The rallador is a popular and essential cooking instrument in all Garifuna kitchens. The rallador is used to grind bananas, plantains but especially coconut. The surface is wide with small rocks embedded in a wooden board, which shreds any food item put against it. Throughout all of my childhood I have watched my mother and aunties use the rallador to make many meals, especially coconut juice that is added to yummy fish soup, rice and bean dishes. Even though Garifuna people immigrated to the United States, in my case specifically to the South Bronx, they brought their cooking instruments that enabled them to cook Garifuna dishes.
On a trip to Honduras in 2000 I wanted a piece of Garifuna art with me when I returned to the States. I use to think that Garifuna people didn’t create art. I thought that art belonged to Americans, Europeans and even my ancestors from Nigeria, the Yoruba. Art was something in a museum and for all of my life at that time I didn’t see Garifuna items in the walls of museums. Eventually I realized that art is everything that we use. Art is life. So when I had this realization I wanted to own a piece of Garifuna art. Over the years some of the little rocks have fallen from the board. Having a rallador not only makes me proud of my Garifuna heritage but I also feel connected to the many women who have a rallador in their kitchens.
– Leslie Martinez