Mimsy Were the Borogoves

Food: Recipes, cookbook reviews, food notes, and restaurant reviews. Unless otherwise noted, I have personally tried each recipe that gets its own page, but not necessarily recipes listed as part of a cookbook review.

Mimsy Review: Cooking the Bahamian Way

Reviewed by Jerry Stratton, May 23, 2001

An interesting book with new and exciting ways to prepare conch or make okra palatable, and some fried chicken.

AuthorSylvia Laramore-Crawford
Length40 pages
Book Rating3

Printed on the occasion of the “special quincentennial of Columbus Landfall” in 1991 (first edition) and 1992 (second edition, which is the one I have). This appears to be a self-published job. The book looks pretty much like the old Dungeons & Dragons rulebooks, if you’re a gaming fan. Basically 8.75x12 paper folded in half, with a good quality cardstock cover, lightly embossed.

The Soups chapter starts out with a bit of okra and a lot of conch, which is a mussel, or molusk, of some kind. The pumpkin soup, with tomatoes, bacon, and celery, is a very good soup, a nice array of flavors. You might have some trouble scaring up a turtle for the turtle soup.

There are very few salads. No okra (thank God, who could handle it raw?) but conch does make an appearance, combined with onion, bell pepper, and hot peppers for a very spicy salad. There’s a “Salad for Bridge Players” which combines shredded carrots, walnuts, raisins, and garlic sauce. Surprisingly good. The “Potato and Curry Salad” sounds interesting until you read the ingredients: one package of mashed potatoes and a teaspoon of French’s curry powder. Does French’s even market a curry powder in the states?

As would be expected from a cookbook that covers “700 islands”, Seafood is the largest chapter. You can have your fish baked, boiled, chowdered, and stewed: and yet again, conch makes an appearance. When you curry your conches, you don’t need French’s.

By the way, if you can’t find conches for your Bahamian recipes, “the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism/Office in your city or one nearby will give you the proper address by which your grocer may place his order for conchs.” Order yours now!

There are only two pages of chicken recipes, but they are all unique combinations of spices well worth trying. The “Baked” chicken, with caraway, thyme, and ginger is especially good.

Pigs, cows, and sheep all get lumped together in one two-page chapter which also includes another turtle recipe (steamed).

The vegetables section contains a short variety ranging from various herbed potatoes to boiled cabbage and rice pilau.

Dessert! are tropical puddings (banana, coconut), fritters (pineapple), and a fairly standard Christmas fruitcake.

The breads are a bit of a disappointment. They’re tucked away in the back, under a chapter titled “Bahamian Bread”, but there are only three of them, and you’ve already seen them all: “Bahamian Bread with Raisins”, “Bahamian Johnny Cake”, and “Bahamian Pancake”. The trick is that the Bahamian Bread with Raisins (basically an Irish soda bread) uses yeast and egg; the Johnny cake and the pancakes are basic cornbread and basic pancake, respectively. Nothing special there.

Somewhat more interesting is the “Bush Tea” section, with such interesting concoctions as lime leaf tea, avocado leaf tea, allspice tea, and aloe vera tea. Some of them “are believed to” reduce high blood pressure, relieve backache, do something unspecified to skin cancer, and cure the common cold. The author appears torn between legal obligations and wanting to make a strong claim for the efficacy of the bush teas:

In this book I have listed a number of ‘bush’ teas which may be taken internally, or used externally according to local lore, and to my knowledge, no one has ever suffered any side effects. This does not mean that I am inviting my readers to indulge; but I will tell you this, in the days when Bahamians really made use of ‘bush’ medicine, it appeared that we were certainly a more healthy people.

All in all, it’s certainly an interesting book, and if you’re looking for new and exciting ways to prepare conch, or a few more ways to make okra palatable, it’s worth a look. Also, glance through the chickens and the teas. I wouldn’t go out of my way to look for it, however.

Mama’s Fried Chicken

  1. Season pieces of chicken with a mixture of flour, paprika, black pepper, nutmeg, mustard, rosemary and garlic salt.
  2. Add sliced onion rings.
  3. Marinate 1 hour.
  4. Beat egg.
  5. Dip chicken in egg, roll in flour mixture.
  6. Fry in hot crisco until cooked and browned.

Cooking the Bahamian Way

Sylvia Laramore-Crawford

Recommendation: Borrow

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