The Morning News's "Secret Horror" movie list

I’m not big on Halloween but dabble in Halloween-related media when October rolls by. I’m also partial to a good horror movie as long as it doesn’t mess my head up too much. Unfortunately, I don’t think any of the movies in The Morning News’s “Secret Horror” list would fall under the latter category, regardless of quality. Dennis Mahoney chose 5 “underappreciated horror movies to thrill and disturb you this Halloween season” including Don’t Look Now which I have seen, funnily enough:

This one’s known for a scary red dwarf and an infamous sex scene with Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie. It’s really about dread. You should know going in that Don’t Look Now (1973) isn’t a traditional horror movie, nor are the supernatural forces readily apparent. The story is one of constant anxiety, a cumulative holding of breath that makes your brain more susceptible to hidden meaning, hallucination, and psychological discomfort.

That one did mess me up. The jumpscares and transformation scenes get you first but it’s the psychological stuff that lingers after the credits roll.

Halloween/horror related: queer Halloween parties in Castro, The Addams Family promo that became Michael Jackson’s Ghosts, Carvell Wallace on Candyman and the exploitation of Black pain in cinema, and Get Out: Black Solidarity and Knowing the Code

A guide to Palestinian cinema for newbies (by Hyperallergic)

Munir Atalla compiled a great list of Palestinian films for beginners:

[…] Interestingly, it has often been Palestine’s proximity to journalists, with their power and modern equipment, that has inspired us to take our narrative into our own hands. The result is that a fragmented mess of people — spanning those living under occupation in the West Bank, under siege in Gaza, as second-class citizens in Israel, and a worldwide diaspora — has created one of the richest and most productive collective oeuvres of the Global South.

And if you want more, there are a few Letterboxd lists to try including this Palestinian cinema archive, Rawad Amer’s Free Palestine.

10 recurring economic falsehoods from 1774–2004

I found this on an old Kottke.org article. As the title suggests, it’s a list of economic fallacies that kept cropping up between 1774 and 2004 and, unfortunately, they’re still happening today. The fallacies include:

Myth #1: The Broken Window

One of the most persistent is that of the broken window—one breaks and this is celebrated as a boon to the economy: the window manufacturer gets an order; the hardware store sells a window; a carpenter is hired to install it; money circulates; jobs are created; the GDP goes up. In truth, of course, the economy is no better off at all.

True, there is a sudden burst of activity, and some persons have surely gained, but only at the expense of the proprietor whose window was broken, or his insurance company; and if the latter, the other policyholders who will pay higher premiums to pay for paid-out claims, especially if many have been broken.

Myth #2: The Beneficence of War

A second fallacy is the idea of war as an engine of prosperity. Students are taught that World War II ended the Depression; many Americans seem to believe that tax revenues spent on defense contractors (creating jobs) are no loss to the productive economy; and our political leaders continue to believe that expanded government spending is an effective way of bringing an end to a recession and reviving the economy.

The truth is that war, and the preparation for it, is economically wasteful and destructive. Apart from the spoils gained by winning (if it is won) war and defense spending squander labor, resources, and wealth, leaving the country poorer in the end than if these things had been devoted to peaceful endeavors.

Myth #1 is poignant because I remember during the Black Lives Matter protests last year, people were condemning the destruction of windows. I wonder if there’s another link with Myth #2.

Anyway, those are excerpts from the first two. Go read the rest.

Economy related: The impressive economics of Homer Simpson and Nina Banks on Sadie Tanner Mossell Alexander and her ideas on economic justice

Looper ranks every Venom from worst to best

Venom is my favourite super villain (as you may or may not know). But everyday is a new opportunity to realise that there are a lot of different versions of the symbiote in the Marvel universe. In April, Michileen Martin compiled a list of the 12 best and worst Venoms.

In 1984, “Amazing Spider-Man” #252 hit the stands bearing a cover with a stark change: Instead of his trademark red and blue, Spider-Man’s costume is black and white. Inside the comic, fans learned the new costume responds to Peter Parker’s thoughts: It can disappear, transform itself into different clothing, and even store items like his wallet. Furthermore, Peter no longer needs to make web fluid, because the suit creates it all on its own. Neither Peter nor his fans knew at the time that one of Marvel’s most popular anti-heroes had just been born.

I’m happy to report—at least for my own ego—that I knew 7 of the 12 chosen, even if I don’t agree with the #1 choice.

Who’s your favourite Venom? Let me know in the comments!

10 alternatives to Helvetica

Helvetica weights

Helvetica has been everywhere for decades. But it’s not free (or original) so you might want a different take on the classic sans serif. Extensis compiled a list of the 10 best Helvetica alternatives.

Most of these I’ve used or otherwise own but a few I’d not seen before, including:

Theinhardt is my #1 from the list. What’s yours? Let me know in the comments.

The 10 worst movies of 2020 according to Dom Griffin

I like to think January is the last month you can mention any kind of “best/worst of” lists for the preceding year and it’s arguably the best time to do them. You get a few days or weeks to digest everything you’ve consumed and you can give a more level-headed response to it.

Dom Griffin aka The Armchair Auteur is that kind of person and that’s why he uploaded his choice of the 10 worst movies of 2020 to his YouTube channel. In his signature style, Dom gives brief lip service to half the list and tears apart the remaining 5 with a mix of acerbic wit and relatable critique that makes you enjoy the review more than you could ever enjoy the films (which is the point as they all suck).

Here’s the list so you can avoid these movies like the plague. Or COVID-19.

  1. Capone
  2. Antebellum
  3. Songbird
  4. Irresistible
  5. Hillbilly Elegy
  6. Doolittle
  7. Last Days of American Crime
  8. John Henry
  9. Coastal Elites
  10. Lazy Susan

Stream the review below.

The Top Ten WORST Movies of 2020

Film list/critique related: 10 classic German expressionist films and the evolution of Pinhead

Favourite typefaces of 2020

I Love Typography and PRINT listed their favourite typefaces of 2020. I’m subscribed to a few typography newsletters and catch a glimpse of new fonts as they’re released but I wasn’t familiar with most on these lists.

There was a lot of love for serif and display fonts in I Love Typography’s list while PRINT was more varied, featuring Atkinson Hyperlegible amongst other sans serif typefaces (a lot of which I like).

I think my favourites from these lists would be Atkinson Hyperlegible, Pacaembú, and Futura Now. The serif ones are either too similar or verging on illegible.

Related: Burger King’s cool rebrand, a typography cheatsheet, the story of Comic Sans, and the omnipresence of Cooper Black.

(h/t Typewolf)

Polygon's MCU Machete Order

Marvel Cinematic Universe

We’ve covered the Star Wars “Machete Order” and the X-Men Machete Order and now we have the MCU Machete Order. Well, not exactly.

Dave Gonzales wrote “The ultimate way to watch the Marvel movies” for Polygon, suggesting the “right” order to watch the MCU films, not in a “chronological marathon”, but for a “well-paced experience”. 14 days of the biggest film franchise in history? Sure, why not, and the order makes sense (especially now since Day 5 is called “Christmas Day”.)

You’ve probably seen many of the Marvel films before, either because you were on board since Iron Man in 2008 and have since gotten a steady stream of Marvel content keeping you up-to-date on the “in universe” events, or maybe you just like big action, blow-em-up-or-shrink-em-down movies, or you’re a fan of one or more A-list actors named Chris. But now, with all the movies now at our disposal for instant renting or streaming, we can experience the MCU in a pure way and at a more relaxed pace than those poor souls who attend in-theater MCU Marathons. A 23-movie arc should not be viewed in marathon fashion. This isn’t an Olympic event, it’s a road trip.

Of the 23 movies in the list, I’ve only seen 11 of them so I’ve got some catching up to do. And there’s some mild controversy over the first movie in the list not being Iron Man which is objectively fair—it did start everything off, after all. But everything else looks good. Well, not Age of Ultron and Iron Man 3—they sucked.

And for the future? We definitely need more black superheroes.

My Top 5 Jean-Michel Basquiat Paintings

Artist Jean-Michel Basquiat Holding Engagement Ring

Words by Sammy aka @___SAMO aka Sampira

I’ve always had a strange relationship with the art world. I grew up in single-parent family. My dad still lives in the flat I grew up in. By definition, in the society we live in, I should never have been into high art. Or ever knew about it. 

We always try and skirt around this issue and say that’s not true. We live in a meritocracy, and everyone gets exactly how much they work for. But… in the age of being completely honest, we know this couldn’t be further from the truth. 

It all depends on how you come into it. I used to sit in the library at school, to avoid bullies. I read book after book after book. When I ran out of all the horror and the history, I turned to the art books. I started reading about Witkin and people like Matisse who had a different way of thinking. But they were still all white and rich. So there was a disconnect. 

Then, there was Basquiat. 

Jean-Michel Basquiat’s face stared through my soul. He was a Black man. He did graffiti. He was outspoken. He had background noise and was making art in his own way. His relationship with the art world (one of his pieces sold for 110 million, the most expensive piece sold by an American artist.)

I have a real obsession with outsiders going on to redefine the value and form of art. It’s often the outsiders that have the most to say, in the most interest ways. They make things we’ve never even dreamed of. It’s because they didn’t grow up in the arts. They weren’t taught the rules, and neither was I. My love for Basquiat goes deeper though. He was Black mixed race like me. He was self-taught like me. There’s so many parallels. He used very abstract images to explain himself, but he was very specific about what they meant. He know his vision so clearly, even if it wasn’t clear to others. 

Here are my 5 favourite pieces. 

5. Untitled (1982)

Untitled (1982)

I think it cements his whole identity, as an artist and a person in the world. It’s also the piece that proved everyone wrong. It sold for $110 million in 2017, making him the most expensive American artist. Yeah, not Black artist, just American artist. This solidifies this piece for me. He did it. He did it for all the streets kids. Completely cut across every single elitist, intimidating, exclusionary art gallery and institution. A self-taught graffiti street kid of Haitian and Puerto Rican descent, did it bigger than anyone. I was so happy when it happened. 

The piece itself, probably isn’t Basquiat’s strongest, honestly. But the aesthetic and the brashness of it, encompasses everything that Basquiat had become in the public eye. There’s very little thematic significance to this piece (i think there’s definitely something deeper BUT, he had far more siginificant social commentary in others.). But what it has done for his legacy, and the statement to kids that just work on instinct, is monumental. 

4. Obnoxious Liberals (1982)

It’s probably the most “political” Basquiat is at, if you ask the art scene. It was a direct comment on the rich arts scene at the time. It was signifying their relationship between artists like himself, who had come up from the streets, and how they treated him, in their elitist attitudes. After, when he started getting acclaim, they would swarm around him, but he had a long memory. It’s a direct, to a point, tongue in cheek critique that they were so hallowly hungry for art, that they would allow themselves to be parodied by an artist they had racially and socio-econimcally cast out. He makes his own stance very clear as well with slogans such as “not for sale” and dollar signs, directly challenging the notion that art should be capitalist. 

3. Tuxedo (1982)

Tuxedo

It’s striking in the way it defies Basquait’s uniform he stitched for himself. His iconic crown is sprayed on the top of the paper and it shows his influences boldly. He loved hip-hop, scat music and poetry. He worked in symbols and poetry and it’s no clearer than here. It’s probably his most abstract work. He often put social commentary through art into his work. The crown, I think, isn’t something to be celebrated. He’s not calling himself a king. He’s using it ironically to symbolise the inequalities he faced. How can you wear a crown if people are dying? Shine it up good, make it twinkle. So we’re not seeing a person wearing a tuxedo, we’re seeing what he thinks a tuxedo is figuratively. 

2. Riddle Me This Batman (1987)

Riddle Me This Batman (1987)

Riddle Me This Batman was made with acrylic crayon on paper. It shows Robin and Joker, but it completely subverts it. I think he’s making a comment on us as a society and who we put our stock in. Growing up in New York, he definitely saw his fair share of corruption and brutality. I always think he’s commenting on our societal need for a hero and a villain; we can never just be… We can never create revolutions as citizens. We always expect someone to rise up and we follow them, to buffer the damage. The same as calling out injustice or defeating evil… We always need a Batman. He subverts this, crossing out Batman’s emblem twice, and portraying Robin as a drunkard. 

1. Untitled (Fallen Angel) (1981)

Untitled (Fallen Angel) (1981)

I’m not an OG fan. I learnt about him when his work came with the Boom! For Real exhibition at the Barbican, but I instantly felt connected to him. Like an old friend. Untitled (Fallen Angel) is one of the most striking paintings I’ve ever seen. I was struggling badly with my mental health, and the painting alleviated some of that, which is monumental. It’s a mix of pain and freedom. It says, to me, that freedom is beautiful to the oppressed, but the white and upper-class supremacist system sees us as monsters when we do fight for our freedom. It gave me a lot of comfort when I was struggling with whether to assimilate or go my own way. When I learnt about Jean-Michel and where he had come from, I decided to go my own way and never looked back. 

Jean-Michel Basquiat is a testament to talent. People have often commented on “talent being in an unexpected place” but that is rooted in racism. they said the same about Alexander McQueen, and it was deep rooted in classism. Basquait is enigmatic, passionate, multi-faceted and he left us way too soon.

He died of an overdose, brought on with the struggles of fame within the art world. He was being lauded by the same people who were calling him racial slurs behind his bag; an absolute madness to deal with. He died at 27, a year younger than me. I think about that alot. All the art he’s left. What he would have said about the world today. Maybe that wasn’t written though. 

As so many great artists leave young, maybe we were only supposed to have his greatness for a short time. To spark the next minds and then leave. To tell us, in his very short life, what street kids were capable of, and not to take it too seriously. Keep that tongue in cheek spirit with the critiques too. And give it to them, every single day, the only way a street kid can. 

Nnesaga's top 5 DC animated movies

Justice League

It’s been a hot minute since I last watched a DC animated movie but I’m almost certain it was a Batman movie. I’ve not watched enough DC animated movies to form a balanced top 5 but Stephanie Ijoma of Nnesaga has and, in May, she went through her 5 favourites.

If you want to know what they are, check out them out in the summary (below)

Nnesaga’s top 5 DC animated movies (click the triangle to open the list)
  1. Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox
  2. Batman: Under The Red Hood
  3. Teen Titans: Judas Contract
  4. Justice League: Throne of Atlantis
  5. Justice League: Doom

Who is Nnesaga?

Nnesaga is a media platform founded by Black gamer Stephanie Ijoma. It champions diversity in the form of events, media and workshops in comic book media, gaming, and anime.

As Steph says, there are a lot of films in the DC animated universe (which includes the DC Universe Animated Original Movies, the DC Animated Movie Universe, and any animated films made before 2007) so it can be tough to pick a top 5.

But that didn’t stop Steph laying down the Bat-gauntlet so to speak:

If Flashpoint Paradox & Batman: Under the Red Hood isn’t in your top 5, what are you still doing here?

I better leave and rectify that error in judgement!

What are your favourite DC animated movies? Let us know in the comments.

Soo.. WHAT'S YOUR TOP 5 DC ANIMATED MOVIES?

Socials

24 Anti-Racist Books You Should Read

black woman reading book

There have been a lot of anti-racist book lists shared on the internet. In fact, here are 3 of them:

But for this list from Open Culture, the titles were recommended by readers.

If this is overwhelming but you feel you must start to engage with the history and theory of anti-racism, don’t despair or buy a pile of books you know you can’t read right now. All of the most prominent anti-racist authors have been in high demand for interviews.

Quote from Open Culture

Some of these books you’ll know, some you won’t. Some you may own, some may be on your wishlist already. The best time to be anti-racist is always now. If you can buy a book or have access to read one, I strongly recommend you do and put the learning into action.

Alongside the Open Culture list, I have chosen 5 books of my own.

Open Culture’s reading list

My book recommendations

28 facts about Jamaican culture

For a tiny island in the Caribbean Sea, Jamaica has had a massive impact on the world in a number of ways. But there’s much more to Jamaica than Bob Marley and Cool Runnings and that doesn’t always get represented. That’s why I’ll be giving you 28 facts about Jamaican culture to broaden your scope and show you just how influential the nation has been.

The history of Jamaica

  1. The name ‘Jamaica’ comes from the Arawakan ‘Xaymaca’ meaning ‘Land of Wood and Water’.
  2. Before the island was colonised, a group known as the “Redware people” arrived in Jamaica in 600 AD and then the Arawak–Taíno around 200 years later. Known as Yamaye, some of the natives still remain on the island.
  3. Jamaica gained independence from the British on 6th August 1962 and was the first English-speaking Caribbean island to do so.
  4. Jamaica’s motto is ‘Out of Many, One People’.
  5. Jamaica is a member of CARICOM, the Commonwealth, IMF (International Monetary Fund), the UN, UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization), and WHO (World Health Organization).
  6. Kingston is capital of Jamaica but it’s in the smallest parish on the island by area (25km²).
  7. The yellow (or gold), black and green of the Jamaican flag represent the shining sun, the strength and creativity of the people, and the land.

Language

  1. While the official language of Jamaica is ‘Jamaican Standard English’, Jamaican patois is widely used and arguably the most well-known language spoken on the island. There have been many calls for it be classed as an official language.
  2. Jamaica is the third-most populous English-speaking country in the Americas, after the United States and Canada.

Religion

  1. Christianity is the largest religion on the island and has played a major role in Jamaican culture, as with many Black communities from the diaspora.
  2. The most notable derivative of that is the Rastafari movement, with its strong connections to Africa. Originating in the 1930s, Rastafarians follow teachings from the Old and New Testament but the movement is distinct in its belief that Ethiopia’s former Emperor, Haile Selassie, was the human embodiment of God.
  3. Besides Islam, Hinduism, and Judaism, Jamaica also has a congregation of Baha’i followers. In 2003, the then-Governor General of Jamaica, Sir Howard Cooke, made the 25th July ‘National Bahá’í Day’.
Jamaican man

Humanities

  1. Tony-Award-winning choreographer Garth Fagan was born in Kingston, Jamaica.
  2. A dance known as Bruckins is performed during Emancipation Day.
  3. Nobel prize laureate Derek Walcott, attended college in Jamaica.
  4. James Bond writer Ian Fleming wrote his Bond novels while living in Jamaica.
  5. 2015 Man Booker Prize winner Marlon James was born in Kingston.

Society

  1. Nine-Nights is a funeral tradition practised in Caribbean nations including Jamaica where people take part in an extended wake that lasts for several days. In that time, friends and family share anecdotes, eat food and sing hymns together.
  2. Some Jamaican believe burying the umbilical cord of a newborn under a tree is said to give the child a permanent connection to the island.
  3. In 2019, Jamaica reported its lowest unemployment rate in 50 years.

Sport

  1. Every August, the Pushcart derby takes place, involving races between push carts, similar to American soap box races. The finals take place in the parish of St Elizabeth.
  2. Jamaican has won 78 medals at the Olympics, including 1 bronze medal in the men’s cycling 1 km time trial at Moscow 1980.

Fashion

  1. The Kariba suit is a two-piece suit for men, popularised by former Prime Minister, Michael Manley. Designed in Jamaica in the early 1970s, the suit was made as a form of businesswear to replace standard European suits. When Manley and the People’s National Party came to power in 1972, Parliament passed a law making the Kariba suit the official outfit for formal government functions.
  2. The Quadrille dress is worn in Jamaica and other Caribbean countries but the quadrille dance, for which it is worn, is only danced in Jamaica and Trinidad today.

Nature

  1. Jamaica’s national flower is the lignum vitae while the national bird is the red-billed streamertail or ‘doctor bird‘.
  2. The Jamaican boa is the largest snake on the island but none of the eight species of snakes on the island are venomous.
  3. Jamaica’s exports include sugar, bananas, cocoa, coconut, grapefruit, rum, yams, and Blue Mountain Coffee.
  4. The Jamaican slider is a species of turtle that’s only found in Jamaica and on a few islands in the Bahamas.

8 Keith Haring Documentaries to Watch on YouTube

Playlist: Keith Haring Documentaries

Modern art rabbit holes are the best kind to fall down.

Sure, there’s a lot of pretentiousness in the field and dominated by white men both at the canvas and observing it for the media. But there’s a unique artist for everyone. Someone that catches you off guard with their interpretation of the world, telling a story that means something to you.

And for me, Keith Haring is one of those artists. Born on 4th May 1958, Haring’s work became synonymous with New York City and its bustling subways, depicting striking images of human figures, dogs, and all kinds of manifested emotions.

As his popularity grew, so did the themes behind them. He created large scale murals as forms of activism for AIDS awareness and sexuality. His work never demeaned or alienated those who observed. They were fun and full of energy and, most of all, memorable. You know when seen a Keith Haring piece.

So with that, I’ve made a YouTube playlist of 8 Keith Haring documentaries to watch at your leisure. Enjoy!

Update: 3 of the videos were made private so only 5 are available to view.

1. Drawing the line: a portrait of Keith Haring

This documentary was produced by Elisabeth Aubert in conjunction with Biografilm.

Keith Haring’s artistry moved went from New York subway graffiti to the art galleries and walls of the rich and famous. He was often likened to Andy Warhol (much like his best friend Jean-Michel Basquiat) but I feel that diminished his individuality and personal merit.

He broke boundaries with his work as a form of activism during the AIDS epidemic, which he sadly died from in 1990.

2. The Universe of Keith Haring

The strapline for this documentary is simply “a portrait of New York artist Keith Haring” but this picture paints a lot more than 1,000 words.

Christina Clausen directed the film and gave glimpses into his life, from his humble beginnings in Pennsylvania to pop culture icon. The film also stars Yoko Ono, Fab 5 Freddy, and David LaChapelle.

3. Keith Haring – The Message

French fashion designer Maripol presented his documentary (English dub and French subs). Split into episodes, The Message looked at the different ways Haring’s work immersed itself into pop culture during the 80s.

4. Discover the King of Street Art: Keith Haring

Discover the King of Street Art will appeal to fans of mini-documentaries. This one is a 4-minute journey through his life and features some of his most famous pieces, from subway walls to the Berlin Wall (and Grace Jones).

5. Keith Haring Uncovered

The other documentaries in the list gave overviews of Haring’s life but Keith Haring Uncovered looks at his visit to Australia in 1984 when he created a mural in Collingwood, Melbourne. What makes this mural special is its rarity – there are only 31 known Haring murals “in the wild” so to speak.

6. From the archives: Keith Haring was here

This is an archived news story rather than a doc but it’s still pretty cool. Charles Osgood investigated on Haring’s chalk drawings in New York subways that often got him in trouble with the law. Spoilsports.

7. Mr. Guera Reads …Keith Haring: The Boy Who Just Kept Drawing

If the children are our future, they ought to know about Haring too. And this video does exactly that. Mr Guera is an illustrator who makes educational trading cards called Buzu Trading Cards® and in this, he did a reading of Keith Haring: The Boy Who Just Kept Drawing by Kay A Haring, Keith’s younger sister.

8. Intro to Keith Haring

The final video splices together footage from other documentaries as an educational aid, including the semiotic nature of his work. Perfect for students of any age.

Haring related: Keith Haring’s personal art collection to be auctioned

8 Things My Mum Made Me Buy From West Indian Shops

Picture taken in a West Indian shop, from Riaz Phillips' Belly Full series

I love my West Indian heritage. Whenever I can, I claim it above being British as I feel more at home amongst family and my kinfolk. A part of that comes from the Jamaican cuisine and having to buy ingredients for certain dishes.

As a teenager, I’d have to go out to various ethnic shops (often South Asian-owned) but I also went to West Indian shops that stocked all the things my mum needed. I didn’t always enjoy doing it (who wants to run errands while you’re in the middle of playing video games?). But as I got older, it was nice to go for a walk and immerse myself in the culture.

So, here are 5 things my mum made me buy from West Indian shops.

Jamaican bread (or hard dough bread to everyone outside my family)

Jamaican bread (or hard dough bread to everyone outside my family)

I didn’t know it was generally known as hard dough bread until my late teens. I always knew it as Jamaican bread and that’s what I call it to this day. It’s the best bread on the planet as far as I’m concerned. It’s thick, sweet, and demands a slab of butter on it by default.

In terms of size and shape, I started out buying the square-shaped loaves but as time passed, we moved onto the rounder loaves. It was a better choice. You got more bread for your money that way. Who cares if it’s misshapen? This ain’t Bake Off.

Bun (spiced bun)

Bun (spiced bun)
A smaller version

There is no better bun out there. The Jamaican spiced bun is often eaten during Easter and that’s when I usually got it but the tradition extended to Christmas because why not?!

For anyone who hasn’t experienced this Jamaican delicacy, the bun is often round and dark brown, filled with currants or raisins and goes hand in hand with cheese (although I eat it with butter mostly). And a glass of milk to wash it all down. I’m sure the vegan alternatives would go superbly with it as well.

Coconut cream

Coconut cream

This often shocks people but I don’t like coconut. The taste makes me wretch, particularly if it’s desiccated coconut. Not a fan of the water. But the cream and the milk is fine in food… if the flavour isn’t prominent.

That’s how I managed to eat rice and peas with coconut cream in it for so many years. It was a Sunday staple and I’d regularly buy the boxed form from KTC.

Encona Hot Pepper Sauce

Encona Hot Pepper Sauce

It’s strange that I can’t handle spicy food and yet I’ve written about ghost peppers and hot gummy bears. I live for the intrigue I guess.

My mum couldn’t eat her food without Encona. Had to be that brand. Recently, she’d been “slumming it” with Tabasco as they didn’t sell Encona where she lived. When I visited earlier this month, I brought two bottles of Encona for her. She was happy.

The pepper used in the sauce is the Scotch bonnet, which is more than 10x hotter than the hottest jalapeño. It’s no ghost pepper but it’s fire for anyone who can’t handle heat like me. You’ll definitely need another glass of milk for this one.

Green bananas

Green bananas

This wasn’t a regular purchase but still one I made. Some may know them as guineos in Latin America, Puerto Rico, and the Dominican Republic and they’re basically unripened bananas. My mum would boil them and we’d eat them with dumplings (often boiled too but occasionally fried) and yam (we’ll get to that one later).

Not my favourite savoury food as it didn’t taste of anything so that’s when the gravy came in, to add some flavour.

Honourary mentions

Some of these weren’t exclusively purchased at West Indian shops but they were things I bought on my travels and remind me of my black heritage.

Yam

There was an art to buying the right yam. My mum did it most of the time but on the occasions I did, the pieces had to be clean-ish, big-ish, and cheap-ish.

Much like green bananas, I wasn’t a fan (in fact, I hated them as a kid). But my tastes matured and a bit of gravy went a long way.

KA drinks – Karibbean Kola or Black Grape

The Caribbean amber nectar. I know people love Supermalt but Karibbean Kola and Black Grape were my drinks. Sweet beyond words but the flavour! They were exquisite.

West Indian shops often have fridge shelves filled with them. That’s when you know you’re in the right place.

Nurishment

Speaking of delightfully sweet drinks contributing to diabetes in black people, it’s Nurishment! Besides the sugar, the cans have all the vitamins you need for the day and it comes in an assortment of flavours – my favourite is strawberry.

I still buy them every now and again but I always check the price. If they’re on offer, they’re about £1 otherwise I don’t pay any more than £1.40, which is the RRP. I don’t usually buy them in West Indian shops either.

(main image source: Evening Standard)