I can’t remember much about my Grandpa before Alzheimer’s slowly ate his brain. I’ve sifted through my memories, refined each grain hoping to discover something new, but there’s only one distinct memory of him. It’s from the summer my parents sent my sister and me off to Jamaica, where I gnawed on endless bags of sugarcane and happily ran beneath warm afternoon rain showers. Late one morning, while we were playing in the living room, my grandpa called us over to slip icy mints into our hands and quickly shooed us away before our grandma could see. She didn’t like it when he gave us too many sweets — which was often.
It's been eleven years since he died, and now he passes through my mind more often than he ever did when he was alive. I miss him, along with all the things I can’t remember and will never know about him.
Every night, when I fix myself some tea and watch the condensed milk slip into my cup, my thoughts turn to him. The only person I know to have loved condensed milk more than me is my grandpa. I love to hear my family talk about all the interesting things he used to put it on, like hard dough bread, crackers, and otaheiti apple.
A trip to the grocery store never goes without picking up a can of condensed milk. However, with the amount of coffee and tea I drink, along with the amount of porridge I eat, it never lasts for too long. So, I was thrilled to see a recipe for it at the very beginning of Jamaican Cookery. Despite always scuffing at the cost of condensed milk, it had never occurred to me that I could simply make it. At first glance, I thought the recipe would make the thick condensed milk bought in stores, but then I noticed it was placed in the “Drinks” section. I wouldn’t necessarily consider condensed milk a drink nor would I recommend someone drinking it by itself, unless they’re looking to develop a form of diabetes. Even so, I gave the recipe a shot and created a concoction that can only be described as a watery milkshake — or, the milk leftover from a bowl of sweet cereal. While I’m not sure if that was the result the recipe intended, it tasted good and made a nice addition to my morning coffee. Next time, I might try it with some Baileys Irish Cream. I have a feeling they’d work very well together.