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BellaOnline's Caribbean Culture Editor

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Calabash Alley

Guest Author - Deborah Barocas

Explore the lands of any Caribbean Island you visit, and you will find many species of trees so beautiful and unique, that you will come away wondering if they might possess powerful magic. Some have more clout than others because of the medicinal properties or the myths believed by Island folks.

The Calabash Tree is decorative in its Island setting. It has grown wild since the beginning of time, and the large pods seen hanging from its branches like magical balloons add to a mythical fairy tale existence. These pods contain soft pulp matter and seeds. The pulp of a young Calabash used on the body of a dog suffering from sores or mange, will heal quickly, making the recovery process bearable for the poor creature. So please make sure that your dog never eats ochra, for the animal can develop mange and sores that can only be cured by the contents of the Calabash Pod.

The Calabash has many uses, but two of the most popular ones are its medicinal use and its mythical power. Both of these should be tried in order to be believed. Old folks say that feeding a picky eater from a Calabash will increase their appetite. In addition, they also said that if your child has poor speech patterns like stuttering, eating from that bowl will make you wish for him to be quiet. Is this stuff really true? I can attest to the appetite part in the case of one of my own children. It could have also been just a coincidence that after he was served food in a Calabash, his appetite was increased.

Calabashes can be used as bowls. They are cut in half, its contents scooped out, and after a good wash, left in the sun to dry. It is sanded with a fine sand paper, and the exterior is lacquered and hand painted usually of something tropical. In the Caribbean, vendors sell them, sometimes they have been made into purses and can fetch a quite good price. Others make ornaments for hanging on walls, or simple decorative bowls to be place on table tops.

In the end, I always thought that if I was ever lucky to have one in my yard, I would paint them in colors so bright, folks would assume there was always a party at my house, and would probably come over with food to celebrate. Wouldn’t that be grand? I know that is how it is done in the Caribbean Islands.

For a Caribbean food blog and recipes, please click on the related link below.
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Content copyright © 2013 by Deborah Barocas. All rights reserved.
This content was written by Deborah Barocas. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Nick Marshall for details.

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