By Alex Wayne
I am quite sure many have not paused to think about the great effort that is placed behind preparing delectable meals they purchase by night from vendors at the Georgetown, Stabroek Square.
Also, many may not have stopped to ponder the dangers vendors face as well, by night, as they brave the elements for hours, trying to make an honest dollar.
And come to think of it, the fact that many of them are women should be respected.
Being quite close to many of the food vendors, I decided to chat with a few of them to become much more acquainted with their toils, their exploits, and their life behind the food pots and lily white aprons.
Meglon Lowe, of 1398 Block ‘X’, Section B, Great Diamond, East Bank Demerara, has been trading her food items in front of the Stabroek, Demico House outlet.
Some nights she seems drawn and tired, while on other nights, she is quite energetic. After speaking with her, I was ten times more understanding and appreciative of her trade and efforts behind it all.
“I have been doing this for almost 27 years now, and this job has showed me both its highs and lows. It’s not easy to prepare over ten food items daily, get them packed and ready to hit the road before 5 pm.
“I have two helpers but I have to come out every night, because any woman in her right sense would want to take care of her business, or at least overlook it. I do snacks and main food items, so I have more work to do than other vendors. I like to present things with proper taste and rich flavour, so I have my recipes placed about my kitchen not to make mistakes, and to ensure I project consistency.
“I gathered my large customer base from my taste and presentation, and quite soon I am going to New York to bring in heating pots to keep up with the competition.
“Persons may have more modern utensils than me but it’s my traditional taste that keeps them coming back for more. My food keeps them connected to their roots, and of course keeps their taste buds popping.
“Sometimes I make tons of money here, but if there is bad weather sales always decrease. I dread every time they keep the open air shows here at the market square though. This is so because all the young people will do all night is drink beers, and they just won’t buy a thing to eat.
“When this happens I suffer great losses since I have to either dump the food, or give it away to the junkies.
“I enjoy what I do but I am particularly concerned about the crime rate around here. Bandits are robbing citizens quite daringly. Just lately they have been targeting the vendors too. It’s only time before they start a full-scale attack on us innocent people trying to make an honest dollar.”
Meglon gets out of bed around 10 am each day to start preparing by prepping her meats and fish. Her cooking begins from around 12:00 hrs, since she has to catch her first set of customers leaving work in the afternoons and dying for a hot meal.
Ernest Baird, of Kitty, Georgetown, has been in the business for almost eight years and he is quite a merry soul. What keeps his customers glued to him is his dashing smile and country style cooking. He is also of the opinion that food presentation and proper attire are the keys to success.
“I really love what I do; I am always about my customers. Once my customer is happy then I am happy as well. I mix good food, good service, cleanliness and a dashing smile to keep my supporters from going elsewhere. I always ensure my food is presented well, and do my best to offer excellent service.
“It takes nothing out of us to be pleasant to customers despite race, creed and appearance. I sell everyone with a smile as long as they are paying their money. And if they do not have cash, it won’t kill me to give them a meal every now and then.
“Customers love warm food, and a cold meal means a customer is dissatisfied, and may not return again. I have quite a few helpers, but I overlook my food preparation and get involved in every stage since I do not want anyone springing an unpleasant surprise on me.
“The crime situation here really gets to me, and I wish the police will do something about it. But I trying to make an honest dollar and anyone trying to take that from me is in for a fight, even if it means pouring hot food, all over them.
Several other vendors who were bashful of the cameras did however raise concerns about their safety as they ply their trade by night at the Stabroek Market Square.
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