Five Stars for Middle Caicos Grits
by Marsha Pardee Woodring
Many of you have heard about the magic of Middle Caicos and some have even experienced the wonders of this magnificent place. Its breathtaking views, nature trails, caves, Loyalist ruins and Arawak ancestors have lured the more adventurous to these lustrous shores. But few have thought of Middle as a cornucopia of culinary delights. Well, that may be a stretch if your taste buds froth for international fare, but if your bellys set for good home cooking, then this is the place to pull up a chair.
Unlike Provo, Middle Caicos is blessed with a bit of rain here and again and soils that sustain a crop or two. Or maybe its the ages old ingenuity and intuition of the local folk that inspire the plants to produce. Either way, youd be duly impressed to see how their gardens grow. From medicinal herbs to majestic fruit trees, Middles form of agriculture is a cultural feast to behold. And what a feast it is! Cassava, okra and guava, tamarinds, sapidillas and sugar apples, to name just a few. But the cornerstone of their crops is corn.
Home is where the heart is when it comes to Caicos corn. Home grown and home ground that is, as they use the pearly hearts to make their fabulous grits. Once harvested, the corn is dried and the kernals stripped from the cob. These are then ground with hand grinders, once for coarse, twice for a fine grind. Next, the laborious process of fanning the grits to release the chaff. Fanning involves the use of a specially made shallow rim basket, locally known as a fanner basket. In this vessel, the grits are tossed and turned with the lighter chaff blowing away in the breeze.
Its hard to believe that these gastronomically gratifying grits are considered a mere a staple for the folks on Middle Caicos. But everyone on island has his or her own special blend. Miss Joycelyn Hall has a basic recipe that she follows, but often adds a variety of other ingredients. Daniel Forbes Conch and Grits brings the scent of the ocean to this simple dish. Once a well kept secret, these grits have now got Provos own galloping gourmets racing for their recipes. First off the mark was Barefoot Cafés Middle Caicos Grit Terrine with Caicos Conch Sauté created by Chef Rich Benussi. Clive Whent of the Aqua Restaurant has entered another thoroughbred for the recipe bookies, Blackened Lobster on Middle Caicos Goat Cheese Grits.
At last, the good hearted people of Middle have kindly agreed to share their tasteful treasure with the world at large. Decked in muslin finery and topped with a twist of twine, the grits are for grabs on selected tourist shop shelves. And to complete the ensemble, pick up a beautifully woven basket or two. Other hand made items from Middle include mosquito twitches and whisk brooms made from local palms, and an assortment of stuffed animals and dolls. But supplies are limited, mainly to protect the resource. The people of Middle are committed to living within their means, which includes not overtaxing the environment that surrounds and supports them.
All products are marketed through the locally managed Middle Caicos Coop and Eco-tourism Projects. These programs are an effort to promote and develop sustainable tourism activities that highlight the cultural heritage of this island while protecting the natural environment. Middles motto, Our Past is Our Future
.Explore it With Us, welcomes all to enjoy this special place. And while you are there, enjoy some homemade gourmet grits!
Places for sale on Providenciales: Barefoot Café, Neptunes Nectar, Maison Creole, Aqua Terrace