I’ve written before about the language difference and communication issues as a Trini living in Guyana, even though the two countries are so close and share alot of common history. That was a difference of fast food lingo, but today I tried to give instructions over the phone, to essentially make bake. And I don’t know if the Guyanese know about bake. I mean here, bake bake* of course, as opposed to fry bake (which my grandmother used to call “fry roti” since it was essentially fried sada roti), or even tawah-bake (a rarer creature and not the same as sada roti).
But to start from the beginning.
Due to my schedule, I have some weekly help at home and I very recently worked out an arrangement where she’d make some bread for me from time to time. The bread you buy here is sooo sweet and soft and I can only manage to bake bread on weekends. And lately, I’ve been on the road and in the air on weekends. Knowing that I do cook, and having seen my mother at work in the kitchen, my helper knows that we care about the food we make and eat, and that we don’t necessarily make things the way she would. So she made to sure to find out how much salt, sugar etc I wanted in the bread and the first time was pretty good.
However, today I get a call from home. She’s mixed the flour with a bit of shortening, the sesame seeds I left on the counter, whole wheat flour etc and then realised there was no yeast…I’d forgotten to stock up. (Another reason I can’t always manage to bake on my limited free time…) No problem though – I have baking powder. So I tell her, ok use some more shortening, add some milk, and mix it somewhat “soft”. The problem came when I started to explain how to bake it. Because I wanted to turn it into bake. Bake bake. But she didn’t quite get it. I tried explaining that it shouldn’t be rolled up like a bread loaf, but flatter. Not rounded, but flat, like a flat bread. And then while I was trying to describe bake over the phone, I realised I’d never seen a bake in Guyana. Fried bakes sure – they make those here, often a bit softer and sweeter than my taste, but it’s here. But not a bake like coconut bake (or for that matter saltfish bake, as my mother will probably comment).
In the end I asked her to knead it and put it in the fridge. While I was waiting for it to bake this evening, I continued reading through the impressive and gorgeous piece of work that is Cynthia Nelson‘s book, Tastes Like Home. And it confirmed my suspicions – there is no bake bake in Guyana. Ahhhh.Of course, I could probably have done a better job of explaining, but there are some things you never think you’d need to explain. Plus, I was in the middle of explaining legal stuff and writing opinions and apparently I couldn’t switch gears into food talk.
I think I shall demonstrate coconut bake and hops in some direct cultural ambassadoring. Plus, I’ll get to eat them
* I could call it “roast bake” but I never grew up with that term, plus “bake bake” is so much more fun!
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