A Canadian Thanksgiving on Dominica, the beautiful and bountiful Nature Island

Anthurium lilies perfectly complement my celebration of Thanksgiving in Dominica.

Anthurium lilies perfectly complement my celebration of Thanksgiving in Dominica.

It`s a special weekend in my `home and native land.“ And although I am far from the `far north,`I am taking time to celebrate Thanksgiving,

Despite being a dark day, a beautiful rainbow touches Roseau, as seen from my porch.

A beautiful rainbow touches Roseau, as seen from my porch. I give thanks for the exceptional natural beauty found on Dominica.

Canadian style. For those readers who were unaware, this annual celebration of the harvest takes place on the second weekend of October, and is not to be confused with the larger festivities of the same name that our American friends celebrate on the last Thursday of November.  In Canada, the primary purpose of this holiday is as it says, to `give thanks“, in both sacred and secular ways. Thanksgiving was proclaimed an official holiday  in 1957, but has actually been celebrated  since the time when European explorers traversed the northern terrain in the 16th century.  It`s a weekend when families gather together and eat a huge meal (or more) in anticipation of the dark winter days ahead.  The harvest is now in and it`s time to savour it.

While I think of my brothers and their families in Ontario, my aunt and cousins in Nova Scotia and other friends scattered across Canada, I will be with them in spirit as I dine on a divine Thanksgiving feast that I have prepared at my home in Dominica. I also feel that it is timely to personally express gratitude for all the good things that life has to offer  me on the Nature Island, and to thank all the people in Dominica who have helped me in various ways, both personally and professionally.  I am also thankful for opportunities that I have had here that I perhaps would not have had in Canada.  My life is that much richer due to the fascinating people I`ve met and the adventures I`ve had on the Nature Island, many of which are documented in this blog!

As I write this piece, Tropical Storm Gonzalo is in the area, but the sombre weather does not deter my excitement about the  home-cooked meal that awaits me. Of course, in Dominica, with its rich volcanic soil and temperate climate, the harvest is endless!  Part of  the fun is the enjoyment of different types of produce in different seasons.  For example, in the rainy season (now) avocados are found in abundance.  However, free range eggs are harder to find because the hens prefer a little drier ground for their laying endeavors. Suffice to say that it would be extremely difficult to starve on Dominica!

I coudn`t wait long once the pumpkin pie came out of the oven, as you can see.  The gluten-free flour made tasty pastry!

I couldn`t wait long once the pumpkin pie came out of the oven, as you can see. The gluten-free flour made tasty pastry!

An added perk, which is a bonus to me due to  numerous food sensitivities, is the establishment of a “health food“ store on Great George Street in Roseau.  It`s called Fresh Vitamins and apart from  stocking a variety of supplements, they sell gluten-free flours and dairy-free products, among other healthful items. This year, I baked my pumpkin pie with gluten-free flour (a mixture) and rice flour.  The pastry turned out well, although the consistency is a little denser than with regular flour.  I substituted almond milk for dairy. I really like the flavour!  But I do confess to using Libby`s pure canned pumpkin.  The local variety of this gourd is lovely and sweet, but I find its texture is stringier than northern varieties and can be too wet to bake well.  Yes, I have tried it before!

Roots Farm is always my first stop at the Saturday Roseau Market. Their delectable produce is beyond compare!

Roots Farm is always my first stop at the Saturday Roseau Market. Their delectable produce is beyond compare!

When I shopped for produce at the Saturday Roseau Market, I was delighted with the abundant finds.  My first stop was the stall of Roots Farm, where I found a selection of greens, as well as buttery lima beans, the best bananas  and the uncommon fruit called mangosteen, a treat from organic farmers Karen and Roy.  They are very serious about their sustainable farming practises and I always enjoy their nutritious offerings to the max.  You can read about their successful venture here. Then I purchased other  local fruits and vegetables from trusted vendors who offer the freshest produce at the best price.  I always appreciate tangy watercress from the river banks in the island`s interior, and I like to sample different `provisions,` that is, starchy root vegetables.  For my T-Day  (Thanksgiving) dinner, I chose very sweet  sweet potatoes.  I also found some young beets, which are not so common on the tables.  I also picked up a package of hibiscus flower sepals, to make a spicy red drink called sorrel, with fresh ginger, bay leaf, cloves and cinnamon sticks.   This particular ` red flower`seems early this year. Perhaps humid rainy weather is too its liking!

This variety of sweet potato is so creamy and buttery that it melts right in my mouth!

This variety of sweet potato is so creamy and buttery that when baked, it melts right in my mouth!

These mangosteens are an uncommon fruit on Dominica.  I was thrilled when Karen from Roots Farm offered me this naturally sweet treat.

These mangosteens are an uncommon fruit on Dominica. I was thrilled when Karen from Roots Farm offered me this naturally sweet treat.

The Nature Island`s offerings never cease to amaze me.

The Nature Island`s offerings never cease to amaze me.

The variety of fruits found on the Nature Island is astounding!  Here is a sampling: clockwise, from left, organic bananas, pineapple, papaya, avocado and mango.

The variety of fruits found on the Nature Island is astounding! Here is a sampling: clockwise, from left, organic bananas, pineapple, papaya, organic avocado and mango.

The Saturday Roseau Market is a cornucopia of fresh seasonal produce from around the island

The Saturday Roseau Market is a cornucopia of fresh seasonal produce.

The local chicken was seasoned and sauced with my own mixture of ingredients found on Dominica.

The local chicken was seasoned and sauced with my mixture of ingredients found on Dominica.

Locally-made pepper sauce, honey, thyme, parsley, green onion, lemon are all found on Dominica.  I just added a little olive oil to the seasoning  mix.

Locally made pepper sauce, honey, thyme, parsley, green onion, celery and lemon are all found on Dominica. I just added a little olive oil to this home-made seasoning mix.

I was lucky to buy the last locally grown chicken in the cooler at the Whitchurch IGA grocery store in Roseau a few days ago. They are small and tasty, even more so (I think) because I stuff them with herbs and coat them with a little olive oil, lemon and salt.  I wrap the sweet potatoes in foil and roast them while the chicken cooks.  The lima beans, carrots and arugula are steamed lightly.

It may not be a traditional Canadian Thanksgiving dinner, but it`s a  Dominican feast, for sure!

My Canadian-Dominican Thanksgiving feast.  I am going to make short work of it right now!

My Canadian-Dominican Thanksgiving feast. I am going to make short work of it right now!

Before I `break bread“ and partake of my delectable meal, I once again give thanks for the goodness that grows so easily on the Nature Island and for the numerous opportunities I have had to grow as a person here.  `We are indeed blessed,`to use a local common expression.

As for the calories sustained, an abundance of walks and hikes are planned for the near future.  You`ll read about them soon.

I give thanks for the countless gorgeous sunsets over the Caribbean Sea that I see right from my porch!

I give thanks for the countless gorgeous sunsets over the Caribbean Sea that I see right from my porch!

Happy Thanksgiving to one and all, wherever you live on the planet!

 

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9 comments on “A Canadian Thanksgiving on Dominica, the beautiful and bountiful Nature Island

  1. gwendominica says:

    Reblogged this on Canary Gal and commented:

    I am reposting this piece on Canary Gal to emphasize the plethora of incredible produce found on the Nature Island.

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  2. Happy Thanksgiving from Canada, Gwen!

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  3. Karen says:

    Loved it and appreciate the plugs! And appreciate knowing that that red sweet potato is so good baked. I’ve only had that boiled and it was too dry/hard/thick for my taste…needed plenty of “gravy” to swallow. Will try baked. 🙂

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  4. Corinne Mah says:

    Thanks for the lovely blog post and happy thanksgiving to you!

    I’m off to dine with Mom and we will have lunch at my sister’s tomorrow!

    Xo Corinne

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  5. Happy Canadian Thanksgiving from London, Gwen! Thinking of all my family and friends back home as well, and grateful for the opportunity to travel. Thanks for this beautiful post.

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    • gwendominica says:

      Thanks Rachel, for your expression of gratitude. Although we are away from Canada, our hearts our definitely with our loved ones there during this wonderful celebration. Hope you`ll have a fabulous Thanksgiving Day in London, U.K.!

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