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Monday, October 15, 2012

Vegan MoFo in NYC, Day 15: Caribbean Culture, Part 1

I feel like I have been focusing on Manhattan too much during this MoFo. I know that's where most of you stay when you come to visit, but I gotta rep QNZ today.
Manhattan has its ethnic neighborhoods - Little Italy, Chinatown, Indian Row, Irish Hell's Kitchen, African Harlem, Lower East Side's Jewish influences - but the same holds true for Brooklyn and Queens. Queens is actually the most diverse of the boroughs, while Brooklyn has a prevalent Caribbean culture, featuring a West Indian Day parade (that I intended on attending this year but...didn't.)
Last year during MoFo, I recreated other bloggers' recipes and wanted to make Cathy Erway's Jamaican Veg Patties (read the post - she explains Brooklyn's Caribbean culture better than I can). I didn't. This year I wanted to make Bryant Terry's Jerk Tempeh to celebrate Caribbean culture but...didn't. Not exactly.
I visited my parents in Queens over the weekend and recreated Terry's recipe (from The Inspired Vegan), but with tofu, the more omni-friendly of the vegan replacement proteins. Here it's served sans cilantro rice (there was only so much I was willing to tote on the subway trip over) though it probably would have been a great accompaniment. Instead, this is pressed, cooked according to the recipe and then broiled jerk tofu along side cous cous (parents' leftovers) and stir-fry/steamed garlicky broccoli.
If it sounds like an odd mix, it's only fitting because Queens is an odd mix of little enclaves of each of those foods' ethnic cultures. To bring the point home:

Served alongside Russian beer. I basically feel like an episode of Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego right now.
Verdict? I liked it. It was fresh and spicy, if a bit too salty. It would also have been a lot better with tempeh, for a more toothsome bite. But the omni parents liked it! They went back for seconds and split the leftovers with me. Next day jerk tofu over spinach (I was hoping for collards) with freekeh:

(Have I hit every country yet?)
Bonus photos from the parental visit: my mom's tomatoes! Tasty little cuties.

More cuties? My mom's quickly-growing kittens! They are two different ones, I promise! They are twin brothers!
                                                (Cicero and Seneca playing in the garden)
A la Bryant Terry, a musical pairing. Eat something spicy and delicious whilst jamming on this:

25 comments:

  1. Awww what sweet kitties! So adorable! :) The meal sounds so great and looks pretty! There is definitely a thriving Caribbean culture but I've never eaten the food and this is making me want to investigate Caribbean cooking for sure!

    How about Astoria/Greek food for a different neighborhood? The food there is SO FREAKING GOOD, yum! :)

    Great post, as always!

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    1. I'd love to walk around Astoria and find some dolmas. If I can find some time, I'm there! maybe even after moFo. my friends acutally got food poisoning last year at the West Indian Day parade so haha I feel a little better about not going and making the tofu myself.

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  2. You are so right - there are so many neighborhoods to explore, and the international food seems absolutely appropriate! I really should try more Caribbean food. Or maybe I should just go to the Caribbean...

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    1. Haha, thanks. It's kind of a cop-out but I'm hoping it sticks with the theme. Yes! Definitely go to the Caribbean! You deserve a vacation.

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  3. Yum! My best friend is Jamaican, and she's veganized so many of her family recipes for me. I can never get enough jerk tofu.

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  4. This post is more about your parents than Caribbean Culture. Which is interesting to me anyway. I don't think either of my parents ever tasted Tofu, or drank a foreign Beer and definitely would not let a cat step foot in their home. Nothing better than Cats in a garden.

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    1. Um, funny you say that. I just came back from a talk with a cartoonist who just wrote a graphic memoir called "Are You my mother?" and the talk was half therapy session/half "this is how I draw comics" so uhhhh yeah! The cats are wild little boys but luckily they have their shots. I wish I had a garden for Haxan to run around in.

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  5. That's awesome that your parents went back for seconds. I don't blame them because it looks great. Mike makes jerk spiced tempeh nuggets every once in a while & I adore them.

    The kitties are adorable. <3

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    1. Tempeh nuggets sound great! I wish someone would whip some up for me.

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  6. There's a Jamaican restaurant in Madison that makes jerk tofu and it's really good. I've never tried to make it myself, though. I'm glad your parents liked it — it's always stressful to make a risky food and then have people not like it.

    Cute kittens! They look a little camera shy!

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    1. Maud, let's you and me visit Andrea for some jerk tofu and donuts!

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  7. Desmond Dekker and cute cats? it's a red letter day over here!

    I'm in the process of learning to like tempeh. I reckon jerk tempeh might help sort me out - time to dig out the Bryant Terry book...

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    1. I love tempeh but I feel like this would especially be a great introductory dish.

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  8. Yum! That looks really good.

    Cicero and Seneca are gorgeous! And I loved the Carmen Sandiego reference ;)

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  9. Thanks for reminding me of Terry's book; for some reason it resides away from my other cookbooks and I always forget about it.

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    1. Yeah, he does some incredible dishes! I have honestly only, um, copied recipes out of his books and do not own them myself. Yet.

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  10. That tofu looks amazing! My parents are always sketchy about tofu, but if I disguise it enough and they don't think about it being tofu, they love it. Weirdos, ha ha! :) As my own contribution to your culturally diverse couple of days, I was drinking German beer last night!

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    1. To quote Will Smith...."parents - they just don't understand."

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  11. Kittens & tomatoes & Russian beer-paired Caribbean dinners? Sounds like a very New York day to me :)

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    1. I especially felt very New York after taking a subway and a bus to go visit them. Ah, the things we do ;)

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  12. I'm glad you highlighted something in Queens. I want to venture out more on future visits. I think I've only been to Flushing in Queens. And well, the airport.

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    1. oh Flushing is awesome! I'm glad you made it out there! What was it for??

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  13. ala Bryant Terry I love that! Everything looks fantastic. I particularly like the cats that your mom is growing.

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