Garifuna Day Hot

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Garifuna Day


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344 Brook Ave.
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Judutu — sometimes spelled hudutu, as it's pronounced, and also called machuca — features an island of pounded plantain in a bowl of coconut-based soup ($12). On this occasion the kitchen prepared two soups, one more coconutty, supplemented with shrimp and conch (also shown below), one slightly thickened with flour and bolstered with, perhaps, bluefish. At this church gathering, everyone I observed ate with a spoon, but often judutu is eaten by hand, much like the African plantain-cassava paste called fufu. The Garifuna people, also known as the Garinagu, have their own personal connection to Africa. In a series of tribulations, their ancestors were abducted into slavery, shipwrecked in the Caribbean, maltreated by the Caribs, and — after generations of intermarriage between Africans and the local population — exiled, in 1797, to coastal Central America. Most of the attendees at this gathering seemed to be from Honduras and Belize, though across the street, a tented food table hung with the Guatemalan flag did brisk business. Inside the church, judutu was the only savory dish, but one table was entirely dedicated to sweets ($1 to $2 each). Shown below: banana cake, being sliced; dabuledu, a coconut-ginger crisp; beteta, or pan de camote, a sweet potato cake also touched with ginger; bimekakule, a.k.a. arroz dulce; and, from the Guatemalan stand, sweet potato and corn cakes. At bottom, the percussion-heavy lineup of musicians began to play as the food service wound down, in early-mid afternoon. They were accompanied by a single wind instrument — a king helmet, held to the lips by the man standing at center left — and by a keyboardist and two female singers. The repetitive-sounding vocals, not that I understood a word, seemed very familiar to most of the audience; several ladies standing up front sang along while slowly turning 'round, one hand raised, eyes closed.


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