There was a lovely book launch at the Institute of Jamaica last Monday morning. It was all about a book titled Breadfruit Recipes, Sweet and Savoury, by Andrea V. Whyte.
The Lecture Hall is to me always a delight, with its wooden floors and its soft pink and dove grey furnishings. I sat at the end of a row of agriculture students from the College of Agriculture, Science and Education (CASE) in
rural Portland. Itʼs amazing how people who come in to events from the rural areas are invariably very early. Anyway, I enjoyed my chat with these young people.
Sullivan Dwyer (right) is doing a BSc degree in Plant Science at the College of Agriculture, Science and Education
(CASE) in Portland. Next to him are Demecia Ricketts (red blouse) and Omarsha Darlington, who are studying for
Associate Degrees in General Agriculture.
“Taste this and tell me what you think,” is an oft-repeated phrase by the cookbookʼs author, Andrea Whyte. According to her son Norman, and others, this is how she often greets you, should you come and visit her. Her
Taster-in-Chief is always her husband Junior, who responds with a “Mmmhmm!” Ms. Whyte was until recently cooking in a Florida kitchen, but now lives in Jamaica. “She is always cooking,” said her niece, Amba Small
Brown, who edited the book and highly recommends her auntʼs red herring
chips. “She has a huge heart.”
The woman who loves to cook, Ms. Andrea Whyte, presents a copy of her book to Floyd Green, Minister of State in
the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries.
Ms. Whyte is founder and owner of Isle Bites, a small company in Montego Bay that offers pastries and a range of delicious foods. You can shop for her food on her website. Ms. Whyte is a traditionalist, a non-believer in food
waste; and her motto is “Tun yuh han and mek fashion” – in other words, make do with what you’ve got. She is a great believer in healthy eating.
All the recipes are gluten-free – no wheat involved. Many of them use breadfruit flour, which is quite available in stores and which Ms. Whyte makes herself, along with cassava flour and sweet potato flour. Her
products include sweet potato pudding mix and other good, wholesome stuff. We tasted lots of the breadfruit products afterwards. To be honest I wasn’t sure about the breadfruit smoothie – perhaps an acquired taste…
A selection of the breadfruit products that we tried.
Back to the breadfruit – which, according to Olive Seniorʼs A to Z of Jamaican Heritage (my Bible), was in great demand as a cheap source of food for the plantation slaves. It finally arrived in Jamaica (first stop, Port
Royal) from the Pacific in 1793, brought on the HMS Providence by the English sea captain William Bligh (he of Mutiny on the Bounty fame). The descendants of the first breadfruit trees planted can still be seen in Bath
Botanical Gardens in St. Thomas – which is still the parish where, in my view, the best breadfruit is to be found in season.
In his speech, the amiable Floyd Green, Minister of State in the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, spoke of the “tremendous export value” of breadfruit. Food security is a growing issue for Jamaica.
Minister Green said the government is working with the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) office here on a school feeding programme that will use only Jamaican foods. Thereʼs so much potential.
On her website, Ms. Whyte observes: “A person who enjoys these delicious treats need only apply their taste buds.” So, get those taste buds ready!
The breadfruit book is available at the Institute of Jamaica gift shop on East Street in downtown Kingston – along
with items like these. Christmas gifts, anyone?