I love food. In the sense that I love a good trough, not that I am a foodie. I do not possess superior taste nor am I eager to try bizarre food. I tend to dislike most delicacies and often crave simple food like a tomato-tasting tomato or beans on toast. If I were to travel to Mongolia I’d probably starve but a weekend in one of Europe’s capitals would see me balloon on a diet of cake, cheese, and bread…oh, how I miss bread. I hadn’t really taken food into consideration when I first thought to leave the real world for a rock but I’d always been so fortunate living in my other make believe world of yachting, where a chef cooks you three balanced meals a day, so I was perhaps a little out of touch with reality already.
When I first arrived in the islands I had visions of markets overflowing with all kinds of exotic fruits and vegetables that I most likely wouldn’t know how to use. I imagined great seafood restaurants on the water’s edge, wonderful spices, and all kinds of deliciousness waiting to be sampled. Unfortunately for me, my island of choice happens to be in an area that is almost completed depleted of fish, grows practically no local produce, and survives largely on fried chicken with fries, or fried something, with fries. As far as I know I’m not living in a communist regime but the situation does strike me as being very similar to that of Cuba, where we appear to have some strange trade embargo with all but, ironically, the US.
Every week a container arrives and the supermarkets are topped up with an assortment of reasonable and unreasonable vegetables, almost expired yoghurts, and sweetened bread; something that is new to me coming from England, where bread is regarded as a savoury food. If you don’t make the hour commute on a Tuesday, don’t think you will find bananas – they are like gold. If you do make the commute, along with your wheeled coolers, shopping bags, and a fat wallet, be sure to bring your patience; for every processed item must be checked for expiration dates, every punnet of blueberries checked for growth, and no doubt someone will barter for your cooler. Once at the checkout, you will wait in line for what seems like an age as several people barge in front without even a hint of guilt, the credit card machine refuses to work, or if you’re really unlucky, as was my friend Holly, somewhere between your rotting carrots and golden bananas, the cashier may decide to take a trip to the loo. All this to the relentless beat of Caribbean Soca; no elevators here, this is the music to shop by.
Now, you are probably imagining that the contents of my fridge are quite a depressing sight, failing to inspire; and this is often the case, but now I can look beyond the sad and wilted and create something out of nothing. Living on an island forces you to cook, mostly from scratch, often with surprising results. It’s all about learning to be creative, and at times, having absolutely no alternative. On a recent trawl of cooking sites searching for inspiration, I came across a blog from StoneESoup, which at the end of 4 Steps to Cure Refrigerator Blindness gave a recipe for Refrigerator Soup. Now this is something I can relate to. When there appears to be nothing in your fridge, proceed as follows:
– Pull everything out
– Throw it in a pan
– Fry it up with onions
– Add stock, a bay leaf if you’re lucky
– Simmer, blend
– Et voila, a delicious meal for two and lunch for one and a meal for two again!
My personal favorites of this now well-tested formula include All Things that are Orange with Spice Soup and Everything that is Green and Rotting in my Fridge Soup. Now if I could just keep the weevils from the flour long enough to bake some fresh bread, I’d have the perfect peasant meal that I could happily sustain myself on until this trade embargo has been lifted. Or, I get started on Plan B and, once I’ve acquired some soil, seeds, and a water maker, learn to grow my own.