Venison Vindoo – Mauritian Style

Can you imagine a wedding in a place as lovely as this?

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I’ve asked my friend, writer Pooben Narayanen, to tell us how the locals do it.

Venison Vindoo, Mauritian Style

No matter how small or how big, weddings require a lot of work. In Mauritius you almost need to recruit an army of people to help out. When my cousin got married in 2001, wow! Did we have our hands full.

My family in Mauritius is of Tamil ancestry. We tried to keep some of the old country culture, particularly for weddings, although I am told that things are done differently back there.

Aside from the wedding itself there are two important functions: the wedding eve dinner and the vindoo lunch, a post-wedding reception. The vindoo lunch is hosted by each wedding side separately. It is considered bad luck to do it together.

In the days before the wedding, no alcohol or meat is to be served. After the wedding at the vindoo it’s no holds barred and the majority of Tamil-Mauritian families will butcher a goat. They make the most delicious curries you can think of.

Our curries are not as peppery as you would find in South India. We place emphasis on the blending of spices and tenderness of the meat. Chilli hot is not our style. Besides chilli hot does not help in 30+ degrees, when you’re wearing your best sari, dress or suit, and also enjoying a cocktail or whiskey.

On my mom’s side we don’t do goat for the vindoo; we do deer. My granddad was a game warden and supposedly one of the best shots of his time. So my mom and her family all grew up on venison. And when they got married somebody would just go out and bag a deer. So that’s what was on the menu.

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The in-laws' side of the family pay the bride to eat.  Same on the other side of the family where they pay the groom to eat. (Like wedding presents)

The in-laws’ side of the family pay the bride to eat. Same on the other side of the family where they pay the groom to eat. (Like wedding presents)

My uncles got a good deal from one of the game reserves, and the bride’s side wanted to serve deer for their vindoo, too. We were told that they would be bringing in two freshly killed deer on the eve of the wedding. We had been busy preparing the house and marquis for the wedding eve dinner and now we also had to  cut and quarter two deer. One of my uncles managed to get his hands on a huge fridge to store the carcasses. The butchering was to take place after dinner.

As we were setting up decorations that afternoon, when I heard a car horn. Someone yelled that the deer had arrived. One of my eldest cousins sat grinning behind the wheel of a really old rented car. “Where’s the truck with the deer?” I asked.

He just smiled. “We managed to fit both carcasses in the boot of the car.” He popped open the trunk. “Two does, freshly killed this morning.”

They had been gutted, but not skinned. He had placed banana leaves underneath and on top to keep them clean. Whose job was it to carry them to the fridge? That was mine, my brother’s and two other cousins’. The cousin who had brought the deer wasn’t getting his hands dirty!

Now the front of the house was covered by a huge marquis with the tables and decorations set up. My aunt was not going to allow us to bring the carcasses through the front door. This meant going through the neighbour’s yard and carrying them over a wall.

My brother and one cousin and I got the carcasses out of the trunk and over the wall. The other cousin had disappeared. Thankfully we were able to hold onto the deer by the legs. Mind you, it was not that easy to keep them clean. Everyone gave us instructions, but nobody wanted to help!

As we placed the deer in the fridge my brother noticed powder burns from a gunshot on one of the deer’s hind quarters. We spread a rumour that when my cousin had to pick up the deer, they had shot the first one and he was given the honour of shooting the second one which was tied up. He was such a lousy shot that he hit it in the ass!

Our worries were not over yet. These deer had to be quartered and butchered. After the wedding eve dinner, after the dancing, when everyone had bedded down or gone home, it was time to get to work. The garage became a temporary butcher shop. It was one a.m. by then, but it had to be done as we were having our vindoo right after the wedding the next day.

One of my uncles had set up a hook and hoisted one carcass. He had been out hunting a few times so he knew what to do. We first had to skin the deer. I was okay with cutting the meat but I left the skinning part to my uncle, the outdoorsman. My cousin decided that if his dad could do it so could he, and the older guys decided to give him a go. He was pretty good, but then he got too cocky. They kept telling him to slow down, but he wasn’t listening. He kept going on and on that he was going to get it done in no time. Then the knife slipped. Oh man! He had sliced his finger pretty bad. Thankfully, it didn’t require stitches.

“We’d better find that part of the finger,” my uncle said, “or someone might end up eating it.”

When my cousin slipped away, we were all complaining that he had bailed. But nope, he come back with a pan, oil, onions, pepper, salt, small green chillies, some cola and a bottle of rum. He found two big bricks and some wood and got a fire going. He set the pan on the fire. While it warmed up he made each of us a rum and coke.

He chose a piece of filet and chopped it into small pieces, spicing it with salt and pepper. Once the pan was hot he added the oil and fried the onions and chillies before adding the meat. Man! It was perfect.

It had started drizzling and the temperature had dropped so the venison snack was just what the doctor ordered. My cousin and I wanted more. We even went to scrounge some bread, but my uncle was having none of it, reminding us that it was for the guests. It was an excellent night and we finished at around 4 a.m. We had to be up by 6:30 that morning for the wedding.

For the vindoo, everyone complimented us for our cutting and butchering skills, although my aunt, who was in charge of the cooking, complained that a filet was missing. My uncle told her that it was a skinny deer, but she didn’t buy it.

***

I’d say Pooben and his family did well to tear themselves away from the beach to do all that work for the wedding. Just look at what he was missing!

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About Pooben Narayanen

Pooben [1]

Pooben Narayanen grew up in Mauritius, the United Kingdom, and Canada. He holds two bachelor degrees from McMaster University, Canada and a Master’s degree from Sydney University, Australia.

He lives in Mauritius with his wife and two children. The Mount Hope Explorers Club and the Great White is his first book.

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You can find “The Mount Hope Explorers Club and the Great White” on amazon.com

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A Visit Down Under

My guest today is British writer Miriam Wakerly. She has just returned from a trip to Australia and will share some of her experiences with us.

Miriam Wakerly

Miriam Wakerly

Before Christmas my husband and I went Down Under on a fast-paced holiday. There are a couple of posts around about the places we visited  (links), but I thought for a change people might like to hear about a special day we spent in Alice Springs close to Uluru or Ayers Rock, the sun-scorched Red Centre of the Australian desert.

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This was what some might accurately call an “educational” trip, but I was among many who enjoyed this particular aspect of our tour just as much as some of the truly sensational, spectacular events laid on for us – maybe even more.

The theme of what we saw was very much to do with communication in the arid outback, where people are remote both from each other and the mainly coastal towns and cities of Australia. How do people keep in touch with the rest of the country – especially before the days of the Internet? How can children get any education or interaction with their peers? What if someone falls seriously ill?

Why did this town “spring” up in the first place?  The Arrernte Aboriginal people have made their home in this area of the desert for more than 50,000 years; its Aboriginal name is Mparntwe. The River Todd that flows through Alice Springs is usually dry – certainly there was no sign of water when we saw it, although we were told that when it flows – it flows!

It was not until 1861 that “white man” arrived in the form of John McDouall Stuart, a Scottish explorer, who led an expedition through Central Australia to the west of what later became Alice Springs. A route was then enabled from Adelaide in the south to Darwin in the north. About ten years later an Overland Telegraph Line (OTL) surveyor, William Mills, discovered a waterhole and named it Alice Springs after the wife of Charles Todd, the Superintendent of Telegraphs for South Australia, and a repeater station was set up. As our Visitors’ History Guide tells us, “the line suddenly reduced the isolation of Australians from the rest of the world.”

We were able to wander around the station buildings and learned more about the people who lived there, the role they played, lives they led, and how they relayed and received messages by Morse code. Little touches brought it to life: “The Station Master’s kitchen was originally divided in two. To your right was a children’s bedroom and sewing room where the Station Master’s wife made clothes for Aborigines who worked at the Station.”

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A humble building belies its importance. Lively painting at the entrance.

The School of the Air was even more fascinating, if that is possible. Providing distance learning of the highest standard, following the national curriculum, it likes to be described as the “largest classroom in the world”; an average of 120 children over an area 10 times the size of England! Teachers visit their pupils just once a year! In their Fact Sheet, they state, “Our students reside on cattle stations, aboriginal communities, tourist facilities, national parks and military bases ….” It is good to know that extra support is now given to indigenous children whose English may not be fluent.

Watching the teacher “on air” with her pupil.

Watching the teacher “on air” with her pupil.

Our tour showed us how this was done and … well, you’ll just have to go there. It’s an amazing concept, expertly executed, that’s all I can say. The experience left me filled with admiration. http://www.assoa.nt.edu.au/_SNAPSHOT/snapshot.html

Lastly the Flying Doctor, probably best known from the once popular TV series, more formally known as Royal Flying Doctor Service of Australia where we saw a presentation, display, and film about the fantastic service this provides – again, to isolated people. It operates 24/7 from 21 bases and relies on donations for most of its funding. Some of the case studies we were told about really did bring a tear or two to my eyes; the work they do is truly “uplifting” in every sense of the word!

Yes, we saw Uluru at sunrise and we got up close and personal, yet if I am honest I was even more impressed with these three wonderful examples of human endeavour and achievement. In the afternoon we went walkabout in the baking sun, just long enough to make us realise how the early pale-skinned pioneers must’ve struggled to bear the heat.

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You can read more about this and other sights in my blog, Miriam’s Ramblings  and on the LoveaHappyEnding Lifestyle magazine. Thank you so much, Anneli, for letting me drop by to share with your fans this memorable morning in Alice Springs!

I am fascinated by different sorts of people and how we all live and interact with each other. I was particularly interested in anything I could find out about the indigenous Aboriginal peoples and I may write more on that topic at some future date.

You may like to take a look at my village novels – the first two, Gypsies Stop tHere and No Gypsies Served, touch on the fraught relationship that can exist between Gypsies and non-Gypsies. The third one, Shades of Appley Green, explores how we relate to elderly folk in our communities. Take a look at the many 5* reviews on Amazon – on the whole, people seem to have enjoyed reading them!

My books on Amazon    http://ow.ly/sNp9F

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Loveahappyending Lifestyle Magazine

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A team of writers of diverse backgrounds and interests has collaborated, under the leadership of Linn B. Halton, to put together a quarterly online magazine that will appeal to many with a wide range of topics.

If you are looking for a movie review, a cooking recipe, outdoor articles, humour, or advice for your personal problems, you’ll find it all in the Loveahappyending Lifestyle Magazine. And it’s all for FREE.

Simply click on the link and you’ll have it.

http://issuu.com/llmlifestyle/docs/issue_3?e=8377918%2F6408538

Here’s a sneak peek at the Table of Contents:

5. An interview with Downton Abbey’s food stylist – Lisa Heathcote
9. Pairing red wines and vegetarian food
11. An interview with celebrity chef, Martin Blunos
15. Screen vs. stage – Les Miserables
16. Website hijack – who do you call?
17. Nice La Belle
21. Exhausted parent’s playbook
24. Meet artist Elizabeth Cassidy
29. A love affair with Corfu
32. X-rated satire with Adam’s rib
35. Janice Horton’s Bookshelf Reviews
40. Land Ahoy!
43. When first love goes awry … relationship advice with Bonnie Trachtenberg
44. Romantic fiction writing course in Italy
47. Home project – mirror magic
51. News from the book world
53. Fall/winter fashion
57. Feeding fish in paradise
60. Vancouver Island – seasonal visitors
64. Building those skills – children and education
68. A tower for two
72. Tandemocracy – climb every mountain …
76. Meet the team

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McReady – by Lorne Finlayson

Finn

You will remember Finn from previous posts. All grown up from his prairie town adventures, Finn’s fascination with the local characters who clashed with the “milk and cookies” lifestyle of this young farmboy, has inspired him to write about some of these rough guys. Here is a snippet from his work in progress, about the seedy sod, McReady. You must understand that once in a while the language slips up. We can’t expect a character like McReady  to use words like “Oops-a-daisy” when the F word is more on the mark. I apologize in advance on behalf of McReady, the lout!

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Excerpt:

Jesus, my head was pounding. I just had to get out of bed and get a drink of water and some aspirin or something. Maybe a shot of gin would do it. Oh, I hate Saturday mornings. I always have a hangover. Before I rolled out I looked over at the other side of the bed. No one there. Damn. Struck out again. And she was so friendly in the bar, too.

I got my feet on the floor and heaved myself upright. Major accomplishment. No clean shirt, but yesterday’s was all right, so I put it on, pulled on my pants and jacket and fumbled around for my shoes. There were socks in them. I gave them the sniff test. They weren’t too ripe so I put them back on again, stuffed my wallet into my pocket, and jammed a brown hat onto my throbbing head. “Off to the coffee shop, Pal,” I ordered myself.

The landlady was already up. I could hear her scuffling around upstairs. Then, all went quiet and I knew she was listening to see if I was home so she could come down and bug my sorry butt about the overdue rent. Christ, I’m only a couple of weeks late, not like it’s any big deal. The old bag needs to get laid, that’s what I think. I stopped and considered the possibility, but, no, not now. A man had to have some standards and porking a 200-pound granny is a bit much, even for me. So, I planned my getaway. First, I rattled my back door lock, like I’m undoing it and getting ready to leave. Then, I stood real quiet and listened. I knew she heard me, and I heard her open her back door and head down the stairs to cut me off. So, I scooted out the front door and I was on my way, quick as Bob’s your uncle. Hardy har har. We’d played this game for years and I always won.

The sky was all grey, low clouds and the sun was up there but I couldn’t quite tell where. A cold breeze was swirling down the street, picking up the chocolate bar wrappers, cigarette packages and pieces of yesterday’s local newsrag and piling them all together in heaps along the curb between the parked cars. I could feel sand and some farmer’s topsoil gritting under my shoes. Normal morning in a prairie town. Just needed a few tumbleweeds and a couple of six guns and we could shoot a western. I figured as soon as I could get a stake together I was getting the hell out of here. Take the bus to the Coast. Some of my pals told me there’s good pickings in Prince George.

The Do-Drop-Inn was a greaseball joint with a half dozen or so round tables, a counter and a surly Yugoslav to run it. The door squealed as I walked in, asshole being too cheap to oil the fucking thing. His coffee was obscene, but it did the job on a dead body like mine. So, I poured one and looked around.

Over in the corner this other rounder, Moose, was having a greasy breakfast of ham, eggs and some slimy mush that resembled hash browns. He was sitting real close to his daughter Allie, a delightful little thing that he was trying to protect from us horse players and card sharks. I walked over and sat down and he looked up, a bit of egg on his porky chin. The sweetie looked up at me shyly and smiled, but said nothing and went back to her toast and jam.

“Christ, Moose,” I said, “kid can’t make out on toast and jam. Feed her some real food.”

That got his attention and he growled, “Hey, watch your mouth.”

Allie just giggled.

*****

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Have you met any “seedy sod” characters? I’m sure they’re all around us but they seem to stand out more in the healthy prairie environment. They make wonderful resource material for writers.

Meet Carol Balawyder

My guest today is Canadian writer, Carol Balawyder. Welcome Carol. Please share some of your writing with us.

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I am first and foremost a writer of fiction: Crime (because of my background as a criminologist) and women’s fiction (because, well, I’m a woman).

But the first book which I self-published , Mourning Has Broken,  was on grief, after my sister, Diana, died from a long battle with cancer. If you go on my web site’s blog you can read excerpts from the book. Here’s one of them:

Excerpt From I’m Going To Miss You, Caramel:

My father’s garage was a special garage because he parked his French Fry truck in it. When I think of myself standing as a child of three or four next to his truck I am filled with the sentiments of awe and wonder which is pretty much, except for certain exceptions, how I saw my father throughout his life. Now that he has been dead for over six years this wonderment and pride seems to increase with time although I do not quite know how to explain it for the simple reason that I don’t understand how this happens or why or what to make of it all. It seems such a private thing, in one way. And in another way so universal.

I guess this is what grief is about. The ups and downs. The anger. The sorrow. The bringing up of old wounds and the creation of new ones. Grief is about honor: Of the dead. The living. And oneself. And grief, I have learnt can turn into wonderment. My father is now stronger than ever alive in my heart.

Of course, the past is unattainable but if we’re lucky we can use the past as our guides as Gail Caldwell in her Pulitzer Prize Winning memoir A Strong West Wind proposes. “You can’t go back: to unboarded trains, to pristine battlefields before the dawn, to love that ended yesterday in Texas. Instead we have this stupid, lovely chaos, this burden and blessing called experience, the high beam of the past that is supposed to throw light on the future.”

Mourning has broken

http://carolbalawyder.com/

My wish is that whoever may read Mourning Has Broken – in part or in full –  will find relevance and be able to draw comparisons with his or her own experience of grief so that in some significant way I may touch and help them heal.

About me:

I have dreamt of being a writer since the age of twelve. I was the girl who found reading more interesting than boys and still find characters in fiction a lot more interesting than a lot of people I meet.

I am now retired from teaching criminology in a college and devote most of my time to my writing.

***

Also available on amazon.com is “Missi’s Dating Adventures” an extension of the novel “The Dating Club” in which Missi is one of the main characters.

Missi's Dating Adventures

Missi Morgan is looking for a boyfriend. Maybe she’s just unlucky but she seems to attract the most unsuitable men you can imagine. After so many disappointing dates, her friends in The Dating Club persuade her to write about her experiences. At least some use could come from all these disheartening dates.

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Currently, Carol is working on two crime novels: “The Protector” and “Cora’s Cry for Help.” Watch for them after you check out “The Dating Club” and “Mourning has Broken.” 

Spider Hideouts

Spider Hideouts

Camped near a beautiful beach in Mexico, we often bought our fruit and vegetables from the produce truck.  One day, I lugged home three big bags of vegetables.

“Coming to the beach?” my husband asked.

“You go ahead. I’ll be down right after I clean these veggies,” I grumbled, slapping at the tiny biting flies. I soon gave up trying to work outside and brought the vegetables into the bug-free trailer to clean in my little kitchenette.

Done at last! Now for the beach and a cool swim. I hurried outside to bring in my bathing suit from the clothesline we had strung between two coconut palms. I was about to step into it, when I let out a shriek. A brown critter about the size of a wolf spider was waiting for me inside the bathing suit bra.

Anyone passing by must have gawked at the bathing suit flying out the doorway.

I was late getting to the beach that day, and although the water was refreshing, I couldn’t relax. Other swimmers must have wondered at the woman who kept pulling away the top of her bathing suit to look at her boobs.

That evening, we sat at the kitchen table playing cards and relaxing with an Oso Negro gin and peach juice. I tidied up the last few things before getting into bed.

My husband had just finished brushing his teeth and as he came out of the bathroom he heard me GASP! His eyes followed my arm as I pointed to the corner of the trailer. There, clinging to the ceiling, sat the biggest spider I’d ever seen. The fuzzy dark brown visitor had a body the size of my thumb and could easily straddle a saucer. If I had been a screamer they would have heard me all the way to Mazatlan.

“And I’ve been sitting there playing cards all evening with that thing poised over my head,” I wailed.

I handed my husband the fly swatter, and, in a shaky voice, told him, “If it gets away, I’m not sleeping in here tonight and I’ll be on the plane tomorrow.”

“It must have come in with the vegetables,” he said, as he tossed its crumpled body outside.

And where had it been while I sat there cleaning them? I wondered. Hiding in the cauliflower leaves? How close had I come to touching it? Shivers ran down my back.

The next day we visited an open air market. I admired the handmade wooden cutting boards and picked one up to study the grain. Something ran over my hand. I threw the board into the air and squealed, “Una araña!” The vendor laughed and seemed unperturbed as I pointed to the gigantic spider running in his direction.

I was having serious thoughts of home. But imagine missing all this fun.

— by Anneli Purchase