Adventures of s/v WILD HAIR


Our land life took on form, solidity, routine. We had mastery of a limited set of skills. We had habitual expectations of others and ourselves. Going sailing, we let go of our attachments to our roles, views, and rituals. We persist because we are growing in this shapeless and dynamic world.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

The French Island of St Martin

From our anchorage under the “Witches Tit” (a hillside shapped guessed it), we take the dinghy to shore for a visit to the Wednesday market in French St Martin. Here, the Dominican Farmers come a sell their produce and fish. I am determined to buy at least one of every food that is foreign to me and learn from the vendor how to cook it. I take photos, draw pictures, and take notes. So, tonight's dinner is:

 Trigger Fish
 Cow Fish
 Dasheen
 and salad with island cucumber and tomatoes.

The trigger fish was "cleaned" when we bought it (no guts, no skin). But it looked hardly appetizing, reminiscent of my brother’s childhood educational model of a human without skin. The eyes were in place on the head and the meat and fins were all present. It wasn't exactly "restaurant ready." I broiled it with butter. It had a good flavor but it was very tough. Cooked through we could hardly get it off the bone. But, kitty was happy to help clean up the remains. My conclusion: I like my trigger fish better on the reef when I'm snorkeling. They are VERY PRETTY and VERY COLORFUL when alive. I couldn't help but feel that I had done something terribly wrong to transform such beauty into...that!

The cow fish was odd. Another wonderful fish to watch on the reef (Maggie will remember it's unique triangular shape and pointy eyebrows), the cow fish on my plate was less than satisfying. The locals call them "shell fish" because of their tough outter casing. When broiled, it smelled like lobster. Cooked, the shell easily crumbled away to reveal...actually...almost nothing. There was perhaps 4 tablespoons of meat inside the entire shell. And, what meat there was had an unpleasant bitter flavor. Kitty rejected this fish outright. Strike two.

The Dasheen is a potato-like root vegetable that looks like a larger version of something you'd remove in a dried clump from the bottom of your boot. I was told to peel it and boil it. I was to treat it like a potato so I simply buttered and salted it to serve. Actually, it was moist and very tasty--a sweet and mellow potato flavor--but extremely filling. It seemed to grow mysteriously in volume once swallowed. I could only eat about half of my usual potato equivalent.

The salad was delicious.

Dinner was accompanied by a Guavaberry Rum cocktail that I bought on the Dutch side of St Martin yesterday. This sipping rum has floating guavaberries in it (native to the island) and the heady spices remind me of Swedish glug. Yet, the rum has caramel overtones. For a cocktail, you add a shot of Guavaberry Rum to a glass of white wine.

While in town today we stopped at the real French Bakery and bought a baguette, two almond croissants for breakfast tomorrow, and a strawberry tart that I (breaking all healthy-eating rules) consumed for lunch. Who knew that my absolute favorite custard would lurk just below the strawberries? I believe today's strawberry tart was even better than the 3 chocolate dessert I consumed at the same bakery two days ago.

My tart lunch was followed by the biggest, ripest mango I've ever eaten. Filling a dinner plate, the fruit sent juices cascading uncontrollably down my chin. Can you say bliss?

It will be sad to say "adieu" to the French Bakery tomorrow. Our plan is to depart St Martin and head toward St Eustatius Island (Isn't that the patron saint of the inner ear?) We will likely hop from there to Nevis and then do an overnight sail to Guadeloupe. We don't want to stop in Montserrat along the way because the active volcano makes quite a spew; we will give it a wide berth so it won't trash our boat's deck! Our goal is to be in Guadeloupe (the half way mark to Grenada) by April 11. It looks like we will have cooperative weather over the next 4 days to make some tracks.

The good news is that Guadeloupe is another French Island. The eating continues!

1 comment:

GalleyWenchTales said...

We are also adventurous eaters (cruising similar waters), but thanks for sparing us the effort of trying trigger fish. We've done lots of yummy stuff with dasheen, which I consider a "dumpling" starch for its density. Potatoes cook quicker, but dasheen does keep longer and is cheaper. Confess to cooking more with potatoes....

We blog about or travels at, which, unsurprisingly, has a strong food bent.

We're currently in the BVI headed North on our sailboat Journey. I hope our paths cross and we can meet!