Story and photos by Lara Pickford-Gordon
Pigeon peas fudge? It might not sound appealing but after trying a piece of Exotic Love Bites gourmet pigeon peas chocolate fudge, I was prompted to buy a pack containing a vanilla, passion fruit and ponche de crème flavours.
Creator of the fudge, Sherry Stephen from Claxton Bay was among the vendors at the Upper Cemetery Street Residents’ Association eighth annual Pigeon Peas Festival at the St John’s Parish Hall, Church Street, Diego Martin April 2–3. Interviewed on April 2, Stephen said she came up with a good pigeon peas fudge recipe on her first try. That might sound surprising, but she has been making fudge since she was 12 years.
Explaining the recipe, she said a pound of pigeon peas was used to create the four flavours. “So, you boil it, and you puree it and then add it to each different flavour batches.”
Myrtle Joseph, the Chair of the Association said there was a steady flow of visitors. Items on sale included: pigeon peas in bread, sweetbread, kurma, dumpling, roti. Pigeon peas flour was available, and food: pigeon peas doubles, pigeon peas bake and shark; rice, pigeon peas and curry shark and pelau. There were about 15 participants in the “mini festival” including craft sellers.
Joseph said a mini festival was held last year during the Carnival season and 2020, so it was not impacted by Covid. Recapping the aim of the festival, she said, “We [are] promoting pigeon peas but we are also carrying on a legacy that has been known in Diego Martin: the planting of the pigeon peas. And we also see it as a way to generate income and get the young people back to the land to begin planting again.”
The festival was extended to two days this year in response to feedback from members of the public.
Debbie Andrews from Fyzabad was selling kurma made with pigeon peas, cassava, and ginger. She also had chip chip, “long time chilli bibbi”.
Ayanna Joseph said her in-laws are on the residents’ committee. Her mother-in-law Florence Warrick Joseph ‘Flo Jo’ has created many things with pigeon peas: doubles, pholourie, ice cream, wine, bread.
“I jump on board, and I did pizza and lasagne and burgers. We became more innovative over the years. Other vendors jump on board, so you have pastelles and alcoholic mixed drinks out of peas.” To create her pizza the pigeon peas was incorporated into the dough and into the sauce to base the pizza before placing the toppings.
Jacqueline Walker, from Bagatelle, Diego Martin, was with her grandson Jonathan, selling pigeon peas pholourie, pastelle and paime. It was her third year participating and she said, “I love it!”.
I came away from the Pigeon Peas Festival with kurma, fudge, lots of pholourie and a pigeon peas plant, which was complimentary for attendees.
As for the famous pigeon peas ice cream, I was out of luck. It sold out at 1 p.m. as they had catered for just 100 people.
Next time, I must also try something from the pigeon peas cocktail bar.