matété” (A crab stew with white rice)

Cover crab

A month or so before Easter, the crabs’ hunters set the traps (called Zatrap in creole) in the mangrove swamp. Then collect and sell them by the roadside for the population. Once you have your crabs, you need to make sure to put them in a safe place and feed them appropriately before the due date.

Easter Sunday, some people spend the entire day by the beach or the river, sharing some food and drinks with family and friends as well as enjoying fun activities such as: Playing cards and dominoes or Beach activities including Beach ball games and water sports. For the more adventurous camping is a great option. As places can be really crowded, those who choose to camp are making sure to pitch their tents on Good Friday.

Finally, if you want to experience something else, there is the famous Crab festival in Morne-à-l’Eau Township (located in Grande-Terre Island). As the ambassadorial township of Crabs, Morne-à-l’Eau welcomes each year thousands of people during this special week end.

You will be able to see or take part in various activities involving the crab. As mentioned earlier, the crab “Matété” is a popular Easter dish, but the “Calalou” crab, the Crab dombré, the Crab pie, Crab pastries, Crab gratin, Crab cake are others mouth-watering foods the cookers are competing with each other to entertain and satisfy the public.

Crab matete

Crab Matete

Other than the culinary part, there are multiple competitions including but not limited:

  • Crabs’ races
  • Biggest crab
  • Fastest person to tie crabs
  • Biggest crab eater

If you want to take your knowledge on crabs to the next level, you have the possibility to drop by the “The Crab Museum” located in Le Moule” Township (Grande-Terre Island).  The Crab Museum is a place where you will be able to see and purchase a wide variety of crabs. You will also find out different ways to cook this tasty seafood.

Here are the opening hours and address of the place:

Address:

La Maison du Crabe

3, chemin Duteau

97160 Le Moule

Opening hours: From Tuesday to Sunday (9am to 4pm) / From Monday to Sunday, same time in July and August.

As you saw from this blog post, the crab is part of the culinary heritage in Guadeloupe Archipelago. If you are a seafood lover, you won’t be disappointed. But most importantly, Easter is a cheerful period when you will eat, drink, dance, play and laugh with your love ones.

Calalou de crabe

Calalou crab

Dombre crabe

Crab dombre

The sweet potato (La patate douce)

I really appreciate having a nutritious meal with sweet potatoes and fresh vegetables. From mashed to roasted, I love how versatile sweet potatoes are. Unfortunately, it has not always been like this. Although sweet potatoes were part of my mum’s cooking, I never was a big fan when I was living in Guadeloupe Archipelago. As far as I can remember, my mum constantly strove to make my siblings and I enjoying this root vegetable. Let’s find out more about this tuberous root.

Origin & Description

The sweet potato is native to Central and South America and has been grown for over five thousand years. Sweet potatoes are cultivated throughout tropical and warm temperate regions wherever there is sufficient water to support their growth. The sweet potato plant has simple heart-shaped leaves that are pale or dark green-coloured. The flowers are white or lavender. The most important part of the plant are the roots called tubers. The tuber is edible, sweet, rich in starch, fibre, vitamins, and minerals as well as varying in size, shape, taste and texture. Sweet potatoes flesh can be white, yellow, orange, red or purple, while skins’ colours range from yellow, pink, orange, red to brown. When I was living in Guadeloupe Archipelago, I have always seen my mum cooking the white-fleshed and red-skinned variety. Here in the UK, the one with orange flesh and pink skin is quite popular.

20170415_134935

Pink-skinned and orange-fleshed variety

Culinary Use

Sweet potatoes tubers can be: Baked, boiled, fried, grilles, juiced, microwaved, pureed, steamed and even toasted. There is a current trend with sweet potato toasts to enjoy with your favourite topping. Apparently, white, or pale yellow-fleshed sweet potatoes are less sweet and moist than those with red, pink or orange flesh. This has made me understand why my mum always cooked sweet potatoes as a savoury dish such as: Boiled sweet potato with fish, sweet potato fries, or sweet potato gratin. On the other hand, sweet potatoes are widely used in sweet dishes such cakes, cookies, pies, pudding, and others delicious desserts. Nowadays, lots of products are made from sweet potato including: flour, bread, cereals, crisps, juices, noodles, and candy. The sweet potatoes leaves can also be eaten as a vegetable, boiled or in salads.

Nutrients and Health benefits

Sweet potatoes are rich in complex carbohydrates, and dietary fibre.

The orange and red-fleshed forms of sweet potato are particularly high in beta-carotene.

All varieties of sweet potatoes are good sources of vitamins including:

  • Vitamin A which is a powerful antioxidant, and is linked to anti-aging benefits, cancer prevention and the maintenance of good eyesight.
  • Vitamin B2
  • Vitamin B5
  • Vitamin B6
  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin E
  • Niacin
  • Riboflavin
  • Thiamin

They also have minerals:

  • Copper
  • Iron
  • Magnesium, which is good for artery, blood, bone, muscle, and nerve health.
  • Manganese, which plays a role in fat and carbohydrate metabolism, calcium absorption, and blood sugar regulation.
  • Potassium, which is helpful for your heart, as it lowers blood pressure by maintaining fluid balance.

Sweet potatoes have a low glycaemic index which will help steady the levels of blood sugar.

When visiting Guadeloupe Archipelago, you will have many opportunities to taste sweet potatoes. Whether it is the famous sweet potato gratin, the sweet potato jam or sweet potato bread, the vegetable is fully part of the culinary heritage.

confiture patate douce

Sweet potato jam

Mango mousse with passion fruit coulis

There are so many desserts and snacks you can do from the ripe mango fruit. As mentioned in my previous blog post, you can make juices, smoothies, jams or sorbets. Unfortunately, most of the time we dont always have the appropriate utensils or enough time to cook sophisticated recipes. So do you want to try a refreshing, yummy but easy recipe with mango? Here is the mango mousse recipe:

Ingredients for 6 people

  • 5 medium-sized mangoes (any variety)
  • 500 ml of double cream
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 100 g of cane sugar (or other sugar of your choice)
  • 4 leaves gelatine

Instructions

  • Wash and peel the mangoes
  • Mash the pulp in a salad bowl and set aside
  • Soak leaf gelatine in cold water for about 10 minutes to soften
  • Squeeze excess water from the sheets before adding to the juice of the lime in a sauce pan
  • Simmer over low heat for few seconds
  • Allow the mixture to cool down, then add to the mash mango
  • Whip the cream with the sugar until soft peaks form
  • Mix the mash mango with the whipped cream mixture
  • Transfer into serving glasses and put into the freezer for an hour

You can serve this mango mousse with a passion fruit coulis. It is a excellent combination. To make the coulis you will need:

  • 5 passion fruits
  • 75 grams of sugar

Instructions

  • Cut the passion fruit in half and scoop out the pulp
  • In a small saucepan, combine the passion fruit pulp and sugar
  • Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, simmer for 3-5 minutes
  • Strain if you prefer smooth texture without seeds
  • Set aside to cool

Voila! You have your coulis to pour onto your mousse when ready to serve

BONNE APPETIT!!!