Amari Dawn Pollard
Let's Stamp and Go
In her seminal 1987 novel Beloved, Toni Morrison writes, “She is a friend of my mind. She gather me, man. The pieces I am, she gather them and give them back to me in all the right order.” My mind often drifts to this quote when I think about the Black women in my life. How they nurture my soul in the smallest of ways: when they hold me, when they lift me with their words, when they love me despite seemingly having nothing left to give. What we have is a corporal; they are of me and I am of them.
I feel this most intensely with my mom. Maybe it’s because I am literally of her, but I like to think I’ve been of her before. “She gather me, man.” If all we are as humans is a bunch of atoms, balls of energy moving about the place, my energy moves with hers. I imagine loving someone the way she loves me is exhausting; but even when she’s tired and seemingly has nothing left to give, she gives me her love.
It’s on those Saturday mornings that I feel it most. When I come home, and she wordlessly wakes me from my sleep by frying up some Stamp and Go or Banana Fritters — two of my favorite Jamaican breakfast dishes. I never have to ask, she just does it. When the sun conjures her from her sleep, she rises in her nightgown and goes to the kitchen to cook something she knows I love. Maybe that’s why my Stamp and Go doesn’t taste as good as hers, because the love going in isn’t the same when you’re just cooking for yourself instead of someone you love.
Stamp and Go, also referred to as Saltfish Fritters, is a popular breakfast dish and is one of the first Jamaican fast foods. Its name supposedly derives from 18th century British sailing ships,
where officers were known to request things in a hurry by saying “Stamp and Go!” The recipe from Jamaican Cookery calls for saltfish (also known as salted codfish), flour, one medium sized tomato, one medium sized onion, one clove of garlic, paprika, escallion (also known as Jamaican scallion), and one hot pepper. Some of these ingredients aren’t easy to find in local American grocery stores, and since I’m new to Chapel Hill and have no clue where anything is, substitutions were necessary in order to make this recipe. So, I bought a pack of frozen codfish and the available scallions from my grocery store. (Food Lion, you’re awesome!) To make up for the lack of salted codfish, I simply added extra salt to the recipe.
After frying the batter in extremely hot oil that left me with plenty of burn marks — the sign of a real cook — I had more than enough Stamp and Go to feed a family. It’s safe to say, I will be eating Stamp and Go for breakfast every day this week.