Monday, August 25, 2008
What the Jamaicans Olympians eat @ Home...
"IT'S all in the yam, dumpling, and banana" has become the standing joke posited by locals in explanation of why Jamaican sprinters have done so well at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and why they generally excel on the local and international circuits.
It may really be all in the yam, dumpling, and banana if the word from the families of some of our star athletes at the Olympic Games is anything to go by.
Decathlete Maurice Smith
Maxine Simpson, mother of 100m gold medallist Shelly-Ann Fraser, said her daughter likes to eat yam and banana and a bit of rice, but that she spends most of her time drinking.
You'll find Shelly-Ann sipping bottles of Gatorade, carrot juice, Lucozade, Guzzler, and cranberry juice.
When she does eat meat it is chicken, or liver. Maxine explained that her daughter doesn't have a favourite meal: "She likes every little thing and she will eat anything I cook for her."
Sherone Simpson's father, Audley, says on the family farm in Devon, Manchester, lots of cow head, cow skin, and tripe were eaten by the Olympic silver medallist.
Sprint hurdler Brigitte Foster-Hylton
"A lot of ram goat - not sheep - ram goat...ram goat soup and plantain porridge," he laughed.
Asafa Powell's mother, Cislyn, was jovial as she talked about her son's special relationship with cornmeal dumplings: "At one time he used to eat a lot of yam and bananas, but now he says he is cutting down on the starch so he doesn't eat them so much, but he is not putting down the dumpling."
Asafa also enjoys a good plate of rice and peas with fried chicken. He has cut most of the meat out of his diet but still relishes escoveitched fish with onions and pepper as well as 'run down' with salt fish and, of course, dumplings.
"He loves when I cook red or gungo peas soup with pig's tail," she said. "Sometimes he calls and asks me if I can't cook some peas soup for him."
However, she says, stew peas with pig's tail - a Jamaican favourite - is not well liked by any of her children, including Asafa, as she says it has always made them sick since they were youngsters.
"He doesn't like to drink tea," she adds. "Sometimes I have to quarrel with him... the young people nowadays just don't like to drink tea."
For a sweet treat, Powell's favourites are fruit cake and the potato pudding Cislyn often bakes.
Brigitte Foster-Hylton is very conscious about her diet, her husband Patrick tells us. She has a very controlled diet consisting of protein shakes, eggs or fish with vegetables, tomatoes and fruits for breakfast and lots of water throughout the day.
The sprint hurdler is not very much into dessert. "She kinds of spoils it for me when we go out for a meal because I want to order dessert and she asks why do I want to eat all of that stuff that's not good for me," he joked.
Usain Bolt's mother, Jennifer, is spending the week in Beijing at the Olympics soaking up the atmosphere and the sheer joy of having her older son being crowned the world's fastest man, but dad Wellesley is pretty au fait with Usain's favourite culinary delights.
"Mostly rice and peas, chicken and pork," he said. The chicken is best enjoyed stewed and the pork - the Jamaican speciality - jerked.
He added that Usain likes dumplings, doesn't fancy stew peas, and loves a nice slice of fruit cake with a drink of sorrel at Christmas time.
The thing his mother prepares specially for the 6-foot 5-inch tall sprinter when he returns after a long sojourn from his family home in Sherwood Content, Trelawny, however, is a nice big pot of crayfish soup, which, according to Wellesley, Usain "loves".
Luckily for all our athletes, Jamaica's management team has brought along a Jamaican chef to Beijing to prepare the favourite meals of those in the camp for the Olympic Games.