Anguilla News

Farming & Ital Food

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[Click to enlarge] An attractive coconut branch thatched wall was recently erected just in front of an agricultural plot in the centre of The Valley. Curious to discover what was behind it, I had a very interesting chat with the farmers who do more than farming.

For the past 5 months or so, four men have worked this lot, which was provided to them by the Agricultural Department. They are Iahkiah, Jah Youth, Ganga Ashes and Abbazulu, a popular calypsonian also known as I Spy. They plant a wide array of vegetables and fruits like wild lettuce, beets, cassava, carrots, pumpkin, okra, guinea corn, sweet corn, watermelon, bananas, spinach, papaya, thyme, chives, sweet peppers. They plant and reap on a daily basis and then sell their produce at the farm lot (look for their "Organic Food & Plants" sign) and around the island.

Part of their daily routine is to cook a pot of Ital food for their lunch and for friends or customers who may drop by. I enquired about the difference between Ital food and Vegetarian food and was advised that the cooking methods and requirements of Ital food are more strict.
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Abbazulu said: "You can't have Ital food unless you include coconut. No salt…no butter….no packaged seasonings…just the natural seasonings from the ground like garlic, onion…" . They grate coconut in a bowl, add some water and squeeze the coconut juice out. The coconut-water mix is used to cook the vegetables. Also they have a special clay pot that they cook in, as they believe that aluminum pots may leave metallic traces in the food. Abbazulu said: "Clay is from the earth, just like us.." They clean the clay pot with special bushes like Balsam bush or coconut husk.

They are exploring the possibility of cooking Ital food on a larger scale as they see a growing demand. This spot is worth a visit.

Directions: from the airport parking lot, take the only exit and turn left. Continue straight past Island Car Rentals, Anglec and National Bank. Turn left at the light by Albert Lake's Market and drive past the library and the high school. At the roundabout go straight ahead up the row of mahogony trees. You should see the Organic Food & Plants sign on the left before you reach the baseball field.


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Story and pictures by Janine Edwards

 Revised: 2001/10/7



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