Fried Chicken with Oxtail Gravy at 3am? It’s About Time!

How can someone spend their teenage years in Scarborough, a place so diverse and rich with culture, and never try oxtail — c’est impossible! As a teen living in the eastern suburb of Toronto affectionately called, “Scarberia,” by some locals, I spent much of my time involved in sports, often just grabbing some fries, beef patties or a burger from the cafeteria before running off to my next event. Culinary exploration? Not high on my list back then.

Fast-forward twenty years, a growing appreciation for cuisine and fairly refined palette, yet still I had not tried oxtail. Which brings us to last night: another sleepless Sunday, into a Monday morning and an unrelenting hunger that struck at around 2:30am. With tremendous doubt of finding anything other than pizza available for delivery, I was incredibly happy to find RAP’s Caribbean food was a delivery option on UberEATS — YAY!

I decided it was finally time to try oxtail but with that dish sold out, I had to “settle” for the fried Chicken with oxtail gravy! While further scanning the menu, I found festival bread offered as a side option on their menu — double fantastic! My reasoning was, “If the chicken and oxtail isn’t my thing, I’ve never encountered a bread that I didn’t like!”

The food arrived within thirty minutes of ordering. When the hot Styrofoam container of fried chicken, oxtail gravy, rice and peas was handed to me I felt a mix of excitement sprinkled with a little bit of trepidation, calmed only by the Uber driver passing me a lunch-sized warm paper bag containing the festival bread! I tried the chicken first and it was glorious, cut into delicious easy to eat sections. The taste, I would say, felt more homemade, lightly oiled, and less greasy than most fried chicken. I was enjoying the chicken so much I had forgotten all about the oxtail gravy, which was poured over the brown rice and smaller portion of peas. The gravy was very dark and I had no complaints about its saltiness, sweetness, spiciness, texture or thickness; it was just right. After only a few fork-fulls of brown rice, peas and gravy, I jumped to the warm bag of festival bread. According to Jamaican legend; festival bread is so named because it is, “fun to eat” like a festival! The exterior of this Jamaican take on a cornbread fritter was hard, crispy and lightly coated with oil. The bread split open with moderate effort, yet surprisingly quickly exposing a warm and fluffy interior that seemed to burst forward. Two large pieces of bread, about half the size of a baseball, made this three-dollar side order a delicious bargain and true to legend, it was fun to eat!

I estimate that 47 minutes passed from the time I placed the order to the time I fell asleep with a satiated tummy — a fantastic success in my books!

Happy midnight snacking, Lovelies!

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