The Marvellous Tastes, Sights and Sounds of Creole Day 2014 around Roseau Dominica

This prety Chapeau Paille (straw hat) is symbolic of Dominic`s Creole culture.  It was displayed on the stone wall of Cartwheel Cafe on the Bayfront in Roseau.

This pretty Chapeau Paille (straw hat), adorned with madras fabric is symbolic of Dominica`s Creole culture. It was displayed on the thick interior stone wall of Cartwheel Cafe (448-5353) on the Bayfront in Roseau.

Every year, I look forward to the last Friday in October in Dominica.  That’s when Creole Day is celebrated, in recognition and honour of the

The Kai K Boutique adjoining the Cartwheel Cafe on the Bayfront in Roseau displayed a simple and elegant dress with a Creole accent!

The Kai K Boutique (440-6922) adjoining the Cartwheel Cafe on the Bayfront in Roseau displayed a casually elegant dress  with a Creole accent  by the door for all to admire!

Nature Island`s traditional culture, comprising food, language and fashion.  This year, I decided to focus on a Creole Breakfast and  a Creole Lunch – both near the seaside – but at two different locations.

I was a little early for Creole fashions on the street that morning and I did not stay in Roseau for too long because I would be savoring Creole Lunch closer to home.  But I did enjoy the glimpses of colour and design that I observed on others  around me who proudly dressed in Creole wear.

When I arrived at Cartwheel Cafe at around 8:30 a.m., I was one of the first diners on that special occasion.  It’s a familiar place for me: I know that staff and they know my meal preferences without even asking.  I always enjoy its congenial, comfortable and casual atmosphere and the historic architectural setting close to the Cruise Ship Pier in downtown Roseau.

Flavian is one of the friendly servers at Cartwheel Cafe who always welcomes me with a warm smile.

Flavian is one of the friendly servers at Cartwheel Cafe who always welcomes me with a warm smile.

As usual, I devoured the generous serving of codfish, seasoned with herbs, which was accompanied by breadfruit (a starchy ‘provision’ that grows on a tree of that same name), a boiled egg and garden fresh salad fixings.  A cup of coffee complemented the large meal perfectly.

My Creole Breakfast at Cartwheel Cafe included boiled egg, breadfruit, salad fixings (including avocado) and seasoned codfish.  Coffee complements the meal perfectly.

My Creole Breakfast at Cartwheel Cafe included boiled egg, breadfruit, salad fixings (including avocado) and seasoned cod (salt fish). Coffee complements the meal perfectly.

This traditional meal is still a favourite in the Caribbean.  Of course, the salt fish (cod) is imported from countries where it is plentiful and  it has to be ‘unsalted’ by soaking it  overnight in cold water.  Then it is shredded and stewed or fried with various seasonings, including onion and peppers.  For me, it was an acquired taste and now I must have it at least twice a week! This filling food combination gives one energy and following this hearty dish, there is no need for a mid-morning snack.  (But if tempted, or in need of  a take-away to enjoy later in the day, I highly recommend Cartwheel mini-quiches (meat and/or vegetarian) and a slice of their incredibly moist  homemade chocolate cake).  And the price is right too!  You don’t have to wait for Creole Day to eat at Cartwheel Cafe.  At this dining

Simone at Kai K Boutique has a flare for fashion.  She is adorned in a vibrant and sexy outfit for Creole Day.  Find her at this shop and she''ll help find something new that is just right for you in quality natural fabrics for a fabulous price!

Simone at Kai K Boutique has a flare for fashion. She is adorned in a vibrant and sexy outfit for Creole Day.Go say hello and she’ll help you  find something new in quality natural fabrics at a fabulous price!

On Creole Day, it's always possible to buy a hand-made creation at varoius shops or from vendors right on the street.

On Creole Day, it’s always possible to buy at the last-minute a hand-made creation  from vendors  on the sidewalk.

establishment, you will always get a taste of Dominican-style fare.  Try it and you’ll see what I mean!

The only other item on my Creole agenda this morning was a ‘sitting’ for my annual Christmas photograph to insert in greeting cards for my Canadian relatives.  As with the last couple of years, I walked over to Lasting Images Photo Studio on King’s Lane.  It was still early in the day, and I had not worked up too much of a sweat yet.  The pleasant photographer arranged me in a few ‘standing’ poses, took the shots and then showed me each one.  I was pleased with his results, which serve as  souvenirs of  my dress-up for Creole Day every year.  While my outfit was not new, I felt like a different person in my mix of madras coördinates that I had gathered over the years.  Someday, I will look back at my participation in this important local event and smile even more broadly than I  did in the photos!

Gwendominica dressed the part for Creole Day, October31, 2014.  She is wearing a plaid (madras) jip (jupe = skirt),  a white blouse (bluse), a slightly different patterned head piece and wrist-wrap, matching necklace, earrings

Gwendominica dressed the part for Creole Day, October 31, 2014. She is wearing a plaid (madras) jip (jupe = skirt), a white lace-fringed blouse (bluse),  a different patterned head piece and wrist-wrap, coordinating necklace, bracelet and earrings. The shoulder bag is made from madras material too! Photo credit: Lasting Images, Roseau Dominica

After this pleasant start to my Creole Friday, I drove back home to write for a while before my next gastronomic outing: a long-awaited dining experience at the Westport Tavern (276-9513), a quaint seaside restaurant and bar in Citronnier, a short drive south of Roseau.

Westport Tavern is conveniently located on the seaside by the main road just south of Roseau

Westport Tavern is conveniently located on the seaside by the main road just south of Roseau

Just after midday, I left the car at home, and was quickly picked up  by one of the buses that frequents my neighbourhood.  The main road from the south of the island to Roseau was getting very busy, as  school had finished for the day and everyone made their way to their chosen Creole lunch destination.  Fortunately, I didn’t have far to go, although my friend Nancy from Springfield did got stuck in the city traffic for a while.  Eventually, she made it through, and by that time, we were both more than ready for our festive meal!

Creole Lunch at Westport Tavern in Citronnier, just south of Roseau was a delicious repast for celebrating a  very special annual event.

Creole Lunch at Westport Tavern in Citronnier, just south of Roseau was ideal for celebrating a very special annual event. There were a number of traditional dishes from which to choose on the menu.

I was craving a Crab Back, and Nancy had kindly pre-ordered this popular Creole treat when she made the reservation. This

There's my crab back. Yum!  This delicacy was prepared by Chef Sandra from Springfield. She has a knack for doing up this seasonal dish.

There’s my stuffed crab back. Yum! This delicacy was prepared by Chef Sandra from Springfield for distribution at various venues. She has a  unique knack for doing up this particular seasonal dish.

delicacy is only available during the Independence season, as hunting of this crustacean is permitted for a few months each year.  I also ordered all the side dishes on the menu. How could I resist!?! Nancy enjoyed Lionfish Couboullion ( a type of traditional stew with herbs and other seasonings).  This particular fish has a bad reputation as it eats other types of marine life. There are concerted efforts to harvest it in an attempt to control it in Dominica, as it is very tasty to eat.  Westport Tavern often serves other dishes with Lionfish to great acclaim.  You can read more about this predator here.

The expansive bar at Westport Tavern offers all kind of tempting beverages.  I had unsweetened ginger beer (no alcohol).  Its strong taste perfectly complemented my Creole meal.

The expansive bar at Westport Tavern offers all kinds of tempting beverages. I had unsweetened ginger beer (no alcohol). Its strong taste perfectly complemented my Creole meal.

Chef Jessica knows how to dish up very delicious dinners.  You should go to Westport Tavern of an evening, and find out for yourself!

Chef Jessica knows how to dish up very delicious dinners. You should go to Westport Tavern of an evening, and find out for yourself!

The lovely covered dining room offers lovely seaside views and refreshing breezes. Boaters can anchor nearby too!

The covered dining room offers lovely seaside views and refreshing breezes. Boaters can anchor nearby too! There’s a wharf that leads directly to the dining room.

DJ David Sorhaindo played wonderful tunes in keeping with the Creole season, which complemented the cheery atmosphere at Westport Tavern.

DJ David Sorhaindo played plentiful  local and regional tunes in keeping with the Creole season, which complemented the cheery atmosphere at Westport Tavern.

As we gazed out on the serene Caribbean Sea, we savored every morsel of our delectable lunches. Fortunately, we were there a bit before  other eager diners filled the spacious restaurant.  I lingered over every bite of my Creole lunch, and especially enjoyed the Plantain Madras Pie.

My Creole Lunch at Westport Tavern: from upper right: mixed provisins;  stuffed crab back; plantain pie; salad; pumpkin rice. Yum!

My Creole Lunch at Westport Tavern: from upper right (clockwise): mixed provisions; stuffed crab back; plantain pie; avocado/farine ball; salad; pumpkin rice; red beans in coconut milk. What a feast!

Award-winning Chef Jessica knows how to put a wonderful meal together – and I was fortunate to be one of the beneficiaries!

It might not surprise you that I had no interest in supper that evening.  With two wonderful Creole meals ‘under my belt’, I would say that my 2014 celebration of this aspect of Dominica’s culture was complete!

 

 

 

 

Capturing Dominica’s Creole Spirit in Traditional and Contemporary Fashions

Gwendominica gets into the spirit of the season while holding onto a traditional 'chapeau pai'.  Photo taken by Lasting Images Photo Studio in Roseau.

Gwendominica gets into the spirit of the season while holding onto a traditional ‘chapeau pai’ (straw hat). Picture taken at Lasting Images Photo Studio in Roseau.

On Friday October 25th, Dominica celebrated  Creole Day, an annual acknowledgment of traditions and language that reflect the country’s African-European

heritage.  I really like this time of year on the Nature Island, which leads up to Independence on November 3rd. This beautiful republic is now 35 years old!

The people’s proud patriotism is clearly evident as hundreds partake of numerous activities that honour their cultural ‘roots’.  On this particular day, I really enjoyed walking around town and capturing the joy and delight on camera  that seemed to pervade the festive atmosphere.  I got completely caught up in it and took great delight in capturing the essence of the day in the photos here.

As I moved through the streets of Roseau, I collected  posed and impromptu shots of people of all ages enjoying the morning (before Creole lunch! )in their individual styles.

Take a look at these:

Flavian of Cartwheel Cafe in Roseau made her own pretty Creole apparel.  She is holding on to my Creole breakfast that I am about to enjoy.

Flavian of Cartwheel Cafe  (448-5353) in Roseau made her own pretty Creole apparel. She is holding on to my Creole breakfast that I am about to enjoy.

Lovely Isis, 4 month old daughter of Dominique at Desiderata Boutique/Cafe in Roseau slept peacefully in darling Creole wear.

Lovely Isis, 4 month old daughter of Dominique at Desiderata Boutique/Cafe on Old Street (448-6522) in Roseau slept peacefully in darling Creole wear.

Carol, Proprietress of Island Wash in Pottersville (near Roseau) poses outside her establishment.  She and her husband also offer back-country hikes through their other business:  Hiking Dominica.

Carol, Proprietress of Island Wash in Pottersville (near Roseau) poses outside her establishment. She and her husband also offer back-country hikes on the Waitukubuli National Trail  through their other business: Hiking Dominica.

Karen, a news presenter at Q95 FM Radio in Roseau takes a break at Cartwheel Cafe in a Kai-K Boutique-inspired Creole outfit.  The painting behind her was created by Henderson, a Dominican artist.

Karen, a news presenter at Q95 FM Radio in Roseau takes a break at the Cartwheel Cafe in a Kai-K Boutique-inspired Creole outfit (440-6922 – on the Bayfront). The painting behind her was created by Henderson, a Dominican artist.

Jones sported a madras cloth shirt as he stood outside his wife's batik shop on King's Lane in Roseau.

Jones sported a madras cloth shirt made by his creative wife, Janice. He was standing outside her batik shop on King’s Lane in Roseau.

Elyion strikes a majestic pose in front of Stone Love Itals snackette on Cross Street, just south of ACS grocery store.  She acknowledged Creole Day as a Rastafarian by wearing an outfit adorned with African symbols of Egyptian origin.

Elyon strikes an elegant pose in front of Stone Love vegetarian snackette on Cross Street, just south of ACS grocery store. She acknowledged Creole Day as a Rastafarian by wearing an outfit adorned with African symbols of Egyptian origin.

Even at the last minute, it is easy to buy a Creole outfit on the streets of Roseau.  There are many talented seamstresses and tailors on the Nature Island!

Even at the last-minute, it is easy to buy a Creole outfit on the streets of Roseau. There are many talented seamstresses and tailors on the Nature Island!

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Bright and varied patterns of madras fabric ensure that there is a colour and design to suit everyone’s taste.

The morning’s  Creole Parade was the culmination of weeks of preparation by  talented seamstresses, excited students, enthusiastic parents and regal pageant participants.  The streets of Roseau were filled with beautiful contemporary and traditional Creole designs.   Here are a few photos to give you a feel for this wonderful celebration. When it ended around midday, I headed up to Springfield Guest House for lunch. More about that in the next post!

It was a delight to see so many young people taking pride in their heritage.

It was a delight to see so many young people taking pride in their heritage.

Hundreds of school children, teachers and parents marched in the Creole Day parade and displayed an awesome array of Creole fashions - both traditional and contemporary.

Hundreds of school children, teachers and parents marched in the Creole Day parade and displayed an awesome array of traditional Creole fashions.

Young boys and their fathers dressed in traditional male Creole wear and proudly displayed the "c..." toy trucks that they made, which is a part of Domincan hertiage

Young boys and their fathers dressed in traditional male Creole wear and proudly displayed the hand-crafted toy trucks that they constructed together, which is a long-standing Dominican tradition.

The winners of the three traditional 'Wob Dwyet" (formal Creole dress pageants) strutted their beautiful creations during the Creole Day parade.

The winners of the three traditional ‘Wob Dwyet” (formal Creole dress pageants) strutted their beautiful creations during the Creole Day parade.