"Jamaican Me Hungry" at Charlestown

CATONSVILLE, MD (June 16, 2015) -- Jamaican culture and cuisine today came to Charlestown retirement community when two employees born and raised on the island shared stories of their hometown as they prepared a traditional Jamaican Sunday dinner of brown stewed chicken, rice and peas.

Nearly 100 residents and staff attended the presentation by Dean Crawford, practice manager in the Medical Center, and Kenny Francis, a housekeeping utility worker. Charlestown's Diversity & Inclusion Council sponsored the hour-long event, which was called “Jamaican Me Hungry.”

Crawford and Francis grew up in a Jamaica where sweet time and mother nature were their friends. They grew the food they consumed.

"Good home cooking is a vital part of life in all Jamaican households and Sunday dinners were paramount," said Crawford, who grew up in the Jamaican countryside of Clarendon.

After working hard all week, most Jamaican families rested on Sundays and the best meals would be prepared in celebration of the end of the week and the beginning of another, according to Francis.

Francis, who grew up in Jamaica's capital city of Kingston, and Crawford bonded over their fondness for Jamaican cuisine inspired by the love and attention to detail that is involved in preparing the food.

"We wanted to share this experiences with the residents and employees here at Charlestown and also to take them on a cultural journey and discover what it is like 'growing up Jamaican,'" Francis said.

While Crawford and Francis had different upbringing, the Jamaican culture is very closely-knitted so they shared many of the same experiences. 

As children they both enjoyed playing cricket, a favorite past time of many Jamaicans.  They also liked going to the river for mid-day summer swims. In addition, they played Cowboys and Indians with the other area kids.

"To this day we often think back fondly on those earlier days and we both have come to the realization that if we had the choice to go back and do it all over, we wouldn’t change a single thing," said Crawford.

Crawford has been living in the United States for 23 years while Francis has been living here for 5 years.