It’s how we do it in the Caribbean.
Celebrations throughout the English speaking Caribbean are not quite complete without curry being central on the menu. Whether is it vegetarian, or goat or lamb or beef or chicken, curry is an all-time favourite and is a must-have to make the occasion complete.
Baked turkey is iconic of Thanksgiving in North America. But what would Caribbean people eat on Thanksgiving?
Caribbean people do not traditionally celebrate Thanksgiving as North Americans do, nor is thanksgiving restricted to
particular days or periods. However, people do give ‘thanks’ in a religious way for events like birthdays or anniversaries, or on the occasion of a child passing an exam, or on the purchase of a big-ticket item like a car or a house.
These thanksgiving ‘functions’ would typically be held at home, or outdoors in the ‘bottom-house’ or under a makeshift tent in the yard. All neighbours would be invited regardless of religious persuasion. You can imagine the crowd sitting and sweating it out, patiently listening to the Pundit or Priest or Imam, trying to ignore the wisps of smoke, riding on which would be spicy curry aroma, wafting through the air, prodding the newly religious to pray even harder for the sermon to come to an end.
In really traditional Hindu services like a Puja or a Jhandi you would be presented with the ‘seven-curry’, seven vegetarian curry dishes that may include pumpkin, spinach, eggplant, chataigne (catahar), mango and potato and channa, together with just the right amount of achar, topping the mandatory dhall and rice. This meal would sometimes be served in broad lotus leaves, into which you would nimbly dip your fingers to pick here and there at the richly spiced and seriously tasty curries.
In Christian communities, services were often done at churches but families would then drift back to their homes and delve into delicious beef or goat curry served over peas and rice.
Muslim ‘thanksgiving’ service’ is sometimes done in the form of a “reading” or ritual reading of the Quran, sometimes called a Quran Shareef. You likely would have skipped breakfast just to leave lots of room for the beef or mutton curry served with dhalpuri and, for those who were vegetarians, a veggie curry of chick-peas and potatoes.
Even though the meal is central to a Caribbean ‘thanksgiving’, the event is more spiritual than it is in North America, and is centered on God and community instead of being just a family feast.
But the same principle applies – taking a moment out of our hectic lives to gather with those we love to give thanks for all that we have while thinking about the curry.
Isn’t Thanksgiving in the Caribbean just currific? No turkey is served; but if it was, it would more than likely be curried turkey or “turkey curry”.