Row, Fisherman, Row…..We Ah De Rasta.

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I-tal, a derivative of the word vital, is the Rastafarian approach to the handling and cooking of food. No animal proteins are consumed with the exception of fish. Vitally i-tal, as the blackheart man sings. There are many shades and styles of dread but the true Rastafarian will treat his fresh fish with respect and cook it simply. And be grateful for having a full belly.

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This is a rosemary plant that I am trying to grow so as to have “spiedini”, in Italian, or rosemary skewers. Though the precepts of Rastafarian fish cooking forbid the eating of shellfish, these skewers are great for threading the likes of shrimps and scallops. Pure heathen. Salted fish are permitted and sea salt is the sodium of choice.

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Because dairy products are excluded from the Rastafarian kitchen, you can kiss good-bye to butter , cream, cheese, yoghurt and eggs . And New England clam chowder while you are at it. So far, so good…..simple enough but I like my riddem with a little more drum and bass. For me that translates into reducing all the various components down to the most simple element of expression…the actual cooking of the fresh fish itself.

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Jackson and the beanstalk. I named the sunflower Jackson. Sunflower and runner beans are about eight foot tall. In a small garden, I have to go vertical.

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The word “I-tal” can also be viewed as an extension of natural. In the Rastafarian pantry, most food items are minimally processed and sourced locally. Organic is better.  Indeed, there many comparisons between kosher (Jewish) and halal (muslim) cooking styles. The abscence of pork is the most obvious.

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“Give us the teachings of His Majesty, we don’t want no devil philosophy”, Bob Marley from One Drop. And though I cannot play it here, I suggest googling “Congoes Fisherman video”.

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Fire is traditionally the method used to cook the fish. Earthen cookware are the preferred cooking vessels. The size of the fish to be cooked is important also. Any fish species over twelves inches in lenght is not eaten. Fish over that size are considered predators and therefore not so good for you. Ecologically and environmentally, this is sound practice. Fish at that size reproduce themselves by the skillions. And there are lots of them. This does not hold true the higher up the food chain you go. And I quote Lee ‘scratch’ Perry……”think about that”.

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Red, green and gold……thanks for reading. Eat like a peasant.

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