Island Foods

One of the best ways to experience local foods is to eat out. This way you don’t have to slave over the stove and, best of all, no dishes to wash up. In this section we introduce you to some new local fruits and vegetables, as well as some ideas about seafood. Those who cook for themselves will find recipes. For those who prefer to eat out, we will make some suggestions. But you cannot start without a drink in your hand, so why not make:

Skipper’s Rum Punch: mix the juice from 3 limes with 1⁄4 cup of Grenadine syrup, 1 cup of brown rum, and one liter of juice (orange, pineapple, or passion fruit). Serve with a lot of ice and liberally grate fresh nutmeg on top.

While on the subject of drinks, coconut water is the Caribbean’s own natural energy drink. If you are driving around the countryside, you may well see a homemade barrow by the side of the road stocked high with green coconuts. These are “water-nuts” ~ young coconuts that have not yet developed a hard inner brown husk or firm white flesh, but are full of a delicious liquid. The vendor will slice off the top of the nut for you. It is now ready to drink, straight from the shell. These days you can buy bottled coconut water in many islands. This is a great alternative to manufactured soft drinks, but before you buy in bulk, take care, as it does not keep more than a few days unless frozen.

If you have a blender, try making blended rum punch. These are made by taking the flesh of any suitable local fruit (mango, banana, guava, pawpaw, pineapple, or soursop), adding a good slosh of rum, a good measure of ice, and then blending it. Add lime or orange juice for flavor and you can try combinations.

Eating Out

Eating out anywhere will give you a taste of local food, because even the most international restaurants use local vegetables, seafood, and fruits. Inexpensive local restaurants usually cook excellent curries and Creole-style specialties. In general, their soups are wonderful, but their desserts are less interesting.

Those who go to the Windwards and eat hamburgers deserve what they get. Better to eat a local roti, the ideal quick lunch. A roti is curried meat or vegetables wrapped in a wheat our tortilla shell (often made with chickpea flour.) Rotis usually come in one of three varieties: beef, chicken, or conch. I usually go for conch (lambi). This is the firm, white flesh of a large seashell and is absolutely delicious. The chicken roti is often made from back and neck and and maybe full of bones. Locals love to chew on them, but if you have not acquired that taste, ask for “boneless.”

Nearly every menu lists lobster in season. Lobster is delicious, delicate, and easy to ruin, especially if it is frozen and then broiled. For the best lobster, eat at a restaurant where you can select your own, alive, from a pool.

Grenada is the world’s second largest nutmeg producer. You will find fresh nutmegs in local markets and many boutiques. If possible, buy them as a “kit” with a little grater. The outer hard, dark brown husk must be removed before grating. Nutmeg is essential for rum punch, and excellent for spicing up desserts, soups, pancakes, French toast, and mashed pumpkin.

Coffee grows in the islands and many local coffees will get you up and going.

Tasty smoked fish is available in Union Island, St. Vincent, and The Saintes.

Canned and boxed local fruit juices are now becoming available in supermarkets. 

From Trinidad north to Guadeloupe farmers grow excellent cocoa. Cocoa makes it to the local markets as cocoa sticks. These contain the full fat content of the cocoa beans and make a rich drink, quite unlike commercial cocoa, which is a by-product of making cocoa butter and is the compressed cocoa bean with no fat. Recently we have seen a surge of small, Caribbean chocolate factories, most world-class. It started with Mott Green and the Grenada Chocolate Factory. Now Grenada has three more; Crayfish Bay, Belmont Estate, and Jouvay. Between Canaries and Soufriere in St. Lucia, Maria Jackson produces wonderful chocolate in a one-woman operation called Cocoa Sainte Lucie. In Dominica at Pointe Baptiste, author Elma Napier’s grandson Alan Napier produces excellent chocolate in a stunning variety of flavors. Chocolate is now produced in St. Vincent and for many years Martinique has had a factory. Cruisers can visit many of these factories. Crayfish Bay, Belmont Estate and Pointe Baptiste are in lovely settings and well worth the trip. Kim and Lylette at Crayfish Bay also have rooms to rent.

In the market you can buy turmeric, locally called saffron. It is a root that can be bought fresh or grated. It is good in curries and for coloring rice. True saffron (made from crocus flowers) is only found in the fanciest supermarkets. Hot sauces are a local specialty. Many different brands are for sale and they make good gifts.

Most islands have producers that pack good local peanuts and cashews in recycled beer bottles.

Tropical Leaves, Fruits, & Roots

This is an introduction to some foods you may not be used to ~ not a complete list of what is available.

Breadfruit, plentiful and inexpensive year round, is a savior to the traveler on a budget. Originally from the Pacific, breadfruit was imported to the Caribbean by Captain Bligh for the planters as a cheap food for slaves (they awarded him 5,000 pounds for his effort). It arrived late because of the mutiny. Watch it carefully or it will cause you grief, too. It remains nice and firm for a day or two, but when it decides to go soft and rotten, it can do so almost as quickly as Bligh could order a keel hauling. (I refer here to the legendary Captain Bligh, not the real Bligh, who was a lieutenant at the time of the mutiny and moderate with punishments.) Best to cook your breadfruit first and store it after. Boil it (40 minutes in an ordinary pot or pressure cook for 10) or bake it in the oven (about 40 minutes). It will now store for some days in an icebox or fridge. Treat it like potato: mash it, cut slices off and fry it, use it in salad or stews. Mash it together with an egg and some cooked fish, season, then fry to make delicious fish cakes. Buy one for a barbecue and cook it on the embers of a dying fire till you can slide a thin sliver of wood from opposite the stem up into the center. Cut it open and serve with salt, pepper, and lashings of butter. Try making breadfruit like mashed potato, but mash with coconut milk instead of cow’s milk. Cover with grated cheese, and brown.

 

Coconuts are nutritious, cheap and really cool. What other seed can cross an ocean in its own shell? Many years ago I heard stories of wrecked sailors starving on desert islands because, having seen brown-husked coconuts in the supermarket, they could not recognize the real item, with its green outer shell, on the tree. Coconut milk (not to be confused with coconut water) is often used in Caribbean cooking much as one would use cream where cows are more plentiful than palm trees. These days you can buy dried and canned coconut milk ~ or you can make it yourself:

Buy an older “ flesh nut” ~ one of the brown ones you buy in the market. Grate the flesh, add any water from the nut, and add ordinary water till it is covered. Leave it for a few minutes, then squeeze the juices from the flesh into the water. Sieve, and throw out the dry flesh. The creamy liquid is coconut milk.

Coconut, especially coconut oil, is a saturated fat and when I first came to the islands, the guidelines would tell you not to touch it (maybe to make way for other manufactured fats and oils). The factories that produced it did not do so in the best way. It was made from copra (rotting coconut) an then refined to get rid of the “off” flavor. These factories are gone, but many people sell their oil in the market. The quality varies: usually if you can take a smell you can tell. It should have a great coconut smell, and not too a strong burnt smell.

Then suddenly coconut was a superfood, cured all ailments, kept your brain supplied with energy, and made you live to 90. Now there is now some backlash (saturated fat). Coconut is a fine food and the oil is great, but, to be on the safe side, don’t overdo it. I have coconut, coconut milk, and coconut oil in my diet. My favorite recipe for coconut is ginger macaroons, optionally chocolate-ginger macaroons. If you don’t like either of these extra ingredients you can make macaroons without them.

If you buy dried grated coconut, unsweetened tastes much better than sweetened. If you grate it yourself, you need to dry it before cooking. This takes all day on a good sunny day. Spread the grated coconut in a shallow pan, face it towards the sun and stir it occasionally. Or use an oven or grill. (If you mess up and it rains, don’t throw it out, switch to making coconut milk). If you grate a lot of coconuts, be a wimp like me and get a mechanical grater.

Ginger Coconut Macaroons with Chocolate (option) (makes 25-30, ts in most boat ovens): 4 egg whites, 1/3 cup sugar (or honey) 2 Tbs our, 1/2 Tsp salt, 3 cups of dry shredded coconut, 1/3 cup of chopped (not too fine) dried (candied) ginger. If you want to add chocolate you will also need 3 oz of dark chocolate (75% cocoa is great) and a Tsp of coconut oil. A sheet of parchment paper saves a lot of clean up. You also need a big bowl, and a cookie sheet.

Turn oven to 325 then;

In a big bowl, beat the egg whites till stiff. Mix the sugar, our and salt together and beat them in. Stir in the ginger. Stir in the grated coconut. You may need a little less/more than the recipe depending on the coconut you get. Add it a bit at a time till your mixture is not runny and will be self-supporting when you put it on a cookie sheet. If you want the chocolate option, take a pan and put

in the coconut oil, and the chocolate (break it up) and heat gently till all is melted. Stir this into the mix.

Cover the cookie tray with parchment paper and put heaped teaspoon dollops of the mix a on the tray. You can put them very close together. Put them in the oven and cook till they brown up nicely (10-15 minutes).

I use coconut oil as the main ingredient for skin cream. To get it to a perfect consistency for the Caribbean, fill a glass jar half full of coconut oil, then add about 20 % bees wax. Boil a saucepan of water and put the jar in to melt the beeswax. Remove from the heat and, as it cools, beat hard, adding about 10% water, bit by bit. You need to keep beating it from time to time till it goes into a cream. If you do not like the smell of coconut, use refined coconut oil.

Callaloo, an elephant-ear-shaped green leaf (the leaf of the dasheen), grows on wet ground such as the banks of small streams. It is plentiful, year round, inexpensive, and available as bundles of leaves or in bags, chopped and prepared for cooking. If you get the leaves with their stems, it is necessary to remove the skin from the stem and from the center vein. Always boil callaloo for 30 minutes. Eating it raw or under-cooked has much the same effect on your mouth and throat as one imagines chewing on raw berglass would have. The discomfort is temporary. Callaloo makes a wonderful soup and if you do not cook it for yourself, eat it in a restaurant at the first available opportunity. To use callaloo as a vegetable, boil it with a little salt for at least 30 minutes. Like spinach, it boils down to very little.

Callaloo Soup, 1⁄2 lb chopped bacon, 1 pint water, 1⁄4 lb peeled shrimp, 2 bunches prepared callaloo (about 1 lb), 5 sliced okras, 1 sliced onion, 1⁄2 oz butter, salt, pepper, garlic, thyme, and hot sauce to taste.

Fry the bacon and onion in butter, drain off excess fat. Add callaloo, okras, water, and seasoning. Boil for 40 minutes, then add peeled shrimp. Cook a little longer. Blend, then serve.

If it easily comes to hand, adding half a cup of pumpkin with the main ingredients makes it thicker.

To the uninitiated, Plantains, bananas, bluggoes, and figs all look just like bananas. But try putting a plantain in a banana daiquiri and you will soon know the difference. Eating (or dessert) bananas, the kind you most often meet at home, are a major Caribbean crop, but they taste much better when eaten here as they are naturally ripened. You will also find other cultivars such as the dessert fig, which can have an almost strawberry flavor.

Regular dessert bananas also make a starchy vegetable. Use them when full in size, but still green. Peel them, chop them, and drop them into boiling water (or add to stews). Bluggoes are used the same way, but they have less sugar and cannot be eaten raw.

Plantains are cooked when they are yellow and ripe. (some black on them is fine.) Split them down the middle and fry them gently in butter till they turn quite brown when they become sweet and caramelized. They make a perfect complement to any kind of fish. You can also chop them up and add them to stews or bake them. Whatever you do, they taste good ~ unless you try eating them raw.

Ask the market ladies to make sure you are getting the kind of banana that you want. If you buy a whole branch of bananas you will find that they all ripen at once. When you get tired of just eating them raw, try the following:

Skipper’s Banana Flambe (for 4): 4 bananas, 1⁄2 cup dark rum, 1⁄2 cup fresh orange juice, 2 Tbsp. brown sugar, a slosh of white rum or vodka, seasoning of nut- meg, cinnamon, and allspice.

Split the bananas lengthwise in two and put in a frying pan, add the brown rum and orange juice, sprinkle on the sugar and spices, and simmer for about 5 minutes. Pour on the white rum and ignite. (If using vodka, you will have to warm it gently in a pan first.)

Bananas Celeste from Leyritz Plantation, (for 4): 6 oz cream cheese, 1⁄4 cup brown sugar, 1⁄2 Tsp cinnamon, 4 Tbsp. unsalted butter, 1⁄4 cup heavy cream (tinned is OK), 1⁄4 Tsp cinnamon, 4 large bananas, peeled and split in half.

Mix the first 3 ingredients. Saute bananas in butter. Lay 4 halves in a buttered baking dish, spread with half of mix then add the remaining 4 halves and the rest of the mix. Pour cream over and bake at 350° for 15 minutes. Sprinkle with remaining cinnamon and serve hot.

The local pumpkin is nothing like the North American halloween monster. It is green and yellow, with an orange red pulp that is akin to butternut squash. It keeps a long time unopened and is both versatile and tasty. Remove the seeds before cooking. Boil or bake untill soft and serve with butter, or boil and mash with seasoning (include a little nutmeg) and a little orange juice. If you want to make a meal out of a pumpkin, slice it longways down the middle and bake it. While it is cooking, fry onion, christophene, tomato, and any leftovers you might have, melt in a quarter pound of cream cheese, and stuff the cooked pumpkin with this mixture. Pumpkin makes a delicious soup. Try it in a restaurant or make it yourself.

West Indian Pumpkin Soup: small pumpkin, 1 chopped onion, 1 Tbs butter, 1 chicken stock cube, 1⁄2 pint fresh cream (or two cans of cream), 1⁄4 glass white

wine, salt, pepper, grated nutmeg. Skin and seed the pumpkin and chop into small cubes. Lightly saute the onions in butter. Add pumpkin, stock cube and a minimum of water. Boil, using a lid. When soft, blend or sieve. Add the cream and wine, flavor with salt, pepper, and nutmeg to taste. If too thick, thin with milk or water.

Local avocados are delicious, and reason enough to come south in the summer (available much of the year, but peak season is in August and September). Locals say you should never store them with citrus. They can be eaten as they are, flavored with a little salt and lime juice, or stuffed with mayonnaise and shrimp. If they get a little overripe, mash them with lime, finely chopped onion, garlic, seasoning, and a little pepper sauce. This makes an ideal dip to enjoy with your sunset drink.

Okra is a spear-shaped green pod with green seeds. Avoid the large ones, which tend to be tough. They are somewhat slimy if boiled, but much less so if sliced and fried. They are good in soups.

Root Vegetables: sweet potatoes and yams are tasty local root crops that take about 30 minutes to cook; try mashing with a little orange juice. Or mash with butter and coconut milk.

Root vegetables: eddo, tania and dasheen are closely related, brown, hairy roots. They can be boiled to produce a white object that tastes much like wallpaper paste. But if you then mash with oodles of butter and milk, or with seasoning, and refry, they can be pretty darn good. All the local root vegetables store much better than potatoes.

 

Christophene (chayote squash) has shallow ridges, is pear shaped, comes in either green or white, and grows on a vine. Somewhat delicate in flavor, it makes an excellent vegetable dish or may be added to curries or stews. Peel it and remove the seed. This is best done under water or with wet hands, as otherwise it leaves a mess on your hands that gives the impression your skin is peeling off. It is excellent just boiled with salt, pepper, and butter and is even better in a white cheese sauce. It may also be used raw as a salad ingredient. The seed tastes good raw.

 

 

Mangos are delicious and available spring, summer, and fall, but less often in the winter. They are harder to come by and more expensive in Martinique than in the other Windwards. There are many different varieties. Grafted ones are bigger, better, and have fewer strings.

 

 

Pawpaw (Papaya) is a lush tropical fruit that contains digestive enzymes, making it an ideal dessert. Green when underripe, it is ready to eat when it turns yellow and becomes slightly soft. Pawpaws are available year round, but are delicate and hard to store. A pawpaw must be eaten the same day it becomes ready. Slice like a melon and remove the seeds; add a squeeze of lime or, even better, add the insides of a passion fruit. You can cook green papaya or add to stews (after removing the skin).

Citrus Fruits (oranges, grapefruit, tangerines, etc.) are available mainly in the winter. The quality varies from absolutely superb to dry and unusable. When you are shopping, buy one from the market lady to try. She will open it with a knife for you to taste. This is the only way to tell how good they are. Local oranges are usually green. Despite the outside color, the inside is orange and ready to eat. Limes are generally available year round and are essential for rum punch.

Pineapples are available most of the year and very inexpensive in Martinique, but harder to come by and more costly elsewhere. Local pineapples can be delicious. Test for ripeness by pulling on a leaf. If it pulls out easily, it is ready. For an easy dessert, cut out the flesh, chop into cubes, leave soaking in rum for a few hours, replace in the husk, and serve.

 

 

 

 

 

Soursop is available year round. It is a knobby green fruit which is ripe when it begins to go soft. It is delicious, but messy to eat because of all the seeds. It can be blended with a little milk and ice to make an excellent drink.

 

 

 

Passion fruits are often available May to November. A small yellow or pink fruit with a slightly crinkly skin and strong flavor. Makes an excellent drink and locally-made passion fruit concentrate is usually available in the supermarkets.

 

 

 

 

Star fruits are available year round and have a light flavor that makes them good in salad or as a garnish. Locals make an excellent drink with them. 

Guavas, available July to December, are green-yellow fruits a little bigger than golf balls. (You sometimes now find big varieties, but they are not as tasty.) They are excellent eaten raw, or stewed with sugar. Locals make a candy called “guava cheese” out of them.

French cashew (plumrose) is a pink fruit with white flesh available much of the year. Wax apple is another cultivar, but has a waxier skin and paler color. Both have white flesh. Do not peel, but remove the stone. They have a light refreshing flavor and could be good as garnish. Real cashew trees (the nut) have a similar-looking fruit that is not so good to eat.

Sapodilla is a small brown fruit, available in the winter. You need a very sweet tooth to enjoy these, but they make an excellent addition to a fruit salad.

Sorrel is a flower in the hibiscus family, available fresh around Christmas and dried the rest of the year. Pour boiling water on a couple of blossoms to make an excellent herb tea with a flavor not unlike “Red Zinger.” Or boil a bunch of the flowers with water, adding a lot of sugar and spices. It makes a delicious iced drink.

Seafood

Although seafood in the Windwards is excellent, it is not always available in local supermarkets. The main towns in most islands have fish markets, and the one in St. George’s, Grenada, is good, as is the fisherman’s co-op by Pointe Seraphine in St. Lucia. To get fish, you often need to first catch your fisherman. In the Grenadines, you can try asking fishermen in camps or those returning from fishing trips. Try asking any of the local people where, and at what time, the fishermen usually bring in their catch. On arrival they signal by blowing a conch horn. The fish is sold straight out of the boats when they arrive. Calliaqua, in St. Vincent, has a good little fish market where the fish generally arrive at about 1600 hours. If you see fishermen untangling a bunch of large fish from a gill net, be cautious. Sometimes these nets have been left out for some days, and by the time the fish reach shore, they are only good for salting. Among other fish you often find:

Barracuda ~ a delicious white- fleshed fish. It is best to find ones less than two feet long, as ciguatera poisoning is possible, though rare.

Dolphin ~ sometimes called “Dorado” or “Mahi Mahi.” This pretty fish has white firm esh, is excellent eating, and is not related to “Flipper.”

Snapper ~ an excellent white-fleshed fish. The red snapper is most common.

Tuna ~ several varieties, dark-fleshed, excellent flavor, wonderful raw as sushi.

Wahoo ~ a great eating fish with firm white flesh, as good as tuna eaten raw.

An easy way to cook most fish is to cut them into steaks or fillets, season with salt, pepper, and herbs and saute them in butter or barbecue them. In my opinion, fish is best when barely cooked ~ overcooking fish turns a wonderful treat into a dry chewy disaster fit only for the ship’s cat.

If you like fish raw, tuna and wahoo have the best flavor. Examine them carefully for parasites before eating and, even better, freeze them solid for a week or so to kill any that may be there. If you cannot find sushi ginger, you can make a fair alternative by skinning the local root (available in markets or supermarkets), slicing it very thinly, then putting it in a jar with an equal mixture of vinegar and cane syrup. Leave a couple of days before using.

I have a small freezer and hate to waste fish, so when I catch one I fillet and skin it and freeze the flesh. The head, bones, and scraps become:

Sailor’s Fish Soup: you will need some of the flesh, plus a couple of onions and potatoes, two limes and a christophene. Optional improvements are a plantain, some carrots, green banana, and local roots.

Put the head, bones, and scraps into a pressure cooker, cover generously with water, and pressure cook for about 5 minutes. Pressure cooking enables you to sit the cooker on the floor and forget it till you anchor. If you don’t have a pressure cooker, a regular pot is fine, just boil for a little longer. It may smell a bit fish-oily at this stage, but not to worry. Once at anchor, save the liquid. Throw out the solids. Put the liquid into a saucepan.

Peel and cut up a couple of onions, a couple of potatoes, and a christophene. If you have them, include a green banana, a few carrots, and local roots. Throw these into the liquid and add the juice of a couple of limes. Boil till cooked, and add salt and pepper to taste.

Add to this some of the fish flesh that has been chopped into bite sized pieces and cook for just a few more minutes. At this stage also add a plantain if you have one, cut up into small segments. Add hot sauce to taste. For a rich, creamy flavor, add some coconut milk or cream at the end.

Seviche: 1 lb fresh fish, 1 finely chopped onion, 1 chopped tomato, 1⁄4 Tsp local hot sauce, lime juice, olive oil, salt, and pepper.

Filet the fish and cut into small pieces. Put in a non-metallic container with the onion and tomato. Season with salt and pepper. Cover with a mixture of lime juice, about one third as much olive oil, and a little hot sauce. Let stand in the fridge overnight; drain before serving.

Caribbean faux gravlax: One 3- to 4- lb tuna, 1⁄4 cup sugar, 1⁄4 cup salt, Tbsp of peppercorns, 1⁄4 cup dill, if available. Mix sugar and salt, add ground peppercorns and dill.

Filet the fish. Lay half of the fish in a shallow dish and spread the other ingredients on top. Put the other fillet on top to make a sandwich. Gently place in a ziplock bag. Return to the dish, place a flat board on top (must be smaller than the dish) with a 5 lb weight on it. Keep in the fridge and turn every 12 hours. It is ready after 24-36 hours. Slice very thinly. If parasites could be a danger, freeze after slicing. Freezing does not impair the flavor.

Conch is a mollusk that lives in a huge spiral shell with a beautiful pink lining. The whole animal is called a conch, and lambi refers to the meat. If you are buying it from a fisherman, get him to remove the shell. Then hold the conch up by the claw, remove all the thin skin and slime that hangs from the bottom, remove the eyes and mouth, cut open the gut, and clean and remove the tough brown skin. Lastly, remove the claw. You will be left with a slab of white to slightly pink meat. Chop this up and tenderize by hammering. To be sure your conch is tender, cut it up and pressure-cook it for 45 minutes. One of the best ways to cook conch is in a curry.

Curries are very popular in the Windwards due to the East Indian influence. Although simple, a curry can be made into a feast if you serve it with small bowls of garnishes to be sprinkled on top or eaten beside the curry. Some side dish possibilities are: grated coconut, crushed peanuts, chutney, chopped onion, yoghurt, chopped mango, chopped tomato, raisins soaked in rum (drain before serving), and chopped cucumber soaked in vinegar mixed with pieces of fresh ginger (remove ginger and drain before serving). Curry should be served with a bowl of steaming hot rice.

Kristina’s Curried Conch: 1 cleaned and chopped conch per person, 1 chopped onion, 2 crushed cloves of garlic, 1 Tsp fresh grated ginger, 1 cup coconut milk or coconut water, 1 can drained tomatoes or 2 peeled fresh tomatoes, 1 plantain, 1 Tsp thyme, 1 Tsp turmeric, and curry powder. Start with 1 Tbs. curry powder and work from there, as strength can vary enormously.

Saute the onions and garlic till tender and translucent. Add the herbs and spices and curry powder. Blend them in. Add the rest of the ingredients and let them sim- mer for about 20 minutes.

This recipe will work for meat, chicken,fish, or shrimp. In the latter two cases, cook the other ingredients first and only add the fish or shrimp at the last minute. If you wish to fill out the curry somewhat, peel, chop, and add two christophenes. They will take about 10 minutes to cook. A little coconut milk added at the end makes a delicious addition.

The local lobster is spiny and without claws. It is illegal to buy lobsters with eggs (they sit in orange clusters under the tail) or during the summer when they are out of season, or those less than 9 inches long. Fines of $5000 are not unknown for first offenders.

Lobsters are traditionally boiled alive. I never liked that so have taken to putting them in a bucket of fresh water, where they pass away more peacefully, and then boiling them. (If you go for the live method, submerge them rapidly in boiling water and they will die quickly. Tie up the legs and tail with string so you don’t get splashed with boiling water.) Boiling time is 10 to 20 minutes, depending on size. You can buy smaller ones (about 1.5 lbs), let them die in fresh water, and then put them with a pint of cold water in the pressure cooker. Close the lid, bring them to pressure and cook for about 2 minutes.

Put the cooked lobster face up on a cutting board and, with a very sharp, tough knife, split it in two from head to tail. Serve with hot garlic-lime butter. Keep the shells and any odd bits; with these you can make a memorable bisque (you can also use shrimp heads and/or skins). This way you get twice the value for money out of your lobster (or shrimp).

Seafood Bisque: Serves 4 as a first course or lunch): Shells from 3 lbs of lobster (or the heads from 2 lbs shrimp), 9 Tbs. butter, 1 liter water, 1⁄2 cup white wine, 2 Tbs tomato puree, 1 chopped onion, 2 cloves garlic, 1 bay leaf, 2 Tbs flour, 1 egg yolk, 1⁄2 cup cream.

Saute the onions, garlic, and lobster shells in 6 Tbs butter for about 15 minutes. Add water, wine, tomato puree, and bay leaf. Bring to the boil and simmer for 20 minutes. Strain. Mix the rest of the butter with 3 Tbs. our, add to the stock, and simmer for another 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Adjust seasoning (salt, pepper). Mix egg yolk with cream in a small bowl. Pour a small amount of soup in it and stir. Then pour it back into the soup very slowly, beating constantly. Taste again and serve immediately. Garnish with left-over bits of lobster or shrimp (if any). Reheat very gently, as boiling will ruin it. Serve with grated cheese if you wish.

Meat and Other Matters

Meat is pretty international. Locals use a lot of chicken, much of which comes from the USA. French supermarkets have little baking chickens which are good and inexpensive. If you want to be adventurous, try eating goat in a local restaurant. Local pork tenderloin is often excellent and reasonably priced.