Grenada: Cinnamon Rolls
Where do Cinnamon Rolls come from?
Last year when I visited Grenada (the Spice Islands) I had a goal to pick my own nutmeg. I was able to fulfil this dream, to learn so much about nutmeg and to bring loads home with me.
This year I was hoping to be able to see how cinnamon is grown and harvested as last year we ran out of time to achieve this.
Our hotel owner was asking me what I wanted to see that was different this year so I told him about my cinnamon quest. He went and made a phone call and within a few minutes was back with the news that he had arranged for a gentleman called Mr MacDonald to collect us and take us up to his family plantation which included cinnamon trees! I was really excited and even the prospect of getting up early on the arranged morning didn’t dampen my excitement!
Mr MacDonald arrived on time and suggested we go in our hire car but that he would drive – the roads are really steep and windy in Grenada. Mr R and I had to agree this sounded a good idea. It took us about an hour to arrive at the family ‘plantation’, relieved to get out of the car really. I usually sit in the front passenger seat which means being on the side of the edge of the road, usually without any barrier to stop the car rolling all the way down!
Mr Mac Donald, who wished us to call him Chris, introduced us to his family. The first brother was called ‘Serious’ or ‘Seriously’!
He had a small charcoal fire going and was cooking fried chicken in a large pot of oil.
Locals from the surrounding homes would walk down and buy some chicken from him at lunchtime.
Sure smelled like it was going to be good!
Serious said next time I came to come and cook lunch with him – this is an opportunity I will take up next time!
The house was a simple set of rooms on the ground floor pretty much open plan with a huge rock in the entrance, painted a sort of electric turquoise with a great saying painted on it. Imagine waking up to this every morning!
Another brother, whose name I didn’t really hear kept telling us that next time we came to Grenada we should stay with them in the house as family, that Jesus loved everyone and that he didn’t have any money. I spotted about a dozen large bottles of rum by the fridge so I guess that is why he never had any money!
Chris pointed out the tell take pink leaves of the cinnamon tree which of course we spotted many times later – once you know what you are looking for it is much easier.
Chris and his brothers cut off a branch of the cinnamon tree at the back of the house.
I really had no idea how they got the cinnamon so was very attentive during the process.
If you cut a branch off the tree you scrape the thin layer of bark off sort of like scraping Jersey Royal potatoes.
Then after scoring around the circumference of the branch you gradually slide the knife under the bark and gently lift it off of the branch.
The pieces look like bamboo and smell really fresh with just a faint smell of cinnamon.
You can burn the piece of wood once you have finished and your BBQ or fire will have a sweet, faint smell to it. The rolls were placed in a basket whilst the rest of the bark was removed.
The little girl that lived in the house was called Akita and kept looking at me with huge eyes and sometimes a little smile!
Whilst this was happening Chris took us out back to see the tree and some of the other natural spices and goodies his land provided. There was a couple of cacao trees with pods ripening in the sun. They grown only for their own consumption but of course must do all the steps themselves like the roasting of the fermented beans.
And grinding the beans into a paste.
He had plenty of mango trees and pineapples growing wild.
And unexpected lemongrass
Chris asked if I liked turmeric and promptly unearthed a tuber from which he broke off several pieces. The tuber with the roots was replaced in the soil to keep on producing edible buds or pods. This really was fresh turmeric.
I didn’t take it home because of the restrictions on bringing back fresh produce.
The family was so keen to show us around and all of the lovely produce they have there. As we were leaving Chris’s brother’s wife handed me a bag of turmeric she had dried and grated as well as some cocoa balls she had made. She also gave me a bag of the cinnamon rolls with instructions to leave them out in the sun during the day until we went home and this would help them dry out and the rolls would tighten up leaving us with one of my favourite spices – cinnamon!
I followed instructions and by the time we were leaving my fresh cinnamon rolls had dried out and curled into the darker and tighter cinnamon rolls that I knew.
As well as our cinnamon experience Chris was a great tour guide as we made our way pointing out loads of interesting places and houses on the way with a stop at a great place to view St Georges’ harbour.
The following day when we got back to our apartment there were three nutmegs on the table still in their protective fruit outer. I questioned where they had come from and apparently Chris had dropped the off for me earlier that morning. How kind!
This was just one of the amazing experiences I had this year on our trip to Grenada for the 3rd Annual Grenada Chocolate Festival. I will be writing up many more posts in the next weeks. Please leave a comment below what you would like to tick off your ‘to see/to do’ list.