SAINT TOMATO PASTE RECIPE | Sharon Henry
Following taken from the third issue of Breeze e-magazine.
There probably aren’t many foods that are associated with dancing, as much as tomato paste sandwiches are here on St Helena. So much so we’ve nicknamed them ‘bread ‘n’ dance,’ an island favourite made of tomatoes and onion – sounds simple but boy do they taste good!
It does sound rather peculiar that a tomato spread be highly linked with dancing and here are the stories of how it supposedly happened.
How Tomato Paste Became Bread and Dance
A custom at Saint weddings is the couple’s first dance around ‘the table.’ Back in the old days, the table took pride of place in the middle of the room and was laden with the wedding cake and goodies usually only available on special occasions, which included tomato paste sandwiches.
Hence the ‘bread and dance’ reference.
Likewise they were once served at dances held in community centres across the island. People would go out for a good ole ‘swing round’ dancing session and having worked up an appetite, enjoyed a treat of tomato paste sandwiches afterwards – ‘bread ‘n’ dance.’
These days bread ‘n’ dance is oft en made for everyday sandwiches although they do still hold a sense of occasion as no get-together is complete without a plateful being passed around – even weddings.
They are delicious, but don’t take our word for it, whip up a batch yourself for a St Helena sandwich experience.
St Helena Bread ‘n’ Dance (tomato paste)
Tomato Paste Sandwich Spread
1 lb (450g) fresh tomatoes or 14 oz (400g) can of tomatoes
1 onion, finely chopped
1 chilli (optional)
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 rashers of rindless bacon, finely chopped (optional)
Beaten egg (optional)
Heat oil in frying pan. Add onions, chilli and bacon and fry until soft and onions start to brown.
Add tomatoes, salt and sugar.
Using a fork or slotted spoon mash the tomatoes and simmer the mixture until all the liquid has evaporated and you are left with a thick pulp.
Stir in the parsley and beaten egg and cook for a further 10 minutes until done. For a vegetarian option leave out the bacon and egg.
Allow to cool before serving. This will keep in the fridge for up to a week (if indeed it can be resisted that long.)
The tomato paste also makes a tasty dip for chips, crackers and crudités.
Try Our Other St Helena Recipes
If you’re in a St Helena mood, why not try our other island recipes and experience a taste of St Helena?
Most famous of all are St Helena fishcakes – simply divine.
For a one pot wonder have a go at St Helena plo, a truly scrumptious rice pilaf dish.
Pumpkin fritters will satisfy a sweet tooth, it makes a great dessert and is also the perfect accompaniment with a cup of tea.
Have a go and let us know how your St Helena cooking turns out. We’d love to hear from you.
I’ll never forget having bread ‘n dance with you during our stay on St Helena! And now I can attempt a reproduction. More interesting than my grandmother’s depression-era version (which mainly amounted to cooking down tomatoes and adding salt!).
What a lovely day it was too – eating under shelter from the rain! Great to hear you’re going to try this recipe out – let us know the results. 🙂
aGAIN, ANOTHER GOOD ARTICLE. JUST TO SHARE WHAT i GLEANED, POSSIBLY 50 YEARS AGO WHEN I POSED THE QUESTION…’WHY BREAD AND DANCE’ WITH SEVERAL OLDER GENERATION IN ATTENDANCE, INCLUDING MRS LOUISE GEORGE (A GREAT DANCER OF HER TIME) eACH SAID TOMATO PASTE SANDWICHES WERE ‘THE ONLY’ SANDWICHES ONE COULD HOPE TO BUY/EAT AT A PUBLIC DANCE, HENCE THE NAME. NO REFERENCE WAS MADE THAT THE NAME HAILED FROM THEM BEING SERVED AT WEDDINGS TOO…..NOT CRITICAL, JUST THOUGHT YOU MIGHT BE INTERESTED.X
Thanks Joanna – great to hear the recount from Mrs George, makes you realise what a speciality Bread n Dance really was. Think it’s safe to say We’ll go with her version of the name’s origin. 🙂 Thanks for sharing.