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Making Oildown In Tempe In Grenada

On 7th February 2022 Grenada celebrated 48 years of independence. My friend Winston took me to Tempe in St George’s, Grenada, to meet Curtis Boney who was making oildown, the national dish of Grenada, from scratch for the celebrations.

Oildown is a melting pot of cultural history, a one pot, hearty meal made up of local meats, fish, spices and vegetables. The ingrediants may change slightly – depending on the chef – but a must for every oildown is breadfruit, callaloo, coconut oil and dumplings. It is traditionally prepared outside in a social setting and cooked over a wood fire. | Watch The You Tube Vlog Here!

Winston (left) and Curtis Boney in Tempe! | Watch The You Tube Vlog Here!
Curtis place, C&M Magic Tone Bar in Tempe | Watch The You Tube Vlog Here!
Curtis had green beans and had prepared seasoning comprising of onion, garlic and seasoning pepper | Watch The You Tube Vlog Here!
The huge pot for the meat oildown | Watch The You Tube Vlog Here!
Inside the huge pot for the meat oildown | Watch The You Tube Vlog Here!
the smaller pot was for the fish oildown which had breadfruit already prepared by Curtis | Watch The You Tube Vlog Here!
pumpkin | Watch The You Tube Vlog Here!
cabbage | Watch The You Tube Vlog Here!
fish (on the left) and chicken back | Watch The You Tube Vlog Here!
pig snout | Watch The You Tube Vlog Here!
sweet potato, yam and sweetcorn | Watch The You Tube Vlog Here!
Curtis prepares the sweetcorn | Watch The You Tube Vlog Here!
Curtis preparing the pumpkin | Watch The You Tube Vlog Here!
cutting up the Callaloo for the pot | Watch The You Tube Vlog Here!
adding a layer of breadfruit in the pot | Watch The You Tube Vlog Here!
adding the pig snout to the pot | Watch The You Tube Vlog Here!
adding the sweetcorn to the pot | Watch The You Tube Vlog Here!
adding yam to the pot | Watch The You Tube Vlog Here!
A layer of chicken back is added to the pot | Watch The You Tube Vlog Here!
the pot receives another layer of breadfruit | Watch The You Tube Vlog Here!
a layer of cabbage is added to the pot | Watch The You Tube Vlog Here!
Curtis sprinkles seasoning in the pot | Watch The You Tube Vlog Here!
green beans is added to the pot | Watch The You Tube Vlog Here!
pumpkin is added to the pot | Watch The You Tube Vlog Here!
the coconut has been grated and is blended in water | Watch The You Tube Vlog Here!
after blending the coconut is squeezed to make a huge bowl of coconut milk | Watch The You Tube Vlog Here!
several packs of saffron is added to the coconut milk | Watch The You Tube Vlog Here!
Curtis mixes the saffron and coconut milk | Watch The You Tube Vlog Here!
the saffron and coconut milk is added to the pot | Watch The You Tube Vlog Here!
Curits makes some dumplings and puts the pot on the fire | Watch The You Tube Vlog Here!
Curtis prepares my plate of food | Watch The You Tube Vlog Here!
I tuck into my oildown! | Watch The You Tube Vlog Here!
my oildown was DELICIOUS! | Watch The You Tube Vlog Here!
thank you Winston and Curtis for a fantastic day! | Watch The You Tube Vlog Here!

Grenada Traditional Mas Festival 2018

Despite Grenada being a relatively small and quiet island, islanders sure know how to party especially at carnival time! Known locally as ‘feting’ or ‘playing a mas’ the biggest island-wide fete is the annual Spicemas carnival.

For two weeks, leading up to Spicemas which falls on the second Monday and Tuesday of August, the whole island is alive with concerts and competitions – in beauty, song, pan music and costume – in addition there are all kinds of parties hosted just about everywhere – beaches, fields, stadiums, boats, road junctions, restaurants, back yards, front yards, goat and cow pens (I kid you not!).

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Shortknees, Traditional Carnival Mas players that are unique to Grenada

My favourite Spicemas event is the Traditional Mas Festival, a traditional costume competition celebrating historical carnival costumes. It is held in the town of Victoria in the parish of St Marks, on the West coast of Grenada. Victoria is a quaint and quiet fishing town with lovely wooden houses and a homely feel. It also boasts the recently opened Diamond Chocolate Factory which produces the delicious Jouvay Chocolate.

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Town of Victoria in St Marks Parish

I made my way to Victoria on a bus from Grenada’s capital, St Georges. The journey took around 50 minutes from the main bus terminal and cost EC $5. Once in Victoria it was a short five minute walk, up Diamond Street, to Hero Square where the judging of the competition takes place.

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A home in the town of Victoria

When it comes to carnival costumes, we are accustomed to the ‘barely there’ bikinis and shorts of today but centuries ago masqueraders dressed for carnival very differently. They tended to be covered from head to foot and represented either creatures or mythical figures and most came with a distinctive dance or chant.

The traditional mas bands in Grenada tend to fall under one of the following categories: Shortknee, Wild Indians, Ole Mas, Vieux Croix, May Pole, Ju Ju Worriers and Apache Indians with each parish in Grenada having its own brand of traditional mas band and costume.

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Vieux Croix Band

Past and present Grenada bands to have taken part in the traditional mas festival include: House of Justice, Hermitage Shortknee, Coast Guard Rebels, Demonic Angels, Waterloo Veteran Shortknee, Mt. Rich Shortknee, Tivoli Shortknee, Julien Fedon Foot Soliders, Telescope Shortknee, Telescope Apache, Invaders Apache, The Cultural Maypole, Windsor Forest Maypole, Red Rose Wild Indians, Northern Chantwells.

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Shortknees performing through the streets of Victoria

The afternoon kicks off with the Shortknee and Vieux Croix bands stomping, singing, banging tins and chanting their way up and down the streets of Victoria. This can go on for hours –  a true display of both stamina and athleticism – before arriving at the final judging point in Hero Square where most spectators, like myself, gather.

The Shortknee is a particularly interesting Traditional Mas character because it is unique to the island of Grenada, no equivalent can be found anywhere else in the world. It is also a national icon with its form  making up part of the logo for Spicemas Carnival.

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A Shortknee up close

The main function of the Shortknee is to protect the moral order of the country  and the songs they chant can report on the wrongdoings of an individual, a village or society as a whole. There will be lots of slandering, denouncing and ridiculing – so listen carefully, you will learn a thing or two.

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Shortknees performing through the streets of Victoria

Shortknee costume, movements and chanting is thought to be inspired by blended traditions from Italy, France and Africa. An Italian theatrical form, popular from the 16th to 18th century called Commedia dell’arte was picked up by the French who brought this tradition to Grenada, as colonisers, from 1650 to 1762 and again from 1779 to 1783. It is thought that the Shortknee is influenced by a French character called Grenade Pierrot.

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Children playing Shortknee

Shortknees are a joy to watch, vibrantly attired, dancing wildly, legs kicking high up into the air, ankle bells ringing out with every stomp, their long sleeves flailing  from side-to-side. Sometimes they move quickly or maybe they stand in one spot swaying to the rhythm as they chant back and forth. They also throw white powder, usually talcum powder, over themselves and whoever happens to be near by, a fully engrossing and mesmeric experience for spectators.

So the next time you visit Grenada to jump up in carnival, be sure to take in some of the more local events, you will be in for a treat! To stay across all carnival related activities visit: www.spicemasgrenada.com

all images were taken with a Canon 1200D Camera

Here is a still from my you tube vlog on Grenada’s Traditional Mas Festival 2018. Please watch and enjoy!

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