Saturday, February 10, 2007

Iron Chef Guyana

Blogger's Warning: Do not read this right before lunch or you may experience heavy drooling on your keyboard.

When you mix a dash of creativity with a bit of boredom and a handful of crazy conversations, you end up with the first ever Iron Chef Guyana competition: Georgetown vs. Bartica. The Townies traveled about 3 hours on bus and boat for an eventful weekend that the Barticians graciously hosted.

The rules, which were taken super seriously:
1. Everyone was to purchase ingredients between 4-5pm in the market at Bartica in order to support the local economy
2. There was a $5000 GY ($25 US) limit on total ingredients purchased
3. Grading criteria (10 point scale): 4 points for flavor and taste, 3 points for creativity/flair, 3 points for presentation
4. Venue: Two volunteers’ kitchen situated next door to each other
5. Time limit: 1 hour
6. Secret ingredient to be presented immediately before the cooking commences
7. Trophy: sponsored by the friendly Bartician that owns the local furniture store

Team Georgetown Participants: Another volunteer from my organization, a Guyanese culinary student, a British economist, an Australian medical student. Not quite the G8, but we would have made the U.N. proud. We would have also made those people who draw the earth with all the people from different countries holding hands around it proud.

Team Bartica Participants: Two volunteers from my organization, Three volunteers from another organization

The Judges: A Guyanese woman, three British men, an American woman, all with different taste palates.

The Townies, including contest participants and a gregarious cheering squad of seven, arrived fashionably late in typical Guyanese style- we’ve really embraced the culture here. After scrambling with only 30 minutes left to purchase ingredients, we arrived at our venue and the secret ingredient was revealed: Callaloo. This green vegetable, resembling spinach, is the leaf of the Eddoe plant (a local potato-like root). We had a quick moment to discuss our strategy before our challenge began and the adrenaline starting pumping

(l) Shopping at the Meat Market
(c) A stack of sweet juicy pineapples
(r) The final product

Team Georgetown’s menu:
Appetizer: Bruschetta with tomatoes, onions, garlic, callaloo, cucumbers on bread with homemade garlic butter. (And it was better than the Texas Toast that you get in frozen section of your local grocery store, lazy Americans.)
Entrée: Callaloo stuffed chicken on a bed of pasta topped with a mixed vegetable spicy tomato basil sauce
Dessert: Crumbled cookies frozen with condensed milk, topped with bananas and cinnamon. Callaloo sauce reduced with rum, sugar and cinnamon on the side. Oddly enough this was actually really delicious.

Team Bartica’s menu (a Superbowl theme):
Appetizer: Fried tiny bell peppers stuffed with cream cheese and callaloo (Where do you find cream cheese in Bartica? Cheaters.)
Entrée: Vegetarian Chili with bits of callaloo
Dessert: Crumble pumpkin pie presented on a bed of callaloo

The winner:
Final Score- Georgetown 42, Bartica 30. We did well enough to make Mario Batali and Masaharu Morimoto proud. After all the judging was done, both groups celebrated together by stuffing our faces with our delicious creations, using our fingers, napkins and the only two forks between the group of us. Talk about a friendly competition.


Princess Jibi said...

I should have taken your warning more seriously... I feel like coming home right away now... I am starved...

Anonymous said...

Nice shot of you and your roommate...

hao said...

wow - cool synopsis =) feels like it was yesterday...

Leighanna said...

Well said.