We Were All Wrong About The Next Britney Spears Single

This is what happens when you sprinkle breadcrumbs of rumors around the Internet (and yes, we are equally guilty of this) and expect them to bake in plain air into baguettes. In other, less labored words: Britney Spears' next single is not "Inside Out." Nor is it "Trouble For Me." In the words of Britney herself, backstage at the VMAs: It's "Criminal," the last track on Femme Fatale. We were all wrong.

Popdust has subjected you to enough grumbling about "How I Roll," so we'll get right on to just talking about "Criminal." Britney has taken the super-bold step (please note sarcasm) of releasing a Max Martin/Shellback song as her new single. It has actual guitars, or something approximating them, which is in fact a step away from both her previous singles and most of Femme Fatale. The track doesn't even contain any particularly cool sounds! But as a bad-boy track, it at least makes a bit more lyrical sense than "Judas" and is more vulnerable than her past few singles, which is probably a good career move. There. Speculation over. Let's wait four months and get it right, huh?

Caribbean's spice island An aromatic visit to Grenada, land of beaches, history--and nutmeg

Chicago Sun-Times August 19, 2001 | Paisley Dodds Gouyave, Grenada--Gliding into one of this island's many tranquil ports, it's hard to imagine anything beyond the smell of the sea, the hum of boat engines and the rhythm of the fishermen.

But away from the lap of the turquoise waters lies a lush interior of green mountains, wooden houses, waterfalls and dense nutmeg- scented forests, which give Grenada its nickname, "Spice Island." Grenada offers visitors white sand beaches in the capital of St. George's; posh hotels that overlook the bay; delicious Caribbean cooking; rugged hikes through mountains; charming guest houses; great scuba diving and history.

Grenada, however, is perhaps best-known for the bloody 1983 coup that prompted the United States to invade the island. After former Prime Minister Maurice Bishop fled to Ft. Rupert, a police and military installation, the revolutionaries stormed the building. A firing squad then executed Bishop and his Cabinet. site how to shave

The United States, fearing Grenada would become a political satellite of Cuba with an airfield capable of sending Cuban jets deep into South America, invaded six days later, thus putting Grenada on the map for many people who otherwise would have never taken notice of it.

But Grenada's main attraction and its backbone has always been spice.

In the 1600s, expensive nutmeg was guarded jealously by Dutch colonizers bent on maintaining a monopoly while the British and French plotted to steal fertile seeds.

Some say the popular spice, used to flavor everything from apple pie in the Western Hemisphere to curries in the East, was brought to this Caribbean island by an Indian doctor who used the nuts in homeopathic remedies. Others say it ended up on Grenada's shores after pirates looted a ship from the spice's native Indonesia.

The tale given the most credence in this former French and then British colony, however, is that the trees arrived in the middle 1800s with local planters returning from Indonesia, where they had been taken to help expand cocoa production.

Whatever the case, Grenada is now the world's largest producer of nutmeg after Indonesia.

"This island is so beautiful, and seeing the spices where they are grown, it's just incredible," says Damien Maeder, 50, of Mulhousa, France, bending down and taking a deep breath of grated nutmeg, held in the palm of a barefoot spice vendor. here how to shave

Gouyave (pronounced GWAHV), about 15 miles north of the capital of St. George's, has become a major gathering point for people on the island, whether they be nutmeg farmers or tourists.

To the east are white sand beaches; to the west, 75-foot nutmeg trees and flowering bougainvillea. The town itself is sedate--small, dusty streets, a couple of brightly colored wooden stores and a local liquor store where people sip Carib beer to break the heat.

But what most people come for is the nutmeg.

At the 200-year-old Dougaldston Estate, about five minutes from the town center, cocoa and other spices are processed. The dilapidated farm is in the middle of a lush forest about a half-hour drive from the popular tourist destination of Concord Falls.

Visitors feel the branches of a nutmeg tree, are shown how to shave off the bark of the cinnamon tree and how to take slivers of the cocoa bean to make rich hot chocolate. The last part of the demonstration, given by tour operators, involves a jar of rum and spice.

"Ooh la-la," exclaims Maeder, inhaling the aroma of the intoxicating brew.

At the heart of Gouyave's activity is a three-story wooden warehouse where the country's estimated 7,000 nutmeg farmers sell bags of nutmeg and mace, the lacy red sheath that blankets the nut. More than 130 people work at the plant, where the nutmeg is weighed, shelled and shipped to Europe and the United States.

"It's my job to separate the good nuts from the bad ones," says Lydia Harris, 43, one of dozens of women who earn $10 a day (19 Eastern Caribbean dollars) for work that often leaves them coated with a mixture of dust and nutmeg powder. "I'm so accustomed to nutmeg I don't smell it anymore." Once the nutmeg is sorted, it's thrown into vats of water to determine which nuts have the most oil, making them the highest quality.

The next step is separating the different qualities of mace. No. 1 quality--the brightest shade of red--is used in cooking. No. 2, which is a little darker, is used as a preservative. And No. 3, the deepest shade of red, is used mostly as an industrial lubricant.

Visitors to the plant can see firsthand how the nutmeg ends up on supermarket shelves, or they can go directly to the tiny store that sells bags of nutmeg, nutmeg-flavored hot sauce and rum punch mix.

Also for sale are bags of black pepper, cinnamon, clove and ginger. They are all locally grown as well, but on this 12-by-21- mile island, nutmeg is the undisputed king.

"My grandmother used to get the nutmeg from the forests, and almost everyone in my family has worked with the spice in some sort of way," said Delta Duprey, a 70-year-old spice vendor at the Dougaldston Estate. "I guess you could say nutmeg has become part of our culture." Paisley Dodds

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