There is a certain humility that comes with Good Friday. I was born and raised Roman Catholic in Trinidad and to me and my family, when it came to food, it meant a meatless, egg-less simple breakfast. The fanciest thing we might have had was smoke herring with bake or bake and buljol (saltfish aka cod) or maybe for Daddy mackerel or sardines with bake. Lunch would have been served late, like between 2 and 3 pm as we would have gotten up late that morning anyhow and Lunch would fill you up until bedtime. My mother would do her salt salmon with her lemon and capers olive oil and onions. She served it thank God, with dumplings and what we call “blue food” so, cassava, dasheen, yam and eddoes which off set that salt.
Sometimes she would do a potato salad as a side with it, or if she felt like cooking, some callaloo that for me helped to off set even more of the fish’s saltiness. Sometimes in stead of a potato salad she might do a green fig salad. That was the way she learned to do Good Friday Lunch and thankfully, some of my cousins still do and I think it is the kind of dish my sister will attempt as she has easier access to the West Indian markets than I do. It was not a favourite of mine but I did eat it and still will, but to say I will carry it on is doubtful because salt salmon is not something readily available where I live and I don’t think my guys will gobble it up. I was even looking on line for a photo but couldn’t find a true Trini Good Friday Salmon plate of food to show you what it looks like, but I had no luck.
This year Good Friday is taking place at home. There are no stations of the cross to go to, no Masses this weekend, no Christian services and for our Jewish brothers and sisters, a very different Passover. With everyone in isolation to stop the spread of this virus, it has been nice to see that we have gotten creative and are connecting with each other with IMO, House Party, using the Amazon Echo Show , Facetime, Google Home etc. services are being live streamed and we are sharing in a way that’s uniting us with family, friends and long lost friends more that ever. A lot of good has come from so much bad in a month and a bit and it’s nice to recognize the positive perks when the day gets boring or rough.
This Good Friday, we used the Bassa we had in the freezer to make our lunch. No one wanted to cook a lot but we wanted something tasty and a little different from how we usually serve it. Logan cooks on Mondays and Fridays so that he can learn a new dish with a little supervision from me. Knowing it was fish for Good Friday, he thought that maybe we could do some sort of sandwich. Instead of using Kaiser buns, I asked him if he would be interested in using bake and he was eager to learn how to make it. You must understand that when a Trini says bake, it means that chances are, the dough is fried. Sometimes we call it float as it floats in the hot oil as it fries. Now there are bakes that you do bake in the oven but sometimes to differentiate between the two we call it roast bake which, if if is made with coconut, can be called coconut bake and in some recipe books you will even see floats or fry bake, called Johnny bake. Whatever you call it, they all taste good. So,now that I have confused anyone not from the Caribbean, just try and keep up.
For the Bake you will need – 4 cups of flour, 1 ½ teaspoons of salt, 4 teaspoons of baking powder and some water and enough oil for frying. (if you are looking for 8 bakes then ½ this recipe. This will be enough to make sandwiches for 4 people)
Sift your dry ingredients together, add enough water to make a soft dough and knead for about 10 minutes. Cover and let the dough rest for ½ hour or more. Cut in pieces and roll each to 5 to 6 inches in diameter and ¼ inch thick. Fry in hot oil turning once and draining on kitchen paper. Place bakes in a dish, cover with foil and put in oven on the Warm setting while you cook the fish.
Always, vegetables are served with meals in this house so to make it interesting, I had Logan cut up some carrots, bell peppers, tomatoes and cabbage to top the fish and to use up lingering ingredients in the fridge. If you have been following me, you know how I feel about lingerers.
How about a Sauce? So, there were two that I did very quickly. The first was poured out of the bottle – lol – I have tamarind sauce and it has quite a hot kick to it so for sure that was a must and the other was a quick mix of mayonnaise, relish and a pinch of salt for a tangy kick for anyone not interested in the heat of the tamarind sauce.
Preparing and cooking the fish. I cut the Bassa into 4 pieces, rinsed them and patted dry. Logan seasoned some flour with thyme, garlic powder, onion powder, salt and pepper, cayenne pepper, lemon zest of ½ a large lemon and added some chopped green onion. He coated the fish with the seasoned flour and covered the bottom of the frying pan with olive oil. Once the oil was hot, he fried his fish turning 3 or four times, removing and draining on a paper towel once golden brown with a light crust. Drizzle the fish with the juice of ½ a lemon.
And there you have it. Good Friday lunch served made with just what we had in the house. Logan’s version of a fish sandwich. In my head I was imagining shark and bake however what he did with the Bassa was very tasty. It was simple and humble in keeping with what Good Friday is supposed to mean to Christians. It was a meal that went along with the quiet reflection we are supposed to do on the day Christ died. We reflect on what that means in our religion – the sacrifice and love and compassion and forgiveness it represents and in this time of pandemic, we could use this time in isolation to reflect on how we live our lives, what we are learning to do to achieve our simple goals, such as keeping our students engaged in learning, using the money we have for what we need as opposed to using it for what we want. We are practicing selflessness by staying indoors to prevent not just ourselves but others from becoming ill and we are patiently lining up at the grocery store and showing tolerance and respect for the protocols in place to keep us safe when we have to be outdoors. We are making masks to help those working with the public and we are shopping on behalf of others too compromised to go out. We are showing the goodness we hold in our hearts and it is wonderful to see. This Good Friday was not just part of the usual Easter long weekend, it was exactly what it is supposed to be – a time of selflessness, humility and reflection.
Stay home. Stay safe. Stay healthy ~ Daniella and family.