By Safiya Young

It was a couple of weeks ago that I noticed the splash of brightness that had emerged in Wellington square. While my walk through is usually brisk, due to the fetid aroma of fast food that so often plagues my nose, the desire to further investigate Carib de L’Afrique became quickly lodged in my mind. I discovered that the quiet atmosphere and apposite music of this fervent family business make it a great place to have lunch with a friend.

My expectations were soon met and surpassed with a refreshing juice drink, which was exactly what I needed in the smothering inflation of humidity we branded as a heat wave. This was not your average, sugar-bound, artificial flavoured supermarket juice, each drop was hand-squeezed, hand-blended and hand-stirred; and I was very glad they left the zest and fibre intact to let it fulfil its ultimate natural health potential. No scraping, blitzing or intensive sieving occurred in the making of this beverage, it was thick and fresh, the only problem being the slurping of my straw as I finished. Available was every fruit I could think of, though my indecisiveness was not an issue, as the staff promptly compromised with a mixture of everything. The result was bold and pink and delightful.

Since everything is home-made from scratch, it was very easy for me to order food specifically tailored to my hopes and wishes. We had a roti (flat bread), with efo riro (spinach stew) and chana (chickpeas) and, like dedicated British citizens, started to whittle off dainty micro-nibbles with a knife and fork. We were about a forkful in when the co-owner expressed “if you really want to enjoy that, pick it up and bite it”. Her advice could not have been more appropriate, and we chewed away, fuelled by the sublime taste and childish glee of holding food in our hands. Each flavour came into its own, accentuated by a dash of spice, just enough to compliment but not overpower. Gone were the days when we rocked up to the nearest fast food joint, to gradually destroy our bodies with swelled-up, grease-disguised food. Now, despite ditching the sophistication of cutlery, we happily munched through the flavoursome escapade of ‘quality over profit’ Caribbean food.

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