Writing 101 ~ Day Six: A Character-Building Experience

Today’s Prompt: Who’s the most interesting person (or people) you’ve met this year? Today’s twist: Turn your post into a character study.

Just 2 days ago, I went to a market about 20 miles up the road called “Thrift”. I had heard so much about this place from Mexicans & South Americans attending English speaking classes that I just had to visit.

The display of fruits by the main door was awesome but when I went in, it was stepping like into gastronomic Disneyland. I thought Asian grocery stores were interesting but with “Thrift” I have to use the word Intriguing.

I walked around in a daze, watched what everyone was buying. Then I saw this chubby African lady with a colorful headwrap, wearing an old, worn out Caribbean style dress, holding a pair of tongs picking up cubes of meat from a 5-gal bucket and putting them into a plastic bag. As I watched her, she must have sense my inquiring mind and smiling, she picked up a 3” cube and said, “This is Beef. It’s salted to preserve but it is good. Very easy to cook & good to eat.”
I followed with “How do you cook it? In soup?”
“No, no, you boil it first to make it less salty, throw away water, then you cut slices, you can make Bully Beef.”
“Sorry, did you say Bully Beef?!”
“Yes, it is like corned beef and you add onions and some Bonnet pepper if you like it spicy hot.” She looked at me and I probably still had my inquisitive look on, “Where you from?”
“Singapore”
“Oh, you people eat beef?’
“Yes, we do.”
“Try it. My husband likes that, much cheaper, but I prefer goat meat.”
“Goat meat?” my mouth was probably agape “You can get goat meat here?”
”Sure, you want? Follow me.” I lugged my basket, only with some bean sprouts and Indian Luffa in it, and followed her lead.
True enough, there on the butcher’s table, lay nicely cut goat’s meat. OK, they looked fresh but what on earth would I do with it?
“I’m from Jamaica and we eat goat meat when we can afford it.” Then she pulled a packet of spice from a nearby rack, “This is what I use, I love it, children love it, customers love it. If you want to try Jamaican Goat Curry, this is what you use, not the others.” We smiled and I thanked her, grateful for her advice and friendliness. OK, so I bought a pound of goat’s meat.

She sounded so happy, so positive, talking about food, plus she used the word “customers” so I guess she might be in the food business, like a chef, a caterer …

After I wandered and browsed for almost 2 hours, I checked out and pushed my trolley (yes, I got more than a basket could handle) towards the car. There was the Jamaican lady sitting under a palm tree with an elderly, very thin couple.

“So, you buy the goat meat?” she asked, waving and smiling broadly
“Yes, I did. I want to try what you recommended.”
“Good. Good. You will be back for more.” to which I grinned and nodded.
“Thank you for your advice.”  Waved my farewell.

Loaded my car and then came an assistant to collect the trolley ~ another chubby African, grinning and friendly “You know the boss?”
“Sorry?”
“There ~” he pointed to the Jamaican lady “the owner, my big boss.”

Lesson learned ~ Never assume someone who picks cheap meat in a store is a fellow customer.

And so, that’s how I ended up making my 1st Jamaican Goat Curry.

Goat Curry

Goat Curry

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8 responses to “Writing 101 ~ Day Six: A Character-Building Experience

  1. It looks delicious, but we prefer mutton or beef. We grew up with bully beef – the canned variety (in South Africa we called them “tins” not “cans”) and my mother bought at least half a dozen tins every month. This was almost the staple food of our armed forces in the sixties and seventies and they made a delicious meal. The corned beef that we buy in our shops nowadays is tasteless, very salty and extremely expensive.

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    • I continuously learn different terms ~ In Singapore, we use the term mutton for goat’s meat and a delicious Indian soup there is Mutton Soup. I learned that in Australia, the term mutton is used for old sheep, no longer called lamb, considered not good as food. Yes, I too grew up with tins, now it’s cans ~ and I always thought English is just plain English 😀

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      • Yes, the English that not even the British can speak properly! We also call the older sheep meat mutton, but it can still be used in stews – well cooked. The lamb we usually roast in the oven or grill on a barbecue. For myself, I prefer fish and chicken.

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  2. Lovely story, it gave me a laugh 🙂 That Jamaican Goat Curry looks divine! How did it taste? The only Jamaican food I’ve ever tried is Jerk Chicken and man, thinking about it makes my mouth water… Great job on today’s post!

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  3. A catchy story with a juicy theme and a surprising end. Most enjoyable, both my imagination over the food but also your writing skills. By the way, we stili use the Aussie degrogatory remark when describing scantily clad mature aged women as ‘mutton dressed up as lamb’. Of course I would never be so crass!

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