For three months we prepared to work with coconut oil, researching and learning how to make it. Little did we know that plan would be changed. We are now working with coconut cheese, something we knew nothing about but are slowly learning. It’s not a drastic change, and through those three months I learned a new skill to add to the bank. I’m cool with it.
Coconut cheese isn’t cheese. It is a delicious treat with the consistency of fudge and a wide variety of flavors. It’s a true staple of Dominica’s history. The “cheese” is made in many homes here, each producer adding their own style to it. I have tried ones with nutmeg, raisins, ginger, and ones with way too much sugar. They’re abundant and a few small blocks can be bought on the street for 1 EC (about 30 cents US).
It melts in your mouth after one bite while sugar takes over your tastebuds with a strong dose of coconut.
Friday morning we had our first meeting with five producers we’re working with. Intentions were discussed as we went over the goals of the entire project.
The plan is to meet with each in their respective homes to watch how they make their batches. We will note differences and techniques, and then go to work in our office. The result of our being here will include; us finding machinery to ease the process, consistency with each batch, new flavors, and exporting opportunities. I will also be working with marketing and a competition the association created.
The idea behind the competition is to keep interest high for the producers. It’s brilliant. On July 31st a major supermarket will host a taste-testing contest in which the winner gets a cash prize and shelf space. Therefore, if they work with us to improve their product the chance of them winning also improves. The incentive is there and has worked from day one. A win-win.
Monday brought the first of these meetings. A woman from up the road came to our house to show us how it’s done. She has been making it for 27 years in her home, proving it to us through her effortless break down of coconuts. Her arms were a small-scale replica of an assembly line.
As we worked alongside her we learned the process and talked about life. That’s the beauty of it. Work here may be slow, but in it I have learned so much about my surroundings. It’s really a wonderful set up.
I also lucked out and dropped a coconut on my foot, thanks to our tiny countertop. As I cut my first nut it slipped out and slammed down with a hammer blow. But what’s a bruise when you get to go on a sugar high after?
That right there is about the only picture I could take, I also can’t give you the “secret” recipe. Apologies. That’s the beauty of non-disclosures.
At 10 AM this morning (Tuesday) we had a press conference. There’s something about your first press conference that gives you chills, even more so when you know nothing about it until last minute. It’s all good though, it went well. I’ll get my fifteen minutes of fame at 8.
Tune in to Channel 5 Dominica if Time Warner and Optimum pick it up at home.