The history of Asians in the Caribbean spans over 100years now. The Asian influence in Caribbean food is well noted throughout the Caribbean. To say Chinese cuisine is obvious in the cuisine would not be quite accurate but the blending and fusing of cuisines is true. Here’s a little history how the “Fusion” began.
By the 1800’s African slavery was abolished from all of the Caribbean. And at this point the Native Carib Indians were long gone by means of slaughter, disease, intermarrying or simply running away. Then by government agreements in China and India, Chinese and Indian’s were bought over to the Caribbean after the emancipation of the African slaves. But little this group of people know there would be new heights to “indentured servitude”.
In 1834 the black British slaves working in the Caribbean colonies were freed, and no longer desired to stay on the Sugar Cane Plantations. They wanted FREEDOM! So they began to commence with the potential of their own businesses creating a labour vacuum that was filled by indentured labourers mostly from Madeira, India; Fujian, and Guangdong in the Southern regions of China. A sizeable portion of these immigrants were destined for Trinidad & Tobago, Cuba, Jamaica, and Guyana.
The Premier’s Mango Chicken & Black Rice
The first groups of Chinese immigrants were forcibly kidnapped or deceived into making the journey as were Indians from India, although this practice was curbed somewhat by an agreement between British and Chinese authorities to formally supervise recruitment processes.
Most of the Chinese were from poor families on the verge of starvation and suffering from trade wars back at home. For them, servitude was an opportunity to live and possibly to survive wherever this new place was. The first indentured Chinamen arrived in Cuba in 1847, and then later two more ships arrived in 1854. The majority were dropped off on the sugar producing islands of Jamaica, Trinidad, Cuba and Guyana. A few were brought to some of the smaller islands. The Chinese were fewer in number than the Indian indentured servants arriving around the same time frame and the African slaves who came before them. They were isolated by their language and customs.
From then on families were encouraged to emigrate, although often without being completely informed of the working and living conditions, or their contractual obligations. Chinese women began arriving in 1860, but in small numbers. There were only four Chinese women for every 100 Chinese men in servitude. Therefore the men cooked for themselves in former slave quarters, which had cramped kitchens, inadequate ventilation, and contained only the necessary equipment: a wok, cleaver, spatula, and cutting board.
The provisions and rations that the Chinese were used to weren’t available during the early years. Only a few ingredients that could survive the long ship voyage, such as dried noodles, soy sauce, and spices could be found. Even rice was sporadic. Most essential ingredients weren’t readily available until the twentieth century.
The period from 1860 to 1866 saw a relatively large influx of immigrants, bringing the local Chinese population in British Guyana to a peak of 10 022 in 1866. There would be only two ships to supplement this population following 1866, and afterwards Chinese immigrants came of their own free will and at their own expense.
NZINGHA’s House Special Jerk Pork Fried Rice
Indentured servitude came to and end around 1917, when the British government prohibited the transportation of debtors from India as servants. Many of the Chinese immigrants did not return to China because they were not entitled to a free return passage or any assistance. They remained on the islands and slowly mainstreamed, breaking into the retail trade and owning small businesses.
Chow Mein is a well-known and well-liked dish in the Caribbean. It became popular early on because the two basic ingredients, noodles and stock, were easily attainable. Noodles were the primary carbohydrate in the Chinese immigrant population on the islands and simple to make. Stocks were made from chicken and pork bones and occasionally herbs that simmered all day.
NZINGHA’s Yo Wass Up Mein
The menus of Caribbean Chinese restaurants are greatly affected by whether or not the restaurant identifies with a specific Caribbean nation or not. Dishes from nation-specific restaurants are often variations on local specialities, in addition to more widely known food items:
•Cha Chee Kai — Crispy Chicken with Skin in sauce (fried chicken).
•Chicken-in-the-Rough — Fried rice with Chinese style fried chicken on the side.
•Jerk Chow Mein — Jerk Pork or Chicken fried with mixed vegetables, soft egg noodles, and sauce.
•Curried Duck Roti — Potatoes and Duck in a curry sauce, rolled in a flakey flatbread.
•Bangamary Ding — Fried bangamary tossed with cashews and mixed vegetables.
•Char Siu Pork Dhalpouri — Chinese pork, peas, onions and geerah (cumin) rolled in a Roti.
NZINGHA’s Spicy Chiny Teryaki Ramen
NZINGHA’s Mandarin Orange Chicken w Coconut Rice
NZINGHA’s Mandarin Orange Chicken w Coconut Rice
NZINGHA’s Mild Jerk Chicken Fried Rice
Rasta Ramen w Jerk Talapia wrapped in Callaloo * Sweet Potato* Breadfruit * Corn and Plantain Chips