Food

Craig and Shaun McAnuff bring the ‘Original Flava’ in their cookbook

Shaun and Craig McAnuff on the cover of the book

Shaun and Craig McAnuff on the cover of the book   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

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The brothers travelled from London to Jamaica in search of their family history and the food they grew up with

Craig and Shaun McAnuff’s Original Flava: Caribbean Recipes from Home (Bloomsbury) is more than just a recipe book. Part travelogue, part family history and part food memoir with gorgeous photographs, the book serves up one thrill after another, including a raft of vegetarian recipes.

Original Flava, also a YouTube channel run by the brothers, was first self-published in 2017. That, say the brothers, “Will always be close to our hearts, and we’ll always be immensely proud of it, as we did it all by ourselves: from the recipes, the photoshoot ideas, to sending off the books from our Nan’s shed!” This edition, however, “is everything we wanted it to be”. The London-based brothers travelled to Jamaica to find out more about not just their family history, but also the food they had grown up with. With a location photographer in Jamaica and a food photographer for recipes, the result is stunning.

Food memories
  • Craig: Best memories would be going to family parties and enjoying all the different types of food. Bad one... I had one too many variations at one party as a kid and started throwing up!
  • Shaun: Best memories would be at Christmas when all the family would be together and enjoying a selection of Caribbean favourites like jerk chicken turkey, lamb, ham, vegetable and rum cake. Bad is going to a friend’s house and the food not being seasoned.

Having grown up in south London, Craig and Shaun were always “surrounded by a multitude of cultures: British, Indian, Asian and African”. Food was a big part of this, and the smells and tastes inspired them to experiment with those and Caribbean food. But the biggest influence on their cooking is their Nan or grandmother. All their dishes have to be approved by her. Given that her generation cooks almost by instinct and the instructions were most probably a ‘handful of this’ and ‘a pinch of that,’ I wonder what it took to get precise measurements for the book. “It was pretty tough at first,” they admit, “because we weren’t really taught how to do measurements. We watched our nan/mum and asked her how much she was putting in and then estimated it to a teaspoon or tablespoon. It took a lot of practice to get it right.”

the sweet chilli garlic lobster

the sweet chilli garlic lobster   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

The recipes are divided into various sections: all day, side dishes, street food, drinks, desserts and more. One section, Ital is Vital, focusses on vegan dishes inspired by the Rastafarian lifestyle. This happened because Shaun went vegan for a year. “It made me feel great so I started experimenting with Caribbean fruits and vegetables,” he says “and found that you could get the same flavours that you would in a meat dish just by using the same seasonings.” What does he look for when exploring vegan or vegetarian recipes? “Texture and taste,” he says.

Many recipes have an Indian flavour. The coconut Ital stew reminds me of appam and ishtew and the yam and pumpkin curry and plantain chickpea curry bring back memories of mom’s kitchen. “Jamaican food is a pot of various influences from around the globe,” say Craig and Shaun. “We’ve adopted the saying ‘out of many, one people’.”

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Printable version | Jan 29, 2020 7:29:38 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/life-and-style/food/craig-and-shaun-mcanuff-bring-the-original-flava-in-their-cookbook/article30576951.ece

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