This was a great weekend for eating in St John. For the past two weeks, our guests, Bob and Betty at the villa and Angie and I have been inundated with bananas. When they come ripe on our trees, we end up with about 50 pounds at once. So we make banana bread, banana muffins, banana rum drinks, banana cakes… it just goes on and on because the whole bunch of them come ripe at about the same time. Once I couldn’t handle it so I traded them for a case of beer. But this time with the guests in the villa, we were able to tackle most of them. Still have plenty in the freezer for frozen drinks though. Our pineapples are also ready for harvest right now. They are by far the sweetest you will ever taste.
So with all of the sharing of fruit our guests at the villa felt like sharing back and invited me to go out on a fishing charter with them. I woke up early, mostly because the mango tree has heavy fruit outside our bedroom and when the wind blows, it knocks against the wall like an eager door-to-door salesman. I went outside to check the weather before preparing to go out on a boat and stared and stood in awe looking through the mangoes at the sunrise over the sea.
The day was mostly without fish (captain said because of the moon), but we did catch a nice tuna. Bob and Betty, and their son Ray are experienced fisher folks, and had a great time even without the bounty we all hoped. They gave me some of the fish, and we made plans to meet at the food fair and festival coronation the next day.
The carnival starts out with lots of different events, one of which is the food fair. It’s a lively scene, with steel pan bands, reggae bands and calypso bands playing between not so important speeches that are given the highest of importance.
(Just an example of how important carnival is down here; The Virgin Islands will be drafting it’s own constitution during the next year and a half. In a public service announcement about the election of the delegates, a high official told the masses “we need to take this as serious as carnival”) this years carnival theme was announced, “a mix of cultures”. Quite nice, as there are people living in St John are from all over the Caribbean and the United States. It definitely gives me a smile though as last years theme was “a cultural mix.” For a carnival committee that takes themselves so seriously… I just wish I was at that meeting when they decided on the new theme.
The food was amazing though; conch with butter sauce, whelks in stew, mutton curry, Caribbean bbq chicken and ribs, chicken, beef and salt fish pates, dove pork, Johnny cakes, pineapple pies, coconut tarts, passion fruit juice, tofu wraps with fried cauliflower, homemade ice cream, garlic fried chicken, and everything comes with rice and pigeon peas. Angie and wiggled our way through the crowd, trying to decide as all portions are big enough for a couple of meals, as the cool sounds of steel pan orchestra spread though the sky. Not too much though, I had fresh tuna to eat at home.
After a quick stop for a swim in the ocean and a nap, we went by Josephine’s organic gardens to get the rest of what we needed for dinner; fresh arugula and herbs. I picked a mango off of our tree and we were ready to go. We seared the tuna with the mango, fresh parsley, lemon, olive oil and balsamic vinegar, and some local honey to just past rare. Sliced it thin to show the fresh ruby red pink meat and laid it over a locally grown arugula salad tossed with mango strips. I felt ultimately self sufficient (as an island) knowing that the whole day, nearly everything we ate was grown here or locally caught. Relaxing now, proud of our island for its bounty of beauty, culture, and all things fresh, we set in to prepare for a busy couple of weeks partying at carnival.