On a ridiculously hot Monday, Sally Callender's Cucumber Quencher certainly hit the spot.
"How do you like it?" She asks with a smile, a question she obviously knows the answer to, judging from the laughter that erupted from within her as the glasses containing the green, thick drink quickly went from full to empty.
A magical concoction of cucumber, ginger, lime and bitters, the Cucumber Quencher made for happy taste buds and is one of over 125 new recipes featured in Naparima Girls' High School's latest cookbook Celebrate Food!—so, too, the tasty Tamarind Guava BBQ Shrimp and the Chicken Wrap with Sesame Pesto that Callender served at her Maraval home.
The book, the third such publication put out by the South-based school, is due for launch this Sunday at Cara Suites Hotel and Conference Centre, Southern Main Road, Pointe-a-Pierre, and was done to commemorate the school's centenary anniversary.
The first book by Naparima Girls' was the Diamond Jubilee Cookbook, which was launched in 1988 and has become a staple in most kitchens across the country and even in some countries abroad. The second, released in 2002, was a revised and improved version of the first book, titled Multi-Cultural Cuisine of Trinidad and Tobago and the Caribbean.
Celebrate Food!, readers would agree, has raised the bar in the standard of cookbooks in the country. With recipes by Celia Teelucksingh and Callender, it contains appetisers, entrees, sides, desserts, beverages, useful information/mea- surements/abbreviations, herbs, spices and a glossary of cooking terms, glossary of ingredients and equipment and napkin folds.
Callender, who once owned the Cinnamon House guest house in Point Fortin, studied food and nutrition at the former John Donald- son Technical Institute. Teelucksingh, a President's Award winner for technical teacher training, is a former food and nutrition teacher.
"For the last year, this book has consumed our lives," Teelucksingh admitted.
"But it was a pleasure working with Sally because we both understand food and we think alike.
"Creating, compiling and testing recipes, editing and simplifying to make this book more user-friendly and cooking less daunting was quite a tedious process but was a truly gratifying experience as we know that this book, as its sisters, will be passed down for generations to come."
Denyse Ewe and Zenobia Mohammed are the book's editorial assistants.
"The attention to detail and the willingness of these ladies to make adjustments over and over again, in my mind, affirmed the quest for excellence that is well entrenched in our school's culture," Patricia Ramgoolam, past principal (2000-2012) of Naparima Girls', said in the book's foreword.
"For our young readers who are interested in cooking their own meals, this book, no doubt, would inspire you to be adventurous and explore the exciting realm of cooking."
Teelucksingh refused to compare Celebrate Food! to the school's two previous cookbooks and said this latest cookbook was not meant to replace or compete with the older issues.
"It is a companion cookbook that shows the current trends in foods, local and international flavours, an exploration of world cuisine and fusion cooking."
Styling and photography of the food featured in the book were done by Callender's daughter and former "Naps" girl Rhé Ann Callender, a qualified chef based in the US.
To make the book more reader-friendly, several special features were introduced, including colour-coded bars to identify the sections, preparation time, helpful tips on choice of ingredients, cooking techniques and simplifying methods, and a "V" to indicate that the featured recipe is suitable to vegetarians.
Recipes range from Corn Soup to Cocktails, Guava Teriyaki-Glazed Salmon with Coconut Lime Rice to Garlic Rosemary Roasties, Spinach and Feta Rolls to Snowball Cookies. We're certain you've tried corn on the cob, but have you ever had Curried Corn on the Cob? It is just another of the many original recipes to be found in the book.
Also featured are recipes for popular local favourites, including Pepper Roti and Pineapple Mango Chow, which is said to be a treasured treat by foreigners.
"They actually serve the chow in Martini glasses in some places," she said.
Callender said anyone who has had basic experience in cooking would be able to follow the recipes in Celebrate Food!.
"This was really a labour of love for us, and we hope people enjoy it. I think it will make a great gift that would last beyond the season."
Celebrate Food! will be on sale the day following the launch, and proceeds from sales of the book will be used towards the building, education and other programmesi of Naparima Girls' High School.