Tunisia in Guadeloupe, “The Secret Chef of Gosier”

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As our readers know, our use of the title of Antonio Benítez Rojo’s influential text, The Repeating Island: The Caribbean and the Postmodern Perspective represents both our tribute to a lost friend and a simple way of addressing scholars and readers whose interests focus on pan-Caribbean literatures and cultures.  Benítez-Rojo tried to move away from reductionist definitions of the Caribbean or descriptions based on historical or political binaries, simple explorations of roots, etc. In his discussion, the elements of performance, improvisation, and polyrhythm have to be taken into account to understand the general characteristics of specific territories in the broader Caribbean.

Many of our posts illustrate the polyrhythmic cross-currents that make up the Caribbean. I am not sure whether it is because I am hungry or because I am mourning the Cuban scholar (having just realized that it has been ten years since his death), or both, but the article below, Alexander Britell’s article “The Secret Chef of Gosier” (Caribbean Journal, 21 February 2015) seems to exemplify the dynamic performances and improvisations that continue to inform Caribbean ethos, or as Benítez-Rojo preferred to call it, in his ever-poetic and loving way, the cultures of the People of the Sea. “The Secret Chef of Gosier” features Imen Epaminondas and her culinary workshop YaKeen. A Tunisian-born former economics professor living in Guadeloupe, combines her classical French cuisine training with Tunisian and Caribbean traditional recipes and spices to create something new and exciting.

Here are excerpts of Britell’s mouth-watering descriptions with a link to the full article below:

It was nighttime in Gosier, the market bubbling, the aroma of punch coco winding through the air. We sat on a couple of stools, front row seats to the pink and white culinary workshop of Imen Epaminondas.

She didn’t start here, in the kitchen with the smoke and the oil. In her previous life, the Tunisian native was an economics professor. But as with all great things, it was not as it had begun. And three years ago she came here to Guadeloupe in the Caribbean, two and a half years later opening YaKeen, the laboratory where she combines her classical French training with Tunisian spice and French West Indian flavor.

[. . .] Now it was night, though, the hour of the bokit, that quintessentially Guadeloupean dish – a deep fried pocket of dough stuffed with whatever protein your heart desired and a mysterious, vibrant sauce. Wherever you are in this archipelago, you must eat it. And it is one of the great things you will ever eat. Imen’s secret was that her bokits were even better than that.

We ordered two- one of classic poulet and one of accras, both astonishingly good- perfectly crunchy yet soft dough and a festival of flavors within. Then we ordered another—one she devised with morue and fried egg and tomato and Tunisian sauce and that was that. She [. . .] brought out two samples: a sesame-scented samosa and a cinnamon half-moon pastry, flavors of the Magrheb she once called home. [. . .]

For full article, see http://www.caribjournal.com/2015/02/21/the-secret-chef-of-gosier/

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