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Bottles of colorful liqueurs, natural aphrodisiacs and preserved foods line the shelves of Pappy's Product in Grenada. Visitors, who stop at the one-room building near Concord Falls, are well rewarded with a glimpse of Grenadian folk culture that few tourists encounter.

Pappy displays bottles in his shop.
Pappy displays bottles in his shop.
Photo © Barb & Ron Kroll

Pappy prepares all the products. McLeish Langaigne is his real name, but even the locals call him Pappy. The energetic senior attributes his culinary skills to a course he took, years ago, on making preserves. He proudly shows us jars of nutmeg syrup, guava jam and mango chutney.

Eventually, he started experimenting with drinks, using local fruits, herbs and spices in his concoctions. The emerald green crème de menthe looks familiar. Other beverages are unique: cane wine, green banana wine and five-finger wine. He makes the latter from the carambola, a yellow fruit that looks like a star when cut into slices.

Homemade liqueurs

Pappy reaches for a glass and pours us some ponche de crème. It looks and tastes remarkably like Bailey's Irish Cream, accented with nutmeg for which Grenada is famous. A ruby red planter's punch also hints of nutmeg, as well as cloves and cinnamon. His coffee liqueur tastes like java with cream and sugar.

Visitors normally see mauby and sorrel liqueurs only at Christmas time. Pappy stocks them year-round. He flavors the honey-yellow nonalcoholic mauby with bark that he strips from the mauby tree. The almond-scented crimson sorrel liqueur is made from the fruit of sorrel bushes, which he grows behind his shop.

Without a doubt, Pappy's most popular beverage is bois bande, which means "hard wood" — a description of both its source and its effect on the male reproductive machinery. Bois bande is an aphrodisiac made from a tree that grows in the mountains. Pappy harvests the bark, again without harming the tree, and makes a wine with it.

Pappy touches Wonder of the World plant which sprouts from a leaf and cures coughs.
Pappy touches Wonder of the World plant which sprouts from a leaf and cures coughs.
Photo © Barb & Ron Kroll

"I drink a glass a day," he says, downing a tumblerful in front of us. We sip a few drops. It tastes like woody wine that's been stored too long in a barrel.

Two Grenadians, in the shop, vouch for the efficacy of the Viagra-like drink. One tells us about a tour operator who brought a cruise ship passenger to Pappy's Product to buy bois bande. Three weeks later, he received a postcard from the passenger, scrawled all over with: "It works! It works!"

The second man tells us that he mixes bois bande with sea moss, another reputed aphrodisiac made from seaweed, and blends them together with milk and spices. "It's called Double Trouble," he says. Pappy recounts the story of a man who was divorced by one woman after another until he discovered bois bande.

Herbal remedies

Pappy is also a local expert on bush medicine. Behind his shop he planted several herbs, for both culinary and therapeutic purposes.

"This is Wonder of the World," he says, pointing to a bush with red-edged green leaves. "A tea, made from the leaves, will cure a cough," he says. "If I put a leaf between the pages of a book, it will germinate. If it falls on the ground, it will also sprout."

We recognize a prickly pear cactus. "A woman can give birth without pain if she eats a salad made from its fleshy pads," he notes. "In Grenada's early days, people also mixed pulverized cactus pads with molasses, sand and egg whites to make concrete to hold stone blocks together. Many of those buildings are still standing today."

Pappy stands at door of Pappy's Product.
Pappy stands at door of Pappy's Product.
Photo © Barb & Ron Kroll

Pappy crushes a few pointed lemongrass leaves between his fingers so we can inhale the citrus scent. "They make a good wine," he adds. "So does this black sage. I combine its leaves with other herbs to make a tea that remedies colds."

Back in his shop, Pappy shows us a bottle of clove extract, saying that it will cure a toothache "instantly." As he starts to explain how nutmeg oil relieves the aches and pains of arthritis, when rubbed on inflamed joints, new customers enter the shop.

We thank Pappy and tell him that we must be on our way. He waves goodbye, then reaches up to the shelf for some bottles of bois bande.


Grenada Board of Tourism: www.puregrenada.com

For information on where and what to eat in Grenada:

Taste Nutmeg, Rum, Pepperpot, Callaloo, Oildown and Lambie in Grenada