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I Love Marcia's Blue Drawers
by Prem Chadeesingh

I love Marcia's blue drawers. Mmmm, tastes so good! Marcia, who works at Silver Pointe Cottage in Silver Sands Jamaica, prepared them for me as a special treat. She had never made them for anyone before, so I was specially honoured. Many people who work at Silver Sands call Marcia my second mother. 

duckanoo wrapped

What is "Blue Drawers"?
Blue drawers is also called duckanoo or tie-a-leaf. It is a Jamaican dish, mostly eaten as a snack or dessert. Many think it was introduced to Jamaica by Africans. It is a boiled pudding.

How is Duckanoo made?
My research has shown that there are many recipes for this dish, so I will tell you how Marcia made it for me. It is actually the recipe of Marcia's mother. The main ingredients of Marcia's blue drawers are cornmeal, dry coconut, and brown sugar. The dry coconut is grated and added to the cornmeal, brown sugar and a mix of vanilla, cinnamon, mixed spice, nutmeg, salt, butter, and raisins. Some more dry coconut is grated and blended with water to make a coconut juice or cream, which is added to the above mixture.
Banana leaves are cut into rectangles and passed over a flame to quail. Some of the mixture is spooned out onto the quailed leaf and wrapped into a small parcel about two to three inches square. A piece of the trunk of the banana tree is stripped to make a "string" which is used to tie the banana leaf parcel. 

When a large pot of water is brought to the boil, the banana leaf parcels are added and cooked for about an hour, before being removed and unwrapped. Blue drawers may be eaten hot or cold and will keep in the refrigerator for a week to ten days. 

tie-a-leaf unwrapped

Where do these names come from?
No one seems to have any definite answer for these names. "Tie-a-leaf" seems obvious as the banana leaf is tied with a "string" made from the tree trunk. This same "string" may also be the reason this dish is called blue drawers, as drawers is Jamaican slang for underwear and in the old days, before elastic, string was used around the waist to keep the garment in place. But where does the "blue" part of it come from? Duckanoo is no doubt derived from the Ashanti word, dokono, which means boiled maize-bread.

blue drawers unwrapped and cut in two
Isn't part of the travel experience trying new things in the place you visit?
While I can testify that Marcia's blue drawers were scrumptious, I am sure many of the cooks in other Silver Sands villas can also make a very good version of this Jamaican favourite. Ask your Silver Sands villa cook to make this Jamaican speciality for you!