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Two Years in the French West Indies By Lafcadio Hearn Characters: 2010

Updated: 2017-12-06 00:02


Everybody eats akras;-they sell at a cent apiece. The akra is a small fritter or pancake, which may be made of fifty different things,-among others codfish, titiri, beans, brains, choux-cara?bes, little black peas (poix-zié-nouè, "black-eyed peas"), or of crawfish (akra-crib?che). When made of carrots, bananas, chicken, palm-cabbage, etc. and sweetened, they are called marinades. On first acquaintance they seem rather greasy for so hot a climate; but one learns, on becoming accustomed to tropical conditions, that a certain amount of oily or greasy food is both healthy and needful.

First among popular vegetables are beans. Red beans are preferred; but boiled white beans, served cold with vinegar and plenty of oil, form a favorite salad. Next in order of preferment come the choux-cara?bes, patates, zignames, camanioc, and cousscouche: all immense roots,-the true potatoes of the tropics. The camanioc is finer than the choux-cara?be, boils whiter and softer: in appearance it resembles the ma

nioc root very closely, but has no toxic element. The cousscouche is the best of all: the finest Irish potato boiled into sparkling flour is not so good. Most of these roots can be cooked into a sort of mush, called migan: such as migan-choux, made with the choux-cara?be; migan-zignames, made with yams; migan-cousscouche, etc.,-in which case crabs or shrimps are usually served with the migan. There is a particular fondness for the little rosy crab called tourlouroux, in patois touloulou. Migan is also made with bread-fruit. Very large bananas or plantains are boiled with codfish, with daubes, or meat stews, and with eggs. The bread-fruit is a fair substitute for vegetables. It must be cooked very thoroughly, and has a dry potato taste. What is called the fleu-fouitt-à-pain, or "bread-fruit flower"-a long pod-shaped solid growth, covered exteriorly with tiny seeds closely set as pin-heads could be, and having an interior pith very elastic and resistant,-is candied into a delicious sweetmeat.

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