Goat Head Callalo Soup
The soils of Clarendon plains on the island are rich in nutrients. To export sugar to Europe from the island, the English brought the farm laborers from India to work on the sugarcane farms in early 19th century. The descendents of the Indian laborers are now native islanders refer to as East Indians; some still farm the land growing sugarcane on Clarendon plains.
Due to climate change, the rainfall pattern became erratic turning the Clarendon plains into an arid land. The farmers became dependent on the deep well water for irrigating crops. More they pumped from the deep wells, more sea water entered into the aquifer contaminating the fresh water with sea salt. The salt from the irrigation turned the soils into a hard pan.As the crop output fell, some farmers abandoned farming for factory jobs and few like Mr. Lakhan still toughing it out. Lakhan was a man of austerity. He was a cane farmer, growing sugarcane on a piece of family inherited land.
“Well you are the soils expert, you tell me what we shall to do to improve the crop yields,” asked Lakhan.
“It took decades to arrive at this point and it takes at least that long to get out of this situation you know,” “I am afraid there is no short term solution for this problem,” Juggernaut was not very helpful. “You can try drip irrigation rather than flooding the land to cut down the amount of well water.”
“True, what else?”
“Since the island in general receives good rainfall elsewhere, the watershed areas have to be expanded to harness the rainwater runoff to replenish the groundwater.”
“OK, I am inviting you and your family to attend a gathering at our home this weekend to worship the Rain God,” Mr. Lakhan was kind.
“We are honored to be invited.”
Juggernaut attended the activities along with his niece Aruna visiting the island on vacation. Lakhan’s small home was crowded with the people came to worship the rain god.The believers sang several devotional songs praising the virtues of rain god and begging him not to abandon his devotees in need of desperate rains.
“As a guest of honor I invite Mr. Juggernaut to taste the soup made from the sacrificial goat,” declared Mr. Lakhan as if he was offering a toast to the chief guest.
Aruna also received a cup of goat soup. The thick soup with chunks of goat meat and strong curry flavor was refreshingly delicious.
“How you like the soup Miss? Inquired Mr. Lakhan.
“I love it, particularly the shredded greens,” Aruna was thankful.
“You mean the chopped Callaloo bush.”
“What is Callaloo?”
“It is kind of local spinach we use in soups and also cook as a green vegetable.”
“The soup has a strong meat flavor too.” Aruna was very descriptive.
“Sure, the goat meat has a strong flavor you know, particularly the brain.”
“You mean you cooked the goat head?”
“Yeah, using a machete, I crack opened the head and smashed it to get the brains out along with meat,” “those pieces are from the brain,” “Let me get you one of the eye balls for you, you will love it,” Mr. Lakhan went inside the kitchen to bring the eye ball for the special guest.
Aruna ran into the backyard to throw up to empty her stomach as she learnt about the brains and eye balls.
Mr. Lakhan, the sugarcane farmer was also a band leader.His orchestra “Merry Indians” with all his children as band members started playing Indian music loudly.Mr. Lakhan did not play any instrument instead he kept himself busy adjusting the sound system.Once in a while through the microphone he made announcements like; “still lots of food left, go help yourselves before it gets cold,” “don’t just standby come shake your legs.”
Aruna don’t want to take part in any more activities since she threw up. Juggernaut thanked Mr. Lakhan for being a kind host and specially thanked for the goat soup callaloo.
On the way back from the plains, rain started pouring turning the streets into streams.Apparently, the rain god was responding to Mr. Lakhan’s prayers.Juggernaut stepped up the speed to reach the upper elevations to avoid his car stalling on flooded farm road. “I wish Mr. Lakhan not mentioned about the goat head and mashing it with machete, that made me sick,” lamented Aruna chewing hard on bubble gum to suppress the strong after taste of goat head soup still left in her mouth.