Back in Port of Spain now after the grueling 2.5 hour drive from Toco on Trinidad’s North Eastern coast. It was a good plan in essence, skip town on Saturday afternoon, have Robin drive to Toco in his new comfy twin cab Hi-Lux 4X4 and then come back rejuvenated and relaxed on Sunday having eaten Kay’s curried crayfish, sat on a beach and taken some great pics for the blog. Sadly, things conspired against me. Kay had no crayfish by the time we got there at 8:30pm though I was able to indulge in one of my guilty Trinidad pleasures – Souse. This delightful dish is really pig’s trotters soused in lime juice, cucumber, pepper and other spices. Some people seem to have a problem with eating pig’s feet and I have no idea why. What is the difference between eating any other part of the pig and eating its feet? That being said I must admit to a certain hypocrisy on my part in that there exists a version of souse made with chicken feet that I refuse to eat. I suspect that the sight of chicken toes sticking out of a cup is too much for my sensibilities whereas a pig is…well….pork..and as we all know there is nothing better than pork. My only sadness about pork is that health concerns prevent me from eating it rare which is my preferred way to cook meat. While on the subject I must disagree with my friend Kay who has made a great business out of selling food from her little roadside eatery and has now opened a hotel a few yards away built from the sweat of her brow and that of her companion Arthur who runs the attached rum shop. She maintains that souse does not require a lot of cucumber and she outrightly refuses to add watercress that I know adds a peppery taste that seals the deal on a great souse. Perhaps I can convince her one day of the wrongness of her ways.
Upon arrival at Robin’s house and introductions to his friend Marina’s two young family members who also made the trek , the heavens opened up and rain came in ample proportions. Marina is one of Robin’s lovely friends who is fun and completely unpretentious ( other than her aversion to souse) and she brought with her a niece and young man who is related to her niece. I must say ,given her niece is 16 and the young man in his early twenties ,they both had impeccable manners. I may have to reappraise my view that all young people are uncouth and unpleasant to be around. Despite this pleasant revelation it rained and rained to the point I briefly thought of looking for cubits of wood. We chatted, flirted with the idea of playing the Desperate Housewives board game, had a few cocktails, read a bit and halfway watched Mapp and Lucia on my Powerbook. Everyone went to bed with me staying up a bit later to watch episodes of Futurama before retiring.
The next morning was replete with shattering thunderclaps and biblical rain. Marina and her crew gamely made efforts to go out and ventured out to watch the young man surfing but basically it was an indoor day. I missed breakfast as mine consists of coffee and cigarettes but there apparently was a hearty one. I whipped out beef in red wine with caramelized onions in red win, a salad and parsley potatoes for our 4 pm lunch which was almost finished as the gas ran out. I must confess that I browned the beef steaks in bacon fat before simmering them as, to my mind, everything is better with pork and fat and if you can actually have pork fat…it is heaven itself.
Basically, to get a bit of relaxation, I left Cascade, spent 6 hours on the road, cooked, slept, and spent the rest of the time in a house. Can anyone explain what would have been different from simply staying at home? I suppose the difference was spending time with Robin and other friends. I am not really a social animal but I love my friends and I admit 24 hours with friends is probably better than 24 hours relaxing by myself.
One good thing about the weekend I haven’t mentioned is I managed to get some more reading of Peggy’s manuscript “Jahajin” and also started reading LeRoy Clarke’s new book ( he very nicely dropped for me at work) “De Distance is Here”. Peggy’s work continues to be magical..and I apologize to her that my time constraints prevent me from devoting a full day to completing it….and I am also quite impressed with LeRoy’s book which is primarily poetry. He is an incredible local artist and poet who I honestly admire. His book is giving me an insight into his paintings that I didn’t expect. This country has talent that is staggering. Everyone knows Naipaul but the unexplored sea of literature and visual art is truly amazing.
I will write more on the subject of T&T’s creativity soon – as I think it merits discussion. One last note, in my culinary discussion with Kay she asked both Robin and I which chain restaurant we would choose as the best. Robin…though pained to make a choice..eventually settled on Ruby Tuesday. I told Kay I consider chain restaurants a travesty and refuse to pick any as the best of the lot. She agreed but admitted she would pick TGI Fridays. What has the world come to? Chain restaurants are a bad idea and prey on the inexplicable preference of lazy people to choose rubber stamped food over real food.
Thanks to Rob for a rainy but extraordinarily enjoyable weekend.