Title

Ital (eye'-tal): of or from the earth; vital; life giving; natural.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Going Green?


I love bananas. LOVE them. I will eat two, possibly three in a day. Banana bread? Yum. Banana pancakes? Double yum.

But the bananas that I'm talking about are the ripe ones...you know, the yellow ones....the "banana" ones.

So, let me introduce you to the other banana...the green ones...

Here, as in many tropical places, green bananas are eaten. They are another starch added to the mix. It is customary to eat the green bananas boiled with the other Food. I admit to finding the boiled banana well, repulsive, to be polite. It is the one Jamaican staple that I just don't like. First, green bananas are bland. Boiling does not add any kind of flavor to the blandness. In fact, boiling the bananas turn them this strange pink color and makes them wrinkly and well, you can use your imagination...

Okay, so I needed to come up with a way of cooking green bananas to make them appealing because we were given a plethora of them the last time we visited Mo's parents. I started thinking about Fried Green Tomatoes. (The food...and the movie...I love that movie!) Now I cannot take full credit for this recipe as Mom-in-law made something similar with green plantains...so I credit her for the following:

Fried Green Bananas

4-5 green bananas
1 onion
2 cloves of garlic
1 green bell pepper
1 scotch bonnet pepper
seasoning (I used a commercial "meat" season mix, basically a mix of italian herbs and salt)
olive oil

Peel and slice the bananas lengthwise. Place in a shallow bowl or plate and shake seasonings over them, turning to get the back as well. Chop other ingredients (taking care with the scotch bonnet...you may not want to chop the entire pepper...two or three pieces will be enough to add a nice spice to the bananas.) Heat some olive oil in a skillet and add the onion, garlic and peppers. Saute until soft. Add the bananas. Saute 8-10 minutes until they turn a nice golden yellow. (Yes, they turn yellow!!) Serve them up. Yum!

I'm learning that in some places they make green banana fries and green banana curry...the possibilities seem endless! I think I may have found my new favorite food!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Water


Rain and Waterfall at Spur Tree

Yesterday was World Water Day. (I seem to be coming late to all the parties these days...) One of my biggest fears is facing a future without potable water. I say a little, "Amen" right before drinking a nice tall glass of water. I do a happy dance whenever it rains. Because, let's face it, without water there is no life. Period.

My heart is aching at the reports coming from Japan that the drinking water in Tokyo is contaminated. I know of a number of communities here in Jamaica that are without piped water. Residents must go to a communal pump everyday to get water for all their basic needs. My home town is facing possible water contamination from hydrofracking, drilling for natural gas. New York City's wonderful tap water (really, it's the best water ever!) is also at risk from natural gas drilling. It is scary.

I urge everyone to find out where their water comes from and to PROTECT it! If you live in an area affected by hydrofracking, write to your congress and DEMAND strong regulations. If you are able, collect rainwater in a water catchment system. In honor of World Water Day, donate to UNICEF and help bring clean water to a child. And do your part to conserve water whenever possible!

If you would like to help Japan, here are a number of links to organizations taking donations:
American Red Cross
The Huffington Post
Handmade for Japan

Peace and Wellness,
Rae

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Poems for Everyday

Yesterday was World Poetry Day. I love poetry and even if I'm a day late, I would like to share some wonderful words with all of you...

Bone Tree

I didnt want you then
when guango with its sturdy trunk
mango and almond
crowded my shadow

bone tree
no leaf
no limb
only the parasite bromeliad
hugging the trunk

How did you
bone of my black bone
stare at the wind
outstare him as he
crashed

large trees
guango and mango
groaning to their knees

splintered my windows
wrenched my doors
and floated out my bed?

Watching you pray
age does not frighten me
nor seeming frailty now

stark arms against the light
dark arms stretched wide
against the moon

bone tree
I need you now

--Velma Pollard


Footling

Where others dive
into their first air,
you would insist
on testing the climate,
dangling in one foot,
as if you might decide
to forget the whole thing
and go back indoors.

It isn't that way, child.
Once it is time to get born,
a person gets born.

--Toni Flores


Clothes

You take off, we take off, they take off
coats, jackets, blouses, double-breasted suits,
made of wool, cotton, cotton-polyester,
skirts, shirts, underwear, slacks, slips, socks,
putting, hanging, tossing them across
the backs of chairs, the wings of metal screens;
for now, the doctor says, it's not too bad,
you may get dressed, get rested up, get out of town,
take one in case, at bedtime, after lunch,
show up in a couple of months, next spring, next year;
you see, and you thought, and we were afraid that,
and he imagined, and you all believed;
it's time to tie, to fasten with shaking hands
shoelaces, buckles, velcro, zippers, snaps,
belts, buttons, cuff links, collars, neckties, clasps
and to pull out of handbags, pockets, sleeves
a crumpled, dotted, flowered, checkered scarf
whose usefulness has suddenly been prolonged.

--Wislawa Szymborska

Conjure Woman Kneels beneath the Sycamore Tree

To bury

Mary mother’s intuition,

Valerie’s ancient wisdom,

Eleanor’s sorrow low and deep,

Arlene’s wanderlust,

Elena’s passion for Vermeer green,

Sandy’s quilted serenity;

singing softly the gospels of Evelyn’s faith unwavering;

hoping to ignite

Toni’s blazing world.

--Corey R. Breneisen

Monday, March 14, 2011

Homesick

It's natural to get homesick from time to time when everything around you is so new and different. There are times when I long to hear an American accent or eat a nice crisp McIntosh apple. So I was pretty excited when I had to take Song to the U.S. Embassy to report her birth.

I guess I was (naively) expecting a sort of homecoming reception...to be greeted by smiling Americans ready to offer me up a Starbucks' iced mochaccino and the latest baseball/football/ basketball/hockey scores while other Americans mingled under the palm trees exchanging pleasantries about their travels in Jamaica...

Instead I approached what looked like a fortress with high walls, tons of security and a very very long line of people hoping to be granted a visa and therefore a very small piece of the "American Dream"...

"No cell phones, cameras, electronics of any kind, perfume, cologne or umbrellas allowed in the Embassy," I was told by the person with a clipboard managing the crowd on the sidewalk who did not have an American accent. They checked off my name as having arrived for my appointment and I was directed through the first door.

"No cell phones, cameras, electronics of any kind, perfume, cologne or umbrellas allowed in the Embassy," I was told by one of the ten security guards inside...again no American accent...

The diaper bag went through an x-ray machine and Song and I went through a metal detector. The diaper bag was pulled aside and searched because the baby wipes looked suspicious...

Upon discovery that the baby wipes were just baby wipes, we were allowed through a second door. There was a large courtyard, beautifully landscaped which I thought would be a great place to drink that mochaccino...

I was directed to a third door where I was given a number by a person who did not have an American accent and told to go through a fourth door. Once through the fourth door, I was directed to sit in one of the many rows of chairs and told to wait for my number to appear on the electronic screen. It kind of reminded me of the DMV in Brooklyn...except for the plate glass windows where business was to be conducted via phone...you know, like the ones in prisons...

So my number was called and I gave the very pleasant smiling woman Song's application and accompanying documents and by phone she told me in a not so American accent what the process would involve...

After all the i's were dotted and the t's crossed and double crossed, I was called to a second window where I was asked to again pick up the phone and I was finally greeted with a very exuberant American accent. "Hey, how are ya? Okay, raise your right hand..." I was administered an oath by a very young and quirky American consular officer. He kind of reminded me of my brother only with blonde hair. Upon swearing that all the information contained in Song's application was true to the best of my knowledge, the officer said, "Cool." Then he asked me in a very animated way how the "whole giving birth in Jamaica" experience was. I seemed to confirm the other very positive experiences of ex-pats who had given birth abroad. "I've only heard good things," he said. "Well, very cool. Alright. We'll call you when the certificate arrives." And so ended my very brief exchange with a fellow American.

I left the Embassy and the ever growing visa line with "No cell phones, cameras, electronics of any kind..." echoing behind me. I guess I should not have been surprised, really...Being American is like being part of an exclusive club...and not everyone is invited to the party...The "others" need to be kept out, even if it means keeping fellow Americans at a distance too. What disappointed me most was the imposing feeling that no one was allowed...that everyone was under suspicion. It just reminded me of the empirical power the U.S. wields throughout the rest of the world. It left me feeling sad. Instead of being a place containing all that I love about America, it was the opposite...

But I am pleased to introduce you to the latest American citizen to join our family. I hope to teach her about all the great things in America...because there are many...