... but I stopped. Now I'm a dad, and may blog again...

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Block Chop 24: Manchester Caribbean Carnival

I’ve walked in through the front door, hauled my carcass up the stairs to the flat, extracted my aching feet from my walking boots, peeled off my sweaty socks and collapsed bodily on the floor.  My feet are so disgusting that only sticking them under a cold shower can help bring them back from the brink.  I’ve spent the last five hours wandering around the Carnival at Alexandra Park in Moss Side.  On the way in Paula and I were searched by police.  They had a large pile of confiscated beer and vodka; taken from honest people wanting a little drink in the summer heat.  Presumably anyone dishonest who wants to take in booze can just jump over the fence.  Everyone else has to pay £2.50 for a can of Red Stripe.  So why were the police confiscating booze?  Obviously not to stop people drinking in the park as it is available to buy in there.  Should the police be involved in protecting an over-priced monopoly?

Anyway I didn’t have any booze on me; I was there for the food.  We meet up with our friends pushing their baby boy in his pram.  The carnival is Caribbean themed which means jerk chicken and competing sound-systems.  One field has a sound-system at either end; the other field has a stage.  Nowhere is any of the music discernable from a pneumatic pulse.  All of the systems have the bass cranked too full and the treble and mid dropped completely.  It is a fucking terrible racket.  Horrible shit.  I can’t comment on the quality of the music cos I couldn’t fucking hear it.  I still don’t know what Soca music sounds like.  Music coming from the main stage seemed to mainly be young men trying to rap.  A disappointing lack of any of the sights and sounds I would expect under the banner of Carnival.  Evidently I missed the parade.

Racket aside, my taste-buds still functioned.  We started with jerk chicken and rice, followed by curried goat, fried plantains and peas and rice.  Then after a search we found saltfish and ackee with Jamaican dumplings and more rice.  I grabbed a couple of Red Stripe, but pathetically drank alone as Ralph is using Ramadan as a good excuse to temporarily get on the wagon.  The jerk chicken was amazing; crispy tasty skin... the goat was so tender, dripping in juicy, spicy fat.  Both were suck-the-bone-clean delicious.  Banana is top of my very short list of disgusting inedible muck, but the fried plantains were the best I’ve ever had.  The saltfish and ackee was disappointing; too sloppy with not enough fish, and the portion was tiny and overpriced.  It’s my speciality, and I know how to make it damn good.  You should definitely try it (great recipe here).  Ackee fruit is a bit like a lychee, but used as a vegetable.  It looks a bit like scrambled egg, but tastes like butter.

The highlight of the afternoon was a little boy running up behind Paula and grabbing her arse.  His mum looked embarrassed but we all watched him running around looking for his next victim.  Unfortunately his mum was able to restrain him from notching up any more.  The lowlight was the fairground rides blasting out I Believe in Miracles and random other generic end-of-the-pier pop, clearly not getting into the Caribbean spirit.  Everyone was relaxed and having fun and the sun graced us.  Looking forward to next year.

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