Tucked away in the North end of Bellingham is a small oasis of the Caribbean Islands, better known as Calypso Kitchen.
A delicious aroma of West Indian spices wafted in the air as we entered this wide-open commercial kitchen space. Chef Sarah Chan greeted us and lead us over to the stainless steel workspace where she laid out the ingredients for a simple dish of what she called, Pineapple Chow.
Chan was born on the island of Trinidad. She grew up inside her grandmother’s kitchen and by her grandmother’s side, taking in all she did to prepare a meal.(Image: Chef Sarah Chan)
“Whatever she was doing in the kitchen, I was always at her side, her shadow”, Chan said. This is where it all began, her love of food, cooking, and caring for others. Her grandmother shaped Chan’s life in more ways than one. She taught her how to cook but according to Chan she also taught her how to be a good human.
Chan moved to the United States in 2006 with her three daughters, leaving her beloved Trinidad, and grandmother, for the prospects of a more secure life.
After living in New York briefly, she moved her family to Birch Bay and she currently she resides in the Bellingham area. After having difficulty finding a job she decided to create her own, and Calypso Kitchen was born.
As we gathered at her counter, she began to talk and weave the story of Trinidad and its culture through food. She sliced into the ripe pineapple, dicing it into chunks, explaining how abundantly they grow in Trinidad along, and how a fruit chow is made. For this dish, she used simple ingredients of pineapple, a sweet pepper, culantro, (an herb similar to cilantro but richer in flavor), generous amounts of Himalayan salt, and a dash of pepper. The flavors of Trinidad came alive with the dominant culantro and juicy sweetness of pineapple.