To be more precise, Pepperpot, Guyanese Pepperpot.
The dish without which, in Guyana, there is no Christmas. The dish that looks ugly but tastes awesome. A kind of stew that is eaten with bread, Guyanese “Plait Bread”, or better yet, “Aniseed Bread”.
The bread is broken into chunks and dunked into the dark-brown Pepperpot, then raised to the palette to deliver a spicy, somewhat sweet, burst of flavor.
Pepperpot is made of chunks of meat, preferably ‘cow-heel’, the foot of the cow, cooked in ‘Casareep’ an extract of the cassava (yucca) root. Eating Pepperpot leaves you with sticky fingers and tacky lips, and eyes glazed over as you soak in the taste.
Oh what a treat on Christmas morning, downed with gulps of strong ginger beer.
Like Pastelles and Sorrel in Trinidad, like Christmas Cake in Jamaica and Jug-Jug in Barbados, Pepperpot is indispensable at Christmas.
Guyanese Pepperpot is born out Amerindian (native Indian) traditional cooking. The natives, Amerindians, in times gone by, maybe even today, would have a communal pot which sits over an open wood fire day and night. To this pot would be added pieces of meat and fish, as the men came in with their catch after a day’s hunting.
The ingredient which would give the meat its succulent, sweetish flavor would be casareep, an milky extract from grated cassava. To make casareep, grated cassava is squeezed in a ‘matapi’, a native-built ‘food-squeezer’ made of strips of dried vines, woven into the shape of the sleeve of a sweater. The matapi is filled with grated cassava, hung upright on a rafter or tree, and then stretched. The juiced gets squeezed out and falls into a receptacle.
As the cassava juice is exposed to oxygen it gets almost black.
The Pepperpot dish is enriched with spices, sugar and peppers. The casareep acts as a preservative, and by using it the Amerindians would keep food for days. Of course they had no refrigerators.
So next time you visit a Guyanese family, or take a trip to this beautiful South American country, ask your host about Pepperpot. And this Christmas, if you are adventurous, take a trip down to Alima’s. We know t’is the season to eat roti, but you can really create a buzz with this South American stew.
Alima’s offers Pepperpot as part of our “Eat-Easy” line of professionally packaged, freshly-frozen line of meal items.
For those who do not eat beef, we offer lamb Pepperpot, just a tasty. You can also get great tasting Plait-bread or Aniseed Bread, regular or wholewheat.
Come on over, it’s worth the drive.