By Gemma Handy
Sea View Farm, Antigua

A traditional coal pot being made by hand

picture captionThe conventional earthenware pots are nonetheless being made by hand

Breaking bread has been an indicator of household life in cultures throughout the globe for millennia.

Ask the elders in Antigua and Barbuda for his or her recollections of communal meals in days passed by and many will recall with fondness the instances spent sitting round a standard earthenware pot, heated by scorching coals, because the night meal cooked.

In generations previous, this was the place folk tales and ghost stories had been dropped at life, and superstitions and proverbs handed down.

  • First proof of cooking crops in pots

Culinary strategies might have developed over time however the expert follow of moulding the clay vessels fully by hand and firing them on an open bonfire survives to at the present time.

Third era potter Edith Lyne is one among a clutch of individuals nonetheless crafting the pots from pure clay within the countryside village of Sea View Farm.

picture captionEdith Lyne is without doubt one of the few folks nonetheless making the pots in Antigua

At dawn, she is discovered elbow-deep in a bag of damp black clay which she is going to form right into a “jabba” – much like a crockpot – utilizing a calabash to airplane the perimeters.

It takes about half an hour to kind, she explains. Then it is going to be left to air-dry for a number of days earlier than being daubed with pink clay combined with water as a varnish.

The ultimate stage is the firing. This half, Mrs Lyne says arranging her creations amongst a pile of tree branches soaked in gasoline, is the rationale why the artwork is in decline.

“Young people can’t take the heat,” she grimaces because the flames burst forth.

Dawn might barely have damaged however the temperature is already stifling within the Caribbean climes.

For Mrs Lyne’s grandmother, pottery was a thriving enterprise. Back then when the nation was nonetheless below British management, she bought her items for 2 pence every.

The cooking pots Mrs Lyne makes, together with the ashtrays and collectible figurines she sells to vacationers for a number of {dollars}, are a complement to her day job as a cleaner.

These days a lot of the pottery seen in backyards nationwide is basically ornamental, a nod to nostalgia and useful as flowerpots. But some traditionalists nonetheless use the vessels for cooking, and roadside stalls barbecuing ears of corn on them and simmering stews could be seen sporadically throughout the panorama.

picture copyrightCourtesy of Alex Rhodes

picture captionMany traditionalists nonetheless use the pots for cooking and say it creates a novel smoky flavour

“Almost every house in Antigua has a coal-pot in case the gas runs out,” Mrs Lyne says. “You can cook anything you want in it really and it only takes a few minutes longer than a stove.”

Sea View Farm has been a hub for pottery as a result of each sorts of clay used are discovered inside its environs – though the precise places are saved secret from outsiders.

While Amerindians are recognized to have used ceramics for cooking, a few of the varieties which persist right this moment are prone to have their roots within the customs that Antiguans’ ancestors introduced with them from Africa.

picture copyrightCourtesy of National Museum of Antigua and Barbuda

picture captionThe artwork of native pottery has been handed down by the generations

Similarities, historians say, embody the pottery being non-wheel made, baked in open fires, and created virtually solely by ladies.

“When I was a child all the cooking was on a coal-pot; we didn’t use a stove until the early 70s. But my niece still uses a coal-pot every weekend,” Mrs Lyne says.

The time-honoured follow makes for a novel style too. Coals or wooden are positioned contained in the bowl of the construction used to help the “jabba” which sits atop it.

The inside the jabba ought to be wiped with inexperienced banana earlier than inserting the meals in, Mrs Lyne explains.

A typical meal is perhaps nationwide dish pepperpot, a hearty stew of meats and greens together with okra and eggplant.

Some elders nonetheless eat “tratcha”, a dumpling of cornmeal, flour and coconut, wrapped in banana leaves and roasted.

The jabba’s cousin – the “yabba”, a flat, tray-like vessel – is used for roasting cassava bread, recognized regionally as “bamboola”, amongst different issues.

“The pots are mainly used for slow-cooked food like stews and soups,” says one resident, legal professional George Lake. “The use of wood or coals gives a smoky, earthy flavour.”

picture captionThe manner the pots are made has not modified

The days earlier than electrical energy was when coal-pots had their heyday, says Myra Piper, a analysis assistant on the nationwide museum.

“In my grandmother’s day, family life involved sitting sharing tales while the food cooked. Pepperpot, salt fish and rice and what we called ‘widdy widdy bush’ – similar to spinach – were common dishes.

“Old-time proverbs had been additionally handed down, like ‘cockroach na ha no proper ina fowl pen’ which means keep away from recognized hazard; one other was ‘mout open tory bounce out’, which means when you open your mouth you’re liable to say something,” she smiles.

Food remains an integral part of local culture in Antigua and Barbuda but many people, such as Mrs Lyne, fear the art of local pottery might soon be lost forever.

“People do not realise how a lot work goes into it; it is a ability,” she says, adding: “There are solely about three or 4 of us left making them now. It’s unhappy as a result of it is part of our historical past.”

Related Topics

  • Tradition

  • Antigua and Barbuda
  • Cookery