Sunday, April 10, 2016

My cou-cou story

"Endorse the cou-cou give me a bigger share" - Dacosta Allamby

I grew up on cou-cou.

Its of course the national dish of Barbados and as a small child I fully embraced it. At one point cou-cou was the only thing my mother could get me to eat without me putting up a fuss. I just loved me some cornmeal cou-cou!

So much so that I would probably have cou-cou no less than 3-4 times per week. This was pre-primary school mind you but you can say that I'm pretty much built on cornmeal. Cou-cou with red herring, cou cou with saltfish, cou-cou with flying fish the national dish, the occasional salmon when someone over in away sent you a few tins, cou-cou with pork gravy or my favorite cou-cou with mackerel in tomato sauce. Loved me some cou-cou!

I mean I was never into rice as a child, even as a teenager. In fact it took me until I came to Canada and started missing my mothers home cooked meals to actually start eating rice cause well it was the only dish that I could find that reminded me of home.

But we're on cou-cou today. My young palette was devoted to cou-cou as I have said, but as I got older, I started to eat other things and cou-cou became less frequent probably much to my mothers delight cause I mean seriously anyone of you who has made cou-cou knows how labor intensive it is churning that cornmeal until it becomes soft and mellow and very importantly free of lumps.  Good cou-cou is an art ya hear! Its interesting the things you don't get about parents and what they do for you when you are young that really strike you when you get older. Cou-cou is so labor intensive but yet my mom would make it for me two, maybe three times a week rather than forcing me to eat something I didn't like. That's love man!

Oh and as an aside, I would also be remiss if I didn't also mention that there was an elderly lady, a friend of my mom's who lived in Brittons Hill, who would also make cou-cou for me. Anytime we were visiting which was maybe once every two or three weeks she would have cou-cou for me to eat. So yea like I said I'm definitely built on cornmeal

Someone offered to make cou-cou for me this weekend. Maybe I will take them up on the offer sometime but cou-cou is one of those dishes I cant eat from any and everybody. Everybody hand doan "turn (corn)meal" the same way, some people doan know the art to getting out the lumps hint it is to do wid how ya pour in the okras and the water,  and lawd fadda doan even talk bout the newfangled microwave coucou an all that. I cann tek that boy!

Anyway, the last time I have had cou-cou was early January 2012. I had gone home on New Year's day for a quick two week trip to check in on my mother and spend some time with her. She was actually doing quite well, in fine spirits, at least in my opinion. We had some good conversations, some good fun.

By then of course I had outgrown my whole cou-cou thing. I mean I would still eat it if she cooked it but it wasn't even on the must-have menu when I went home like breadfruit or souse. I figured I probably still had plenty plenty cou-cou leftover in my stomach from all those meals as a kid perhaps.

So one day near the end of my trip, my mom says she's going to make cou-cou. I'm thinking to myself I really don't feel like cou-cou today so don't bother yourself but I cant actually say that without it being an insult so I think I said something along the lines of "don't wear out yourself mekkin nuh cou-cou  when there are other things in the house we can eat"

My mom replied that she wanted to make cou-cou for me cause ya neva know when she will become unable to make it. The exact words escape me now but that was the gist of it: I will turn this meal now cause one day I will be unable to. Strange I thought and a bit morbid but well ya cant tell these old people what to do so ok wont make a big deal about it. I will just be thankful like a good child and enjoy my cou-cou and that I did.

I left my mom and Barbados a few days later. About 5 days later my mom broke her wrist and that was sort of the beginning of the end for her. No more cou-cou stirring for her from that time on.

So now every time I think of cou-cou that's what I remember.


VirginiaC said...

Now I feel like eating coucou.
Reading your post made me remember words my mum said to me too that were like a foretelling but I just thought they were strange words for her to say....looking back now I wonder if she somehow knew what was coming.
Good for you that you ate that last cou cou and listened to your mum.
Good to see you on your blog again.

Jdid said...

thanks Virigina. I'm going to try to see if I can get back into a writing rhythm.

neena maiya (guyana gyal) said...

A Trini friend mother made me some cou-cou one time when I was staying by them in T'dad. It was the bestest thing I had, cou-cou wit' stew fish.

I always now associate cou-cou with her.

I think I gon learn to make it.

Yes, please get back into writing.