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Jamaica - The Gleaner - Wednesday, February 20th 2003

This story is the go local Jamaica web site for the Manchester. Please check out this and other interesting stories at http://www.go-mandeville.com/

You’ve heard that the devil finds work for idle hands. What you probably haven’t heard is that when Edward ‘Blackie’ Christian found himself with nothing to do after leaving New forest All Age School in Manchester, he decided to start a fried fish and dumpling affair between himself and the fisherman at Alligator Pond fishing village in Manchester.

The affair has since blossomed into a sophisticated seafood yard by the seaside, just above the Alligator Pond town square. Complete with wooden benches in brightly painted thatched roof shacks, ‘Little Ochie’ as the place is now called, is a favorite hang out spot for fish patrons from all over the island.

A built up boat with steps leading up, contains a crude wooden table that is both a fascinating site and an efficient additional seating facility.

One patron testifies that she knows people who journey from Kingston and Savanna-la-Mar to satisfy their lunchtime appetites with delectable dishes cooked up by Blackie and his crew.

When the go-local team stopped by, fish was being fried, brown stewed, steamed and roasted. We tried most of the above with steamed bammy and festival. Except that the bammy was a bit ‘too hard to handle’, the meal was delicious. The steamed parrot was served with potatoes a-plenty in a sauce made rich with pumpkins and carrots. Okras did not accompany the steam fish but perhaps that was a Manchesterian twist and the meal was still sumptuous without it. The business which ‘Blackie’ started as a solo effort back in 1989, has since expanded and now provides employment for 10 people.

His mother, who works in the bar, unconsciously cocks her head as she proudly declares , “Is me son you know.” She has every right to be proud.

‘Blackie’ remains a humble man though, for in spite of the success that the business enjoys, his place is still in the kitchen with his other chefs. He is looking towards expanding now and plans to build accommodations next door for visitors who would like to spend a night or two by the sea with great seafood that is always available. Blackie says the business has grown because he’s invested “everything,” including his time and his means into making it work.

The name ‘Little Ochie’, as you no doubt are wondering, does have some relation to Ocho Rios in St. Ann. A drunkard coined the name one rainy day to fit what he thought was a social atmosphere which first resembled that of the tourist town Ocho Rios, where people of different backgrounds mix and mingle in a different manner.