Monday, February 27, 2006
Roatan Report, Part 1: Fresh from the Sea
Here come the lobsters.
This cheerful building housed the kitchen that fed us.
I never envisioned my first Italian family-style dinner taking place in a Garifuna fishing village on a tiny island in the Cayos Cochinos, a series of islands in the Caribbean 40 miles off the coast of Honduras. Well, the food wasn't Italian, but the 25+ vacationers that accompanied J and I on this day trip from our home base of the island of Roatan most emphatically were. The gesturing, the arguing, the cigarettes, the oft-exposed boobs--and of course, the gustatory relish with which our lunch of fresh-caught lobster and fish was consumed.
A blurry picture of the, um, tail end of my meal.
The Garifuna of Honduras descend from African slaves and indigenous Caribbean peoples, and were first brought to Honduras and its islands by the English in the late 18th century. The village we visited subsists on small-scale commerical fishing, and feeding the occasional tourist group visiting the Cayos. Having watched the fishermen pull the flailing red snapper off the line and observed the lobsters enjoying their last moments crawling around the bottom of a boat, I knew we were in for a treat. The lobsters were the largest I've ever seen, and the fried fish was some of the best I'd ever tasted--the flesh of the snapper was moist and meltingly flaky, the skin made flavorfully crispy by a fry in what I imagine was the accumulated grease of many a previous meal. Rice with tomato sauce rounded out the meal--reminding me once again that just about everyone in the world, including secluded islanders, make much better rice than I do. How can I always screw up rice?
Anyway, the meal made the bone-jarring, soaking-wet boat ride 40 miles across choppy open water back to Roatan a bit more bearable, and was one of the highlights of our trip.
The carnage after the feast.