Creole in the Kitchen: Lexical Recipes from Trinidad

WINER, Lise (PP#4, July 2004).

Abstract : Creolisation is a process encompassing both objects and abstracts. The term creole is perhaps most widely known now in terms of language, although in its earliest meanings it most often referred to someone or something (e.g., livestock) born in the Caribbean/New World in post-Columbian times. This paper (originally presented at SCL 1998 in St. Lucia) examines several aspects of the culinary lexicon of Trinidad from a perspective of a creolising process that has taken and continues to take place within a “creole space” (Carrington 1992). Five specific lexical items are examined: creole cuisine , pepper , seasoning , browning down , and roti .(1) Discussed are meanings—both literal and socio-cultural—and evidence of historical origin and development, within a particular, dynamic, cultural and geographical creole context.

(1) A variety of sources have been used to investigate these areas, including: 1) newspaper articles (e.g., Hosein 1990, Sankar 1994, Waterman 1993); 2) locally published Trinidadian cookbooks (e.g., Baptiste 1987, Beharry 1983, de Boissière ca. 1945, Hunt 1985a, 1985b, Mahabir 1992, Wood 1973); 3) Caribbean cookbooks (e.g., Bastyra 1987, Benghiat 1985, Clark 1976, Donaldson 1994, Miller 1979); 4) Caribbean-topic cookbooks published in the U.S. (e.g., DeWitt 1993, DeWitt and Wilan 1993, Gerlach 1993, Harris 1988, 1995, Harris 1989, Lalbachan 1994, MacKie 1991, Ortiz 1973, Walsh and McCarthy 1995, Wolfe 1970); and 5) reference works and essays on the cuisines of Africa, the Caribbean, and Europe (e.g., Barnes 1993, Harris 1989, Mintz 1996, Parkinson 1999, Sokolov 1989a, 1989b, 1991, van der Post 1970, Wilson 1971).

About the Author

LISE WINER , PhD, is Associate Professor in the Faculty of Education, McGill University , Canada. Her research interests are in two main areas: teaching English as a second or other language, focusing on methodology and teacher training; and Caribbean English Creoles in educational, literary, linguistic and historical aspects. Her current projects include the preparation of the historical Dictionary of the English/Creole of Trinidad & Tobago and an edited series, Caribbean Heritage, Novels from Trinidad, 1838–1907 . Prof. Winer is Immediate Past President of the SCL.

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