Life and Food in the Caribbean is a thoroughly satisfying exploration of a region and its food, incorporating history, geography, sociology, botany, zoology, and such cultural detail as the customs and rituals that accompany its preparation and consumption. Cristine Mackie, a British food and travel writer, who has lived extensively in the Caribbean, has offered us what is, in a sense, a co okbook, but, even more, a stimulating general education that uses cookery as its springboard.
We found it exhilerating to page through the index of a cookbook and see such entries as Vita Sackville-West, Arawak Indians, male-female division of labor, bush hogs, Captain Cook, Conrad Joseph: The Heart of Darkness, Diwali, calypso, Aldous Huxley, and Bele Kawe ritual singing.
None of this is to play down the recipes–a far from standard collection–scattered through the book, virtually always preceded and sometimes followed by contextual material. They are formatted as prose, with the ingredients worked in, rather than appearing ahead as a list. It is truly a book that is meant to be read. From a Chinese-influenced fish soup with watercress to lamb in sugar-cane brandy, groundnut chop, mouth-blazing piri-piri, and a soothing West Indian pudding with ginger and cream, it will not disappoint.
This book, part of a short series of “life and food” books issued in London by Weidenfeld & Nicolson, was published in 1991. Our copy is an unused first edition in exquisite Fine condition; the dust jacket is also Fine. A top-notch discovery.