Di Blakka Di Pot, Di Sweeta Di Rice and Peas!
In a village in Ghana lived young Khamisi, with her stepmother and stepsister who were very mean to her. Khamisi would walk through thejungle to the river every day to fetch water. One day as she was returning home, water pots balanced on her head, she tripped up over a hidden crocodile and fell, breaking the pots. As she tried to sit up the gigantic crocodile hissed, “Sit on my back little girl, I will take you to a magic island with magic pots.” The crocodile took Khamisi to a hidden island and told her, “On the island you will find many large pots who will yell out ‘pick me, pick me’. Ignore them and look instead for a small pot that will say ‘don’t pick me, don’t pick me’. Take the small pot and when you get home, request the pot to show you its magic powers and it will give you everything you need. But when you have enough, you must ask the pot to stop. DO NOT waste the magic”.
When Khamisi got home, she found to her delight, that the pot could cook and clean but most importantly, it could give her water so she no longer had to walk for miles through the jungle to fetch any. Khamisi decided to share the pot with her stepmother and stepsister, but they were very greedy and asked the pot for a room full of money. Then, when they had the money they broke Khamisi’s pot. They would get one of their own – then the magic would belong only to them. As the stepsister rowed across to the magic island on the crocodile’s back she was given the same advice. “On the island you will find many large pots who will yell out ‘pick me, pick me’. Ignore them and look instead for a small pot that will say ‘don’t pick me, don’t pick me’. But she was greedy and thought, “If a small pot can give me so much money, imagine how much more a large pot will give me.”
However the large pot was full of angry magic and when mother and daughter requested to see its magic powers, it threw out so much fire that they were both burnt to death. Khamisi realised that magic could be dangerous, so she broke the angry pot and using the room full of money that the small pot had given earlier, she built a well in the village so that no one would ever have to walk miles to the river to fetch water again.
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A Jamaican Coal Stove is something most Jamaicans have used or seen operated up close and personal. But for second generation Jamaicans and foreigners who are not from Jamaica or other Caribbean countries, the term ‘Coal Stove’ may strike the imagination as something totally alien to them. I’ll admit, when I first saw one recently, I didn’t yet actually know the name of the contraption, but I was already cooking outside with a propane stove and this stove appeared to be exactly what I needed to reduce the cost of having to buy propane. Almost all of the iconic Jamaican Coal Stove are available for under $40 and is great for having a back-up outdoor stove–just in case.
I had no idea of how it was actually used, but I knew I wanted to get one! At first I wanted to put some dry wood inside where the coals would go. Then I was a little perplexed looking at the grills at the bottom of the bowl shaped piece of metal. I figured I could at least grill some vegetables or barbeque a veggie burger and perhaps even a breadfruit.
So of course I finally found out that that you are to put coals in the cavity of the Coal Stove and a Dutch Pot on top of the grill that will rest within the concave, bowl shaped section. Although many Jamaicans have given up this masterpiece for more ‘technologically advanced’ stoves and ovens that depend on government run power sources, I would recommend everyone get themselves some type of alternative cooking method as you cannot always rely on the power grid to provide you with gas or electricity. Many Jamaicans living on the island are very aware of this as electricity tends to be a luxury for some.
The Coal Stove was actually a staple household item in Jamaica before the gas and electric stove, although you may not be able to tell from the kitchen items of Jamaicans living abroad. However, one of the most memorable remnants of using a Jamaican coal stove is for making the Jamaican dessert called ‘Sweet Potato Pudding, which most, if not all Jamaicans crave!
It is worth mentioning that most recipes for sweet potato pudding still call for it to be baked using this famous Jamaican Coal Stove, which calls for coals to be placed inside the coal stove as well as on top of the ‘Dutch Pot’ so the pudding can be cooked from the top and the bottom. And so came about the Jamaican riddle “Hell a top, hell a bottom, and hallelujah in di miggle…What am I?”
Many Jamaicans swear by the Coal Stove they believe coals give the food a better flavour than an electric stove or propane stove wood. A Coal Stove will last you for about ten years. The same cannot be said about other stoves such as the common camp stoves you see sold in department stores. Coal also burns much hotter than wood. Again, there are Jamaicans that prefer to cook with fire wood, as they believe that the wood provides and even superior taste to finished Jamaican dished. As coal is not always available, when you purchase the Coal Stove you always have the option of using fire wood.
- Small, medium and larg sizes
- Reliable alternative cooking source
- Lasts about ten years
- Versatile—uses coals, fire wood, fruit pits and pellets, etc.
- Imparts unique flavor in food
- Coal burns longer and hotter than fire wood per fuel load
Check out the Jamaican Coal Stove @ Jamaica Stores
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