A taste of tropical sunshine spiked with marijuana: The gammon food critic goes Caribbean

Restaurant reviews by Justin Tanner, our retired food critic who thinks these gender neutrals should take a good hard look down their pants

CARIBBEAN food? Just fruit isn’t it? 

After all, they’ve hardly got cows out that way. They couldn’t take the heat. So it’s the ingredients of Lilt, weird vegetables with risible names and chillies that’ll have your ringpiece glowing like a three-bar fire.

That’s not to say I’m prejudiced. I’ve got an Ainsley Harriott cookbook at home, though admittedly I’ve never used it, and I’ve had those Levi Roots sauces a couple of times and they were alright. Not as good as Honey & Mustard Chicken Tonight, but what is?

So it’s with some grounding in the cuisine that I venture to the new Caribbean place. Though I am concerned about marijuana. I know Rastafarians smoke it as part of their religion, but surely they wouldn’t put it in food? I value my sanity, thank you.

Decor-wise, it’s all very bright and cheerful, which I suppose you’d expect when you’re high as a kite. I do find these huge West Indian blokes with dreadlocks a bit intimidating, though I’m not quite sure why. Probably a cricket thing. The shadow of Viv Richards looming large.

There’s a couple of things on the menu that are definite no-nos. Jerk chicken, goat curry and yams. I’ve seen them and they look like fossilised mammoth turds.

I go for the beef pepperpot, a meat and vegetable stew cooked in a pot called a Dutchie. I know that from the Musical Youth song, which I bought on seven-inch. Told you I wasn’t prejudiced.

It comes with rice and peas, except they’re not peas but small brown kidney beans. I don’t say anything. I’ve heard Dreadlock Holiday, I know what they’re capable of.

It’s all surprisingly pleasant and I pop out for a postprandial fag only to realise I’ve run out. The chef offers me a roll-up and why not, they’re such a friendly bunch. It’s marvellous not everyone who had the benefit of the British Empire is childishly resentful about it.

Anyway, suddenly I’m starving, and order the guava duff – guava fruit in steamed dough with rum butter sauce. I’ve never tasted anything so delicious. And I’m really digging the reggae. After a while I’m even up and dancing and the lights are leaving trails.

I decide to walk home as it’s such a beautiful, starry night. I can’t quite explain why, but I feel on top of the world. And so hungry I pick up a massive bag of Monster Munch.

Overall impression? A wonderful experience, and one I’m sure to repeat. I was so silly to worry about drugs. Also this is the funniest episode of The Simpsons I’ve ever seen.

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This week in Mash History: Joe Biden is born in 1492

TODAY President Biden confirmed he will run for a second term in office. And who better? 

After all, Joe is the original American, the first baby born on its shores when Christopher Columbus made landfall in the Santa María. His life spans that of his country.

Of course, there are those who believe Biden was actually born on the Viking longship of Leif Erikson, who first visited North America centuries earler. Scholars even speculate he was with the Clovis people crossing from Asia to Siberia 13,000 years ago, though this is widely discredited.

Let us turn to Biden’s own writings, penned when he was a mere babe in arms:

“So here we are, the New World and a new person: me. It seems like such a wonderful place with roaming buffalo for as far as the eye can see and no current inhabitants which need to be taken into account.

“I sense that nothing – not towers which scrape the sky itself, nor the Fresh Kills landfill site, nor endless miles of strip malls with International House of Pancakes and the MiniLuxe nail salon – will ever spoil it. Though I may be mistaken on a few minor details.

“But if its future should ever be endangered, then I could step up with my boyish optimism and sharp mental acuity to steer it. For the young are the future of this pioneering land, and I am in their number.

“I hope I do not delay and become distracted. It would be a waste if I were not to seize the reins of leadership until my twilight years, even if I were to aid a more diverse and charismatic candidate first. I should hate to become slow-witted and dozy.”

And so Joe Biden came into this world, with time on his side, ready to narrowly seize power from a delusional Wotsit-coloured cunt a mere 528 years later.

Next week: to 1180, when an inspired samurai warrior called Minamoto no Yorimasa invented the marvellous Japanese art of seppuku.