Two Families, Two Traditions of BakingThursday, January 06, 2022
Larona McCoy grew up at Coombs Lane in St James and developed a love for cooking and baking in her teens.
Her love for baking was ignited by a neighbour, Joyce Brown, who would always bake on Sundays and share it with the community, especially the children.
“I would go by Ms Joyce on a Sunday and watch her bake and soon enough I caught on. When I started my family, I tried my first Christmas cake and then that became a tradition for us. My husband also loves baking. He does this pastry called Duff and, strangely enough, I still haven't caught it fully!” McCoy shared with Thursday Food.
“Two of my children got the cooking and baking from me; my eldest child, Koy Ridguard, is a chef and my daughter Seanna McCoy has her interest in vegan food. They both studied food in school and now Seanna even has me going meatless and she also bakes vegan cakes,” McCoy added.
“I've found a great sense of satisfaction in baking and it makes me happy when I share my baking with people and they always enjoy the experience. I bake with lots of love every time and my fruits are soaked months in advance as this gives richness to the cakes,” McCoy explained.
Seanna started baking in high school and took a break after she started working in a tourism entity. However, after her interest in a vegan lifestyle was sparked she started experimenting.
“My passion for cooking and baking came back in waves after my vegan journey began. I was experimenting with plant-based food; it's an ongoing process but we are having fun with it. Christmas dinners are a little bit different now and for the new year I have some more experimenting to do,” Seanna stated.
Jodine Samuels, at 24 years old, is the latest in a line of bakers and cooks maintaining a family tradition that extends beyond her mom and maternal grandmother.
“I'm from a family of bakers and this [baking] was a hidden talent I didn't know I had. I have always had it in mind to do a banana bread and in May of last year, I was home alone and I decided I'm going to do this and I've never baked before. My sister tried it and I brought some to work and the feedback was great,” Samuels explained.
“I did a bread pudding next, carrot cake, protein bar, cornmeal pudding and at the end of the year I was doing my first Christmas cake and next on my list is potato pudding,” Samuels added.
Jodine's mom, Christene Samuels, is one of eight children for Francis Clarke Williams, who was the go-to baker in her community of Barton in St Elizabeth.
Williams operated a cookshop and was the cook at Elim Agricultural School (now Sydney Pagon Stem Academy) for 14 years in the parish.
According to Christene, her own mom was highly sought-after for wedding and Christmas cakes, a love for baking that Christene's sister Jacqueline Williams inherited and Christene herself inheriting the love for cooking. Christene's daughter Petrona Samuels felt the love for cooking and now Jodine is bitten by the baking bug.
“It was eight of us and my mom was always cooking and baking, everyone wanted 'Mother U' or 'Miss Uris', as she was called, to bake their cake, whether for weddings or Christmas. My eldest sister, Donna Roye, worked as a cook for the same school as our mom and I worked at Apple Valley Park as a cook for 10 years. I was well-known for my escoveitched fish. If you were travelling I was the go-to person for fish. Our brothers are very good cooks too; this is a gift; we didn't go to school for it and it's truly a family thing. When we gather at Christmas or for the new year, we are all doing our specialties,” Samuels explained with a smile.