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No-pressure cooker

Published: 
Monday, January 12, 2015
TRINI TO D BONE
Bernadette George, right, at the Breakfast Shed in Port-of-Spain.

My name is Bernadette George and I was a cook in the original Breakfast Shed.

They doesn’t call it Breakfast Shed now, but I still call it Breakfast Shed.  They now calling it Fammes du Chalice or whatever. Fam du Sha-lay, Fem du Cha-lay or something. I can’t pronounce it. I would bite my tongue.

My mother from Union Island, St Vincent, my father from Grenada. I born and grow up in Laventille. Then I went to Morvant. I have a daughter myself. Sheries. That’s my daughter.

Morvant was real nice. It change to now.  It don’t have the love again. But I born and grow there and I will die right there.

In we days, before school, we get up, we full four drums with water. We help the neighbour full a next drum. From the standpipe, pulling box-cart. But now, young people don’t even self help old people cross the streets! Everybody going to get old; but these young ones don’t care ’bout nothing.

I went Malick Girls RC but I didn’t like too much of book-work; I liked hard work. Like cooking, cleaning out. From small, I like to cook. And they teach me how to cook at home. I leave school early, after my father died, to help my mother. I don’t regret it. I make my way with cooking. I come from nothing to reach somewhere.
Breakfast Shed is a generation thing: each mother bring in their daughter, but I come in like a worker. The best thing I remember is getting my stall from Miss Ruth. She die now.

I’m a Baptist. My faith is important to me. If I didn’t believe in God, I wouldn’t reach where I reach today.

They have another Bernadette in the Shed: Bernadette Smith: that’s my girl! We from way back. Don’t mind me and she don’t get along so much. She used to ask me, “Bernadette, we going to make it?” I used to tell she, “Yes!” And we did make it.

God is right next to you. But you have to believe in him to see him. With him, you go succeed; without him, you go suck salt.

Cro-Cro and Sparrow come like prophets. They see the future in front of them. And, if you wait long enough, you see everything come to pass.

The Breakfast Shed was down by the Hyatt. Way, way back, before I reach to the old one, and to this one here, it was somewhere by the bus terminus side. But that was before my time.

I started in the Breakfast Shed at the age of 32 years. I didn’t start with my mother, I started with the older heads. Miss Ruth. I going on in it about 20 years.

I make breakfast. Into breakfast, you cook lunch. Into lunch, that’s it, and you go home until next morning. It’s very satisfying work, feeding people, but it’s very hard work. But that’s okay because I love hard work.

I buy, choose all the foodstuff myself. My daughter and them can’t shop for me. Because I go find a fault. Then banana not going to look good; them fig not going to suit my styling. I give the food to my daughter them to cook; I could trust them with that. I resigning just now, so she will have to take over. I will still go in the market when I resign, because I can’t sit down, I’ll be still exercising the body.

Breakfast Shed is a place where you could get a big pile of good food for a reasonable price. Everybody comes to the Breakfast Shed: from high to low; from foreign to local. Big shot. Small man. White, Chinee, Potogee, French, Indian. And you can’t talk French, you have to teach them Trini. But they understand the food, though.

Breakfast Shed open every day but, coming down to Christmas, all o’ we take we holidays. The whole place shut down for a week, two weeks, and we open back for January.

The best thing about having a shop in the Breakfast Shed is the independence. It very nice to work for yourself. And to have something to hand on to your daughter. The bad part is you have the up and down.

A Trini is a hardworking person. But young people now, they don’t like to work.

I been Jamaica, Barbados, Caracas, Curacao. You need to see other places. But Trinidad, that’s my home.

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