Grenada’s spice necklace
I was lying on a beach in Grenada when I suddenly smelled Christmas. I opened my eyes to see a young man with dreadlocks and an armload of spice necklaces.
“Welcome to Grenada,” he grinned. “My name is Terry.” Grenada’s beach vendors are the most polite in the world as well as determined business people. Terry explained how his mother had strung the island-grown spices–nutmeg, mace, cinnamon, yellow turmeric root, bay leaves, cloves and cocoa beans–but I already had my wallet out. The necklaces’ heady scent intoxicated even at a distance of three feet.
Spice necklaces are not for wearing, I found out. Grenadians hang them in the kitchen for scent, or even to pinch pieces off to use in cooking.
Known as the Spice Island, Grenada’s economy has long been based on spices. Used around the world to season everything from eggnog to haggis, nutmeg has always been an especially important crop. While the industry suffered serious blows after several devastating hurricanes, Grenada’s spice heritage is now central to agritourism initiatives.
The Spice Necklace: A Food-Lover’s Caribbean Adventure is also the name of a wonderful book I packed for this trip. Canadian author Ann Vanderhoof and her husband explore a ’spice necklace’ of Caribbean islands by sailboat, discovering culture, cuisine and recipes.