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2nd Lockdown – Day Fifteen – In Praise of Breadfruit

24.03.2021

As the days to the lockdown’s theoretical end grew closer, and the daily Covid figures were not reassuring, we could have guessed Pravind Jugnauth would be extending the lockdown for at least a week. 


But the figures, while not being reassuring, are also not alarming. So, all we need is to keep calm and stay sheltered as much as possible. And, say, share recipes. And perhaps add some good humour. And maybe even think up ways of acting that will keep our Mauritian petty-bourgeois class, as a class, from running amok later when the lockdown ends – by helping with a bit of rationality here and there.


The rich Mauritian experience in contact-tracing makes “containment” of Covid possible, compared to other countries where people don’t even know what contact-tracing is. Some people even thought you could get an App to do it. Anyway, most of the new cases appear to be being identified through contact-tracing. I have to say “appear to be” and not “are” because we are being given statistics that are not disaggregated enough. The Ministry all too often puts together two things in one column: both cases found through contact tracing, and cases picked up in the Flu Clinics (otherwise known as Covid Testing Centres, just to confuse us). We formally appeal, through this blog, to the Health Minister to provide these two statistics separately from now on. 


If only the new Leader of the Opposition, Xavier Duval, had used his PNQ to request something useful like that yesterday when Parliament started up again. Rajni, for LALIT, had already asked pertinent Extra-Parliamentary Questions of three Ministers on issues mainly concerning the economy (see yesterdays’ post). We inform MPs that there are no copyright on our suggestions for PQs and PNQs.


The Opposition Leader, however, spent the first half of his time saying the Government was being “catastrophic” in exposing the public to a vaccine not yet authorized by the WHO (and thereby scoring some political point against Health Minister Jagutpal) and the other half of his time complaining that the Government was responsible for neglect of old-age pensioners and people with pre-existing conditions like diabetes by delaying their vaccination until after those of healthy people with Work Access Permits. He thinks pensioners & Co ought to be vaccinated immediately. He joked that he had had to slip a Xanax before facing the “Loud Speaker” so as to keep his calm, so maybe that is how he could not get the first and second half of his PNQ to stop contradicting each other. Or maybe he is a fore-runner of the petty-bourgeoisie, the leader of this class as well as of the Opposition, and is thus already running amok solo from even before the end of the lockdown.


But, whatever the case, containment of Covid will not be possible, even with all the best contact-tracing in the world, unless if, at the same time, we do not also keep up enough social distancing, mask-wearing and hands-washing. And then this will protect us until the effect of the vaccination campaign kicks in later in the year, as we near the 60% mark. And that may only be in August.


So, we need to pace ourselves. This is easier for some than for others. So, I praise what I can see out of my window as I type. The method works for a while.


I praise the breadfruit tree. 


Its trunk is solid, no nonsense. Its leaves are immense and dark green, before in turn each turning bright yellow, then mustard, then falling to the ground, to be swept up by me into the bin for the rubbish men and women to collect. They would soon otherwise overwhelm our five huge compost bins. And the fruit is huge and glorious, as I’ve already described, with all the little bright green hexagons with unequal length sides interlocking so cleverly. And here is a recipe to the glory of the food. We cooked it yesterday. If you can’t get hold of breadfruit, you can use potato instead. Or green banana. Or violet. 


You cut into slices, peel and boil the breadfruit. It’s quite quick. Test with a sharp knife. As soon as it softens, it’s OK to eat and you can remove 3/4 if it’s a big one, and freeze them in three freezer bags for later use. But for this recipe, let it boil for another 5 minutes. Remove from the water and smash it up with a fork on a plate. Add finely diced onions, a couple of cloves of garlic crushed, salt and pepper, some chili powder, a beaten egg yolk, lots of parsley chopped fine. Then make little flat discs of the mixture in your hand, run each one through the egg white slightly beaten, then through some ground rice and fry in a saucepan in a tiny bit of butter or oil. (You can add a bit of tuna OR a few tablespoons of grated cheddar cheese (preferably not processed Cheddar like Kraft, because it goes a bit funny when cooked). Serve with rogay – home-made tomato sauce with some spices – and mushy-peas (over-cooked peas, crushed with a fork together with loads of mint) and an avocado salad.


Yesterday, Ram beat up two egg-yolks for some home-made mayonnaise, as well. It turned out quite the best in the world. We also smashed up a perfect avocado from the front garden and added the mayonnaise to it for the avocado salad. 


And, since Ram had used two egg-yolks, this left two egg-whites over. So, I whipped them up with sugar into a dozen meringue-shaped things and put them into the oven. They looked excellent. But, they were perhaps the worst meringues in the world. They stayed sticky however much I baked them another 10 minutes, then another 10 minutes, then yet another 10 minutes. I have been known, in the past, to make quite good ones, so who knows what I did different. Anyway, served with cream, they were, though not meringues exactly, a fine dessert. Only, it took a while to extract the sticky-sugar off our teeth afterwards.


You will have noticed that the recipes mentioned all involved some fairly violent actions – verbs like smashing up, crushing, beating, even whipping. This removes excess aggression and suppressed frustration that might build up in the lockdown. Perhaps cooking would be a good recipe for the petty-bourgeoisie, as a class, to prevent its running amok later, like it did last time round when restrictions were lifted. 


Lindsey Collen