I should be packing up to leave tomorrow, but I figured I’d write a blog post instead because… procrastination. In all seriousness, I feel like I should do one more food post because I’m leaving St. Lucia tomorrow. The food shouldn’t be too too different, but who knows what I’ll actually be eating once I have to start feeding myself in my own home. I have grand plans to replicate some of this stuff, but the reality is that I’ll probably be eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for 80% of my meals because… lazy.
First, I want to start with something that I have been eating way too much of. I know this because my host aunt has nonchalantly mentioned to me that I’ve put on weight. I don’t think that she knows how much I don’t want to hear that since I’m in a bikini every other day, but it’s probably a good thing. Anyway, the food I’ve been eating too often is bakes. They can alternatively be called floats, depending on whether you use baking powder or yeast. Essentially what this is, is a fried piece of dough. It’s not especially sweet, so you can put cheese, meat, sugar, Nutella, or my favorite, chocolate and bananas into it. You can also eat it plain, which is what I usually do. There are food stalls everywhere here, and they all sell bakes. I have jokingly been saying, “a bake a day keeps the doctor away”, but it’s probably the opposite. They’re just so good! I am planning to use my Peace Corps service like a prison sentence and come back super ripped, so my bake habit will have to end.
Roti is another love. It’s curry chicken or fish (there’s heavy Indian influence in the cuisine here) inside a roti shell. The roti shell is like a tortilla. There are ladies that sell these out of coolers on the beach. I haven’t partaken at that location due to logistical issues with sand, but I hear they are quite good.
Next, dhal. Dhals are basically fried dough with seasoned meat or smashed peas inside. Another thing that I enjoy way too much for my own good. They can also be found at many, if not all of the food stalls here.
I’ve also still been enjoying to mango season. My host mother likes me to eat the mangoes “like a Lucian.” I just can’t do it. It requires sucking the fruit part off of the almond shaped pit. This involves getting juice and fruit all over your face and hands. Not a fan. I don’t like getting messy when I eat. I always cut my mangoes, which my host mother cannot fathom, but I have to do it. I’m just weird like that. Forks are our friends.
I would be remiss not to mention the Piton. This is the local beer, and it’s basically a slightly tastier Corona. No self-respecting rum shop will sell it for more than $4 EC which is about $1.50 US. It’s a little more expensive if you get into the more touristy areas of the island like Rodney Bay. There, you’ll find it for about $8 EC or $3-5 US. Anyway, it’s ubiquitous at all our gatherings and nights out because we’re poor, and you don’t get too many fancy tropical drinks when you’re poor. If we’re not drinking Pitons, we’re usually drinking rum because we live in the Caribbean, so obviously we drink rum.
Speaking of tropical drinks, I did try a coconut for the first time. I actually got to chop it open with a big knife. After I drank all of the coconut water, I hacked it in half with a machete (or cutlass as they call it here) and ate the “jelly”, which is the meat of the coconut. [Side note: “Chopping” is a common crime here. This is when one is chopped with a cutlass, sometimes resulting in death, sometimes not. There are way more people walking around with cutlasses than seems necessary. One of my Peace Corps goals is to not get chopped.] The coconut was really good. I was never a fan of the coconut water that you buy at the store in the US, but fresh water is completely different. It doesn’t taste like dirt for one. I’m hoping I have access to regular coconuts in St. Vincent. It will give me an excuse to buy a cutlass.
Another fun thing we did was to roast cashews. In case you didn’t know, cashews are actually on the bottom of a pear sized red fruit. I didn’t take a picture, but you should Google “cashew fruit”. You can eat/juice the fruit part. The cashews themselves, you remove and dry. The nut is covered is a thick shell. To remove the shell, you roast the cashews over an open flame. Then, you crack the burnt shell part off with a rock. I sat in the driveway cracking cashews for a good long time, but it was totally worth it. They are so good! My host sister was hoarding them like a little cashew dragon. She’s normally good with sharing, but I wouldn’t ask her to share those nuts.
Another ubiquitous presence in the Caribbean diet is ground provisions. This essentially means starch, starch, and more starch. Things like potatoes, breadfruit, dasheen, plantains, green figs and others make up the bulk of the diet. Meat is usually pretty few and far between, which has been painful for me. There are cows wandering free everywhere, and I’m wondering if anyone will notice if I snag one… Though, I probably don’t want to get a reputation as the deranged livestock thief girl. I can just see the headline now, “Crazy White Lady Seen Chopping Cattle and Eating Them ‘Rare’ (Like an Animal. Doesn’t She Know Civilized People Cook Their Food?)”. Maybe it’s a little long, but I could see it happening. Yeah… I guess I’ll skip the cattle rustling. For now.
I have also been drinking a lot of fruit smoothies and juice. The fruit is so good here. This morning, I had a guava/banana/cherry smoothie that was almost life changing. Smoothies will have to join the PB&J’s as part of my daily diet in my new home. This will be especially important, as there probably won’t be a very extensive market or grocery store in the small community that I am moving to. I’ll have to get creative with what I can find (and stock up on peanut butter when I go to town).
Lastly, I planted some fruit trees. I planted an avocado, soursop, and lime tree in my host family’s yard. We used a cutlass to dig the holes (another reason to get a cutlass). They won’t bear fruit for a few years, but hopefully I’ll come back some day to see them.
Now that I’ve procrastinated, I’m going to go try and pack (which really means I’m probably going to watch 3 episodes of House of Cards). My next post will be from St. Vincent. Goodbyes today were hard, but I’m really excited! I’m not sure what the Internet situation will be, so I don’t know how often I will be able to post. I do try to post more frequently on Instagram. You can look at my Instagram feed by clicking on the pictures to the right, or going to: https://instagram.com/kaitlinannbennett/
I hope everyone is well! I miss all of you, and will try to start writing letters to you all soon. Remember my address is at the top of this blog under the tab “Mail Me Schtuff”.