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Watch: Why you should eat eggplant during COVID-19

How many of us remember our first time?

I do.

It was at the NYC eatery, Sbarro’s (don’t judge me).

That day I did it Italian style, hot and steamy.

Since then I’ve done it in a few places including once in Rome, Italy and a bunch of times in Kumasi, Ghana.

The first time I ate eggplant I was surprised to see how a slice of this spongy vegetable could replace a chicken cutlet in the popular chicken parmigiana.

I’ve always looked at food differently as a chef. While my peers aspired to rule supreme in five-star restaurants around the world, I’ve been driven to use food to empower and sustain communities and I look for similarities and differences in the way various cultures interact with food.

This means remembering virgin culinary eggplant encounters in NYC and connecting them years later in West Africa when I was fed a delicious soup made with what Ghanaians call garden eggs.

So it came as no surprise then, that the abundance of eggplant in the Caribbean and in Jamaica, in particular, would represent an opportunity to bridge our fresh local produce with an international flair that could be accessible by all, regardless of status.

The coronavirus pandemic has resulted in the disruption of food supply chains around the world. The sudden availability of foods such as eggplant could be the beginning of a food renaissance and shift in mindset to eat what we grow and grow what we eat.

Further, the chlorogenic acid in eggplants supports immunity through its antimicrobial and antiviral activities, which is very important in building resistance to viruses such as COVID-19 and for general health. Eggplants also help to suppress many of the risk factors for viruses, such as COVID-19. Eggplants contain antioxidants, have anti-inflammatory properties, provide cardiovascular benefits, improve digestion, help to control blood pressure, maintain a healthy weight and promote mental health. Eggplants are also excellent for skin and bone health.

“Di only egg mi know a di one wey mi crack and fry an nyam wid bread”.

Jamaicans are famous for having a rigid outlook when it comes to putting things we are not familiar with on the plate; I know this because I am one of those Jamaicans. However, if there is a food revolution brewing, the Caribbean should be at the forefront. Evolving, trendsetting, creating and inventing is what we do.

I get it, that rich purple colour and abnormal shape, make the eggplant mysterious and maybe even foreign. But as someone who raids international kitchens wearing my Jamaican flag, take my word for it, “Wha nuh kill yuh fatten yuh…..and sometime it delicious.”

Here are two ways that you can enjoy eggplant

Eggplant pizza

1 large eggplant
1 tsp. olive oil
1/2 to 1 cup tomato sauce 
3/4 cup mozzarella or cheddar 
1/4 parsley

Method
1. Pre-heat oven
2. Wash and slice eggplant in 1/2 inch thick rounds.
3. Grease baking tray with olive oil, place eggplant slices on baking tray, place 3 tsp of tomato sauce on each side. Place in oven for 7 to 10 minutes or until tomato sauce is absorbed into the eggplant.
4. Remove baking tray from oven, for each slice sprinkle cheese on top and parsley, place in oven for another 5 to 7 minutes or until cheese melted. Serve immediately

Eggplant and Saltfish  w/ mashed cassava 

1 whole eggplant
2 tomatoes thinly sliced 
1 small onion thinly sliced 
1/4 cup  sliced coloured sweet peppers 
1 cup minced salt fish 
1 tsp Pepper 
Garlic 3 gloves sliced
3 tablespoon olive oil 

Method
1. Wash and slice eggplant in rounds, then cut rounds into quarters. 
2. Place skillet on medium heat, add olive to heated pan , when heated add slice onion, tomatoes, sweet peppers and garlic, until soft and onions are translucent.
3. Add eggplant to pan stir, allow to cook for 7 minutes. Stir occasionally to avoid sticking.
4. Add salt fish to pan stir and allow to cook for 3 minutes. 
5. Remove from flame and turn off.

Cassava mash 
1lb cassava 
1/4 cup diced coloured sweet peppers 
1/4 cup butter
1 tsp salt
2 tsp black or white pepper 

Method
1. Peel, slice and wash cassava. 
2. Place slice cassava in pot with salt and water and place to cook. Cook for 10 to 15 minutes or until tender.
3. Remove from pot and mash with butter until smooth add sweet peppers mix together and serve.

Tomato sauce
6 plummy tomato
2 small onions
4 cloves garlic
3 sprig thyme
1tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1 tsp vinegar 
1 stalk escallion 
1tsp olive oil

Method
1. Wash all ingredients. 
2. Diced tomatoes, onions, escallion and garlic and set aside.
3.  Place sauce pot on stove add tsp of olive oil, add 3 sprig of thyme and allow the flavour to develop, remove thyme from oil when brown.
4. Add dice tomato, onion, garlic, escallion and allow to simmer. Add salt, pepper and vinegar mix and allow to simmer.

Cook time 35 min.

Source: https://www.loopjamaica.com/content/watch-why-you-should-eat-eggplant-during-covid-19-1

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Phased reopening of business begins in some Caribbean countries

Even though the number of reported COVID-19 cases in the Caribbean is rising, some islands which have not registered a new case in days have begun to relax restrictions.

Barbados, Belize, Antigua and Barbuda and the US Virgin Islands have all begun a phased reopening of businesses.

With only three confirmed cases of COVID-19 to date and no current active cases in Anguilla, restrictions were lifted on April 29.

As of that date, churches, places of worship, all retail stores, hair salons and barber shops, accommodation suppliers, gyms and spas, recreational facilities, official lotteries, restaurants and bars can reopen. 

In Belize, all government departments and all statutory bodies will reopen on Monday, May 4.

Lawyers, accountants, real estate brokers and professional service providers are now on the approved list as well as local manufacturers such as carpenters, building contractors, plumbers, electricians.

Prime Minister Dead Barrow said wholesalers and retailers generally are being freed up, and even call centers can reopen, particularly for training purposes.

“Belize call center services are increasingly in demand as a result of the pandemic, and the centers can take on well over a thousand new hires if training is allowed. Very, very significant for the economy,” he said.

Hotels in Belize can also now reopen to cater to a Belizean clientele. Their restaurants will be limited, though, to providing room service and take-out meals.

“As a result of all this, the general restriction on movement is being lifted to the extent that it will now permit the public to attend at the various government and private businesses for such services as they require, in addition to the purchase of supplies and essential needs. And in one more concession, beauty salons and barbershops can also resume operations, although, only by appointment basis, dealing with one customer at a time. Spas, I am afraid, will still have to remain closed,” Barrow said.

He warned that fines for failure to adhere to physical distancing and other rules are being increased.

Belize has gone 18 days without recording any new positive cases and has 18 recorded cases to date with only three active.

A new, or extended, state of emergency went into effect from May 1.

In an address to the nation on April 29, Barbados’ Prime Minister Mia Mottley announced that from Monday, May 4, the mandatory 24-hour lockdown that began on April 3 will end and there will be phased reopening of government and business operations including beauty supply stores, landscapers, manufacturers, pet services and supplies, educational suppliers and tradesmen. There will also be limited reopening of beaches from 6 am to 9 am daily.

The sale of alcohol will be allowed but there is to be no consumption in public.

Mottley laid out the protocols under which businesses are being allowed to open.

She said anyone with symptoms resembling those of COVID-19 and belongs to a vulnerable group to stay home. She urged all those who are going out in public to wear a mask and for those who are travelling to do so alone in their own vehicles.

Buses are limited to 60 percent capacity with only one person allowed in a row.

Among the other requirements for businesses are temperature checks to be conducted twice-daily on all large worksites, regular handwashing by all employees and staggered work hours as far as possible. Workers are encouraged to walk with their own meals and sit six feet apart while eating.

Barbados has recorded 81 cases of COVID-19 to date with 35 current active cases.

The US Virgin Islands will also relax restrictions on some businesses on May 4 when the country implements the yellow phase of its tiered systems.

Under this phase, recreation facilities, such as gyms, tennis courts and golf courses may reopen as long as they maintain social distancing. Bowling alleys and movie theatres may also reopen if they practice social distancing, but they may not sell food and drink or host parties.

Private offices may reopen, but all employees not critical to in-person services should be encouraged to work from home. Private health care facilities may resume procedures if they follow required safety protocols

Personal services, such as barbers, massage therapists and hair salons, may operate by appointment only and must employ strict hygiene guidelines and frequent sanitisation procedure for all contact services and tools, including hand sanitiser for patrons and face masks for the entire time as possible

For personal services businesses, no more than five customers will be allowed to wait at any given time and no more than 10 people, including employees, allowed in the establishment at a time. Retail stores may not allow more than 10 individuals into the establishment at any time.

Restaurants continue to be restricted to take-out, delivery or drive-thru service and bars remain closed.

Churches may conduct services providing they don’t exceed a capacity of 50 individuals and all, including the pastor, wear face masks.

All patrons are required to wear a face mask when entering a business.

With 24 confirmed cases of COVID-19 to date and 10 current active cases, Antigua and Barbuda’s Cabinet has begun to reopen businesses in the country.

All retail business could ply their trade between 6 am and 6pm but beauty salons, barbershops, spas, bars and night club remain are to remain closed for the time being.

Effective Tuesday, May 5, the beaches will be opened during weekdays to the public for health and wellness purposes. The beaches will remain closed on Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays to avoid crowding.

Public gatherings including, beach entertainment are strictly prohibited therefore, no food, alcohol and music will be allowed on the beach.

The 12-hour curfew and all health protocols, including physical distancing, mandatory wearing of masks remain in place.

Source: https://www.loopjamaica.com

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Coronavirus cases in the Caribbean to date: 13,907

Confirmed Caribbean coronavirus cases as of today, May 5: 

  • Dominican Republic- 8235 cases, 346 deaths, 1771 recovered 
  • Puerto Rico- 1924 cases (positive only patients), 99 deaths  
  • Cuba- 1668 cases, 69 deaths, 876 recovered  
  • Jamaica- 471 cases, 9 deaths, 49 recovered  
  • Martinique-181 cases, 14 deaths, 83 recovered 
  • Guadeloupe-152 cases, 12 deaths, 98 recovered 
  • French Guiana- 133 cases, 1 death, 105 recovered  
  • Trinidad and Tobago- 116 cases, 8 deaths, 102 recovered 
  • Bermuda- 115 cases, 7 deaths, 54 recovered  
  • Aruba- 100 cases, 2 deaths, 81 recovered  
  • Haiti- 100 cases, 11 deaths, 10 recovered  
  • Guyana- 92 cases, 9 deaths, 27 recovered  
  • Bahamas- 83 cases, 11 deaths, 25 recovered  
  • Barbados- 82 cases, 7 deaths, 46 recovered 
  • Sint Maarten- 76 cases, 14 deaths, 44 recovered  
  • Cayman Islands- 75 cases, 1 death, 14 recovered  
  • US Virgin Islands- 66 cases, 4 deaths, 51 recovered 
  • Saint Martin- 38 cases, 3 deaths, 29 recovered  
  • Antigua and Barbuda- 25 cases, 3 deaths, 15 recovered 
  • Grenada- 21 cases, 13 recovered   
  • Belize- 18 cases, 2 deaths, 14 recovered  
  • Saint Lucia- 18 cases, 15 recovered  
  • St Vincent and the Grenadines- 17 cases, 9 recovered  
  • Curacao-16 cases, 1 death, 13 recovered  
  • Dominica- 16 cases, 14 recovered  
  • Saint Kitts and Nevis- 15 cases, 8 recovered 
  • Turks and Caicos- 12 cases, 1 death, 6 recovered   
  • Montserrat- 11 cases, 1 death, 7 recovered  
  • Suriname – 10 cases, 1 death, 9 recovered 
  • Saint Barthelemy-6 cases, 6 recovered 
  • British Virgin Islands- 6 cases, 1 death, 3 recovered  
  • Anguilla- 3 cases, 3 recovered 
  • Sint Eustatius- 2 cases, 1 recovered  
  • Bonaire- 2 cases, 2 recovered  
  • Saba- 2 cases  

Source:https://www.loopjamaica.com

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Carnival Cruise says it will resume Caribbean trips in summer

Carnival Cruise Line announced Monday it will start cruising again, from Florida and Texas, beginning in August. These Caribbean trips will be the company’s first new itineraries since the coronavirus pandemic forced a near-total pause in the global cruise industry.

The ports of Miami, Cape Canaveral and Galveston, Texas were selected because they are accessible by car for the majority of the guests, the company said in a statement. The eight ships named by the company have itineraries showing stops in the Bahamas, the Cayman Islands, Jamaica and Mexico, among other places.

Carnival Cruise Line said ships will not be cruising from Alaska, Hawaii and Australia through August 31.

The US State Department began warning against cruise travel on March 8, and the CDC issued a no-sail order on March 14, which was extended and set to expire on July 24. The order prompted several countries to reject cruise ships suspected of carrying infected passengers and crew members, stranding some ships at sea for weeks.

Many cruise ships had outbreaks at sea, with some passengers and crew members dying on board or after disembarking from international trips.

Source: https://www.loopjamaica.com