This one pot wonder could bring about memories from just about every phase of my life here on St Helena.
Some memories you thought you’d forget but comes back on a day when I’ve rushed to cook a pot, (as you do because it’s such a go to dish for a quick and easy meal) but on the occasions when I just didn’t get it right because I added just a bit too much cayenne, or got a little carried away with the sprinkling of some sugar, these days remind of my dad cooking plo for us as kids on the few Saturday’s when my mum worked at Salts shop. It was guaranteed on these Saturday’s he’d cook us up a pot of pilau but it would never come up to mums, it would either be too spicy or a little too salty but nonetheless it was pilau and we always enjoyed it after teasing him as well.
Then on the rare occasion that I now make it to Ruperts for a leisurely ride or even to Sandy Bay, the smell of smoke from the makeshift fire grates and Rajah curry powder next to the salty air of the South Atlantic this brings back memories of our teenage years when the way to get out of the house on school holidays would be getting together at Ruperts and lighting up a fire and cooking a good old pot of pilau, like Robin said everyone had an ingredient to bring, of which many a time someone would forget something but we improvised. Writing this make me feel nostalgic for those days of my youth once again especially with some of those friends being far away but it brings a smile to think that whenever they do come back there will always be an occasion to relive those moments with a good old pot of pilau.
No outdoor event was complete without Plo’. Mummy and Aunties cooking fish plo’ in a massive silver pot over a makeshift fire balanced on jagged rocks at Lemon Valley or piece bacon Plo’ cooked on raised stones and an old iron grate on the dry yellow grass at Horse Pasture during the Easter holidays camping. At Francis Plain served up from the boot of your car at school sports days or best of all down the Seaside with your friends after a night out.
Ican’t remember exactly when I had my first taste of St Helenian food but am I glad I did?! We have neighbours who are from St Helena and I have to admit that until I met them I would have assumed St Helena had some connection with St Helens in Merseyside which shows how little I knew about the place!
I have been intrigued about the place ever since, everything from the giant tortoise to the controversial airport, from the unconventional way to get there to the delicious food which I have been very lucky to sample on more than one occasion!
I’ve eaten the food when there’s been a social occasion and it seems to me that St Helenian food and a get together go hand in hand!
Plo is quite frankly delicious especially when accompanied by a dollop of chutney, fish cakes are nice as are the stuffed pepper things (damn I can’t remember there name). Cheese straws always seem to be made in abundance and are so moreish!!!
The showstopper has to be the coconut fingers though, OMG they are amazing and my friends make them perfectly but funnily enough never make enough (I actually don’t think there’s a number that would satisfy ‘enough’).
I think there’s a link between the food and my experience of St Helena culture, both are very welcoming, interesting and make me feel part of something kinda special. My friends are the only people who I feel ok just walking through their front door without knocking because “that’s what we do on the island” similarly Plo is usually served in a big pot as if to say “come, help yourself”. I love how the culture around St Helenian food is so social and that that culture has made its way to a little part of South Bristol. Oh and I’ve gained two awesome friends who happen to make some of the most delicious food!
very place has a dish that is forever associated with that place. For me, Plo is that Saint dish. It is so deeply linked to island life, it would be the one thing every Saint could make. Other that being a simple and straight forward to make, its versatility means it can be made just about anywhere – at home, in a field or on the rocks.
It is a kind of social community dish. So much a part of island life that if you were having a gathering (day’s out), you would ‘throw in’ something for a pot of Plo. Someone would be responsible for making it (or sometimes a few people), someone would have a large enough pot, someone would bring the rice, another some veg, and so on. Normally together you would make a sloppy Plo (being the more common consistency) and if you were lucky, or there was enough, you might get the burned bit at the bottom of the pot. Which always tastes great.
A good sloppy Plo is my favorite, with a nice bit of Veg. My brother made the best sloppy Plo I’ve ever tasted. It is special because of what it means to Saint culture, and for this link.