Sunday, 11 April 2010

• Mauby

This is a REAL blast from the past - mauby syrup! Amazing stuff. When I was at university, I became close friends with several students from the U.S. Virgin Islands and the West Indies. As has always been the case with me (and with my good friends) food played a large part in our daily lives; we used to cook at home and bring in food for each other and we used to go to each other's houses to cook and eat together.

Wendy, a friend whom I've unfortunately lost touch with over the years, was from Trinidad and I often wound up at her family home where we'd study and talk. One of the many different foods she introduced me to was a drink called Mauby.

As well as being a drink mauby is the dried bark of the Caribbean Carob Tree (Colubrina Reclinata), a tree found in Haiti, Puerto Rico, northern parts of the Caribbean and southern parts of Florida (Wikipedia). The drink is an infusion of the bark mixed with sugar and, occasionally other flavours such as cinnamon, allspice, star anise and vanilla. I particularly remember mauby because it took me a while to get used to it! I'm not a great fan of flavours toward the bitter end of the palate so I swallowed a lot of the stuff before I understood what the fuss was all about! It's a very distinctive (and, to my palate, bitter) sweetened drink that is made much like iced tea. In my friend's family it was consumed in much the same way as iced tea was at my house.

Many years on (30, in fact!) when Steve was looking for a non-fruity drink, I thought of mauby. Then I started searching the web for it and I found it here at the Afro Caribbean Food store. I ordered the syrup as well as the bark which I'd see made into a drink at Wendy's house.

Mauby bark

It arrived promptly (within 5 days!) and I immediately opened the package and unwrapped my goodies. Packaging now strewn about the house, I made my way to the kitchen and mixed up a cold drink using the syrup... sipped... yeah! Ah! Steve tried it and he likes it very much too. What a find that was!  While writing this I thought of another drink from college days... sorrel!  Think I'll get searching on that one next...

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