I am breadfruit. I survived high seas and Blythe’s mutiny –the ups and the downs, the ebb and the flow; but, now life in St. Joseph, Barbados is different. I am unafraid if I fall and roll down Horse Hill. I’ve looked into history’s mirror, found a shining new bail.
– Eff Breadfruit Could Talk, an unpublished poetic essay.
What is it that inspired the breadfruit’s change of heart? Is it the shining new ball?.
History is full of examples that change is a constant – be it seasons or stages of life and more. Indeed, some purists argue that change is inevitable, and, if you do not change, then it will lead you.
Four years ago, Ophelia Stoute faced an uncertain financial future. So she decided to do something different:
“I lost my job and was unemployed. Unsure what I should do, I thought about many things. Among them, I noticed that some of my friends often complained
about regular flour. They had gluten or allergy problems.
I began to research how flour was made. I started with cassava flour – done the old fashioned way – grating and drying – but that was time consuming. With a little online research, I obtained a food dehydrator, experimented and made different types of flour at home,” said Stoute.
Stoute’s breadfruit flour was one of the large array of Barbadian products on display at the recent 50th Anniversary Extravaganza – organized by the Barbados Consulate at New York – and held at the Brooklyn Campus Long Island University in New York.
Packaged as O’s Breadfruit Flour – the O from Ophelia – the flour is made from a 100% local breadfruit. The brand’s logo – a Chef’s hat that fits a large O – designed by Shamekia – Stoute’s daughter – has a yellow background. Its wanton boast is “making it easier for you”.
On the package were two cake recipes – Breadfruit cupcakes and upside down pineapple cakes. Stoute explains why:
“I want to remind customers that my flour, be it breadfruit, sweet potato or coconut, is for all types of cakes including black cakes.”
Stoute – a St Lucian living in Barbados for 47 years – now operates from a factory space in Newton, Christ Church and is assessing her export options.
She further states: “We must encourage customers to buy local. We still have much work to do including product education.”
One published source tells of the breadfruit’s early Caribbean beginning:
“Bligh delivered his breadfruit to the islands of St. Vincent and Jamaica. And there, after all that time and trouble, breadfruit hit a culinary wall. Nobody liked it. The slaves refused to eat it. They fed it
to the pigs. “
Another source notes:
“Today, however, breadfruit is a staple of Jamaican cuisine. The versatile fruit can be boiled, baked, fried, and steamed, mashed to make porridge or pudding (with added vanilla and nutmeg), packed into pies, or ground into flour.”
Yet another published source describes the tall, leathery-leaved tropical tree that bears yellow-green, football-sized fruits as handsome and maybe the world’s next superfood: heavy in starch, with a carbohydrate content equivalent to that of potatoes, corn, and rice; and they contain a hefty complement of fiber, minerals (including potassium, phosphorus, and calcium), and vitamins.
Jamaica’s National Tropical Botanical Garden’s Breadfruit Institute views breadfruit as a potentially life-saving
In Barbados, the breadfruit can be found on every banquet menu – celebrated and honoured – pickled, and, treated like a king. In the Diaspora, for some a fig of breadfruit is like “gold”.
For the record, there were other Bajan flour-based products – banana and conkie mix – on display at the Extravaganza. The choice of breadfruit was simply a matter of its historical value.