STEP ONE – Music
Hubski is demographically US-centric site so I thought I'd tip a hat to the influence Jamaican history has had on the UK. For this, I will need to make a classic Jamaican dish.
Youth and youth, don't be rude
It's time to eat some good food
For the poor underwealthy
Need to be healthy
PEAS AND RICE!
Play the music.
STEP TWO – Procure Ingredients
In order to be the inception of the Grubski challenge, I want to do this in eight steps for EightBit but also use only eight ingredients, e'ight?
Here are my eight: Rice, Black Beans (what Jamaicans call peas in peas and rice), Onion, Scallions, Coconut Milk, Garlic, Chilli, Chives.
The music you are listening to is One Step by Max Romeo (Maxwell Livingston Smith) one of the artists that brought reggae to Britain in one of the waves of cultural immigration that introduced a Jamaican diaspora to London. He was banned by the BBC for suggestive lyrics in his hit Wet Dream (which he insisted was a song about a leaky roof – suuuure it was Maxwell) and founded The Upsetters who worked with Lee Scratch Perry and went on to form the Wailers, so he's surely worth a listen. Born in 1944 he left home at 14 and worked on a sugar plantation before being spotted in a talent contest at 18.
Sadly, refined sugar has historically been intertwined with the slave trade and huge fortunes (Tate & Lyle) were built on the labour of slaves. Apart from the karmic debt of pain on your plate implied by sugar, it's terrible for your health. No sugar was used in the creation of this dish.
STEP THREE – Prepare Ingredients
We're going to finely chop our onion and grate or dice our ginger (I prefer fine dicing as I like the crunch of ginger root on the tooth). Drain your black beans, measure your rice, slice your scallions, crush your garlic, shiver your timbers and pass the doobie.
STEP FOUR – The Fry
In a little oil, brown your onions and ginger for a few minutes – cover the raas clart dish, we've talked about this before, it keeps your onions moist– and then add your dry rice and fry in, allowing it to be covered in oil and flavour. Add your black beans and allow to heat through. Throw in some salt and pepper and your chilli.
STEP FIVE – The Simmer
Now you can measure your cup of coconut milk and a cup of water, stir through, cover and allow to simmer
STEP SIX – Rum
While we're waiting for the rice to cook through, let's pour ourselves a shot of rum; of course. For this particular dish let's use La Negrita, often considered little better than a cooking rum but shut up.
Jamaica was getting along quite happily before the Spanish in 1509 and then the British around 1670 settled there and implicated it in the Atlantic slave trade. Due to its fabled beauty it became a favourite place to jump ship for privateers; meanwhile the 18th century slave-powered cultivation of sugar and coffee made it a valuable jewel in the British crown. It wasn't all plain sailing for the Brits, though, there were over a dozen slave uprisings which saw self-liberated communities establish themselves in the interior of the island.
In the 19th century, some of these 10,000 black freemen were employed in militias to keep the enslaved population in check; for example in the widespread revolt known as the Baptist War. A post-mortem review of this uprising was part of the impetus in the 1830's for an abolition of slavery throughout the British Empire. Thereafter for Jamaica it was a slow struggle towards increasing independence marked 100 years later by the founding of the PNP, the socialist People's National Party, which Max Romeo endorsed and in support of whom he wrote songs. The PNP themselves chose his single Let The Power Fall as their theme song for their 1972 election campaign. (They won.)
How's the rice doing? Looking good? Nice, nice.
As part of the West India Regiment, Jamaicans fought for Britain in WWI making up around 10 of 15 thousand troops. They settled in small numbers in Britain thereafter and went on to fight in WWII, but the largest influx was post-war. Trigged by a hurricane in 1944 but most by the promise of post-war jobs, a wave of immigration through to the late 60's (continuing in smaller numbers thereafter) led to a thriving and vibrant community establishing itself and bringing with it culture, cuisine and music.
One hugely popular genre which took off in the UK was ska. Here's the outrageously attractive Millie Small singing My Boy Lollipop, probably the first breakthrough ska hit in the UK in 1964.
STEP SEVEN – Stir In The Fresh
By now your rice and peas will be fluffy and cooked through, so you can throw in your chopped scallions, your garlic, your chives and any other cheeky spices you have to hand (cumin for me). Stir through a little more, keep the heat low, you're almost ready to serve.
Hugely influential in the UK, Jamaican music brought reggae, influenced Indian bhangra, and fused punk and reggae to produce two-tone – the soundtrack to my eighties – and thereafter trip-hop, jungle, dub-n-bass. All my jams, yo.
What's that, you don't know what two-tone sounds like? Why, here, brave reader, have an earful of this hour-long mix you can enjoy while you're eating your modern peas and rice.
STEP EIGHT - Youth and youth, don't be rude, It's time to eat some good food
Now your rice is ready, I suggest you serve it with something cold and dark; perhaps a Mahon Negra; and some hot sauce for extra kick.
Meanwhile you can wander through the history of Jamaica and the UK on Wikipedia. The influences are profound.
In this dish: one can of black beans, one cup of long grain rice (with one cup of coconut milk and one cup of water), one small onion, a tablespoon of fresh ginger root, a handful of chives, one garlic clove, one scallion (spring onion), one chilli. Serves 2 - 4 MAYBE.
No sugar was harmed in the making of this dish; and know what else? It's totally vegan.