Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The Famous Boston Bay

Whether Boston Bay really does have mind bogglingly extraordinary jerk chicken and pork, or whether it is a self fulfilling prophecy set in motion by its random selection by the lazy author of a Lonely Planet Jamaica book looking for an entry, our trip to the North Coast was a good time. All in all, our main objectives were accomplished: get the hell out of Kingston for a while, cruise around and talk a lot, see some new places and nice scenes, and eat awesome jerk chicken and killer pepper sauce.
For me, the highlight of the little Jerk restaurant off the road in the tiny village of Boston Bay, which amounts to about 3 huts and a small guesthouse, was the homemade scotch bonnet pepper sauce (which they have entrepreneurially bottled and are selling at an extravagant price - I bought a bottle anyway). Each place has its own pepper sauce recipe, all enough to make the eyes water and innards contract, and all are wonderful. This one was especially so.

Labels: ,

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Jamaica's Southern Coast in Fish and Taverns

It may be a long trip for a 125cc Honda moped, but the drive from Kingston to Morant Bay, about two hours to the East on Highway A4, which hugs along the Southern coast of Jamaica, was as rewarding and enjoyable as it was sunburn inducing. 

 The culinary highlight of the adventure, besides the always wonderful local bananas and oranges from the road side stalls, was the fresh steamed fish, cooked on the spot in this little fish stall at Lysson's Beach, a small public beach just outside the city of Morant Bay.
The bami, however, patties of deep friend casava, are not my idea of a delicacy... The help soak up some of the excess oil, perhaps? I'm sure they serve some purpose.

It is a rumored that Jamaica has both the highest number churches and bars per capita in the world. Judging simply by this trip and the frequency with which they pop up, sometimes dominating the central square of small towns and sometimes unexpectedly in a small clearing in the palm trees, the suspicion might have some merit. Any time of day will find a few people with a bottle of Wray and Nephew rum lazying away the heat, the slow moving bartender chopping chunks of ice from the large block of it she occasionally hauls out of an ice chest behind the bar.


Friday, November 05, 2010

Jamaican Starfruit are really quite wonderful. And perhaps it is just the time of year, I have not been here long enough to find out yet, but they are wonderfully bountiful as well. A lot of folks sitting on the side of the road with their baskets full of fresh avocados and starfruit, it's divine.

Saturday, June 05, 2010

Fermented and fabulous.
16 fl oz of ginger kombucha fizzling in my tummy, Saturday afternoon steaming outside the coffee shop on M Street, random thoughts turn toward the ubiquitous in China and MIA in America fermented soy bean paste that I learned to love.

I became most familiar with the stinky yet wonderful paste as a condiment added to Kunming's famous rice noodle soup, but the more I learned to actually register the things I saw on a table the more I saw it appearing in common culinary practice.

Bean Paste is but one fabulous fermented delicacy that lingers on my tounge years later. Fish sauce, and the much stronger purple paste whose name I've forgotten, are also loved by natives even as foreigners cringe at the very smell.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

The pleasures of Spring in the City of Spring, Kunming, Yunnan Province, China. Along with the rain storms and bright sun has arrived an incredible variety of fruits and vegetables, from sweet little cherries and seas of watermelon to crunchy legumes and volumous leafy greens. Not to mention the multitude of meats and soy products, grilled, baked, fried, steamed, boiled, and prepared in other ways that don't have english translations, like lu de.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

It strikes me that I ought to be ashamed about the indulgence of this webpage - nothing more than the self-gratifying movement from one culinary delight to another. How is this helping to make the world a better place, I wonder? Can I truly live with this hypocrosy?

I think I'll have to ponder that one over one more cup of amazing caphe, kopi vietnam, the amazing, buttery brew that is as intoxicating as it is thick.

It is worth noting how caffeine, in its many forms, plays a part in every culture that I have lived in and travelled through. And yet, each place does it in a unique way, with a unique taste and serving a unique social purpose. Like in Aceh, Indonesia, the cafe (which, in Hanoi, seems to grace every other street corner) serves as a gathering place, a place for social interaction.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

In the Indonesian province of Aceh, Kopi, or coffee, is the drink of choice. The preparation, taste, and role of the drink within the culture are like no where else on earth. The ubiquitous kedai kopi, or coffee shop, finds men gathered around the thick, perhaps intoxicating beverage 24 hours a day. There is a saying in this region that is recovering from 30 years of war and the devastating tsunami of 2004, which, translated, says that the taste of the coffee in Aceh depends on the political situation. If the politics are uncertain or tenuous, the coffee is hot. If the political situation is stable and all is calm in Aceh, the coffee is delicious and sweet.

The magical clairvoyant powers of Aceh’s coffee may be, however, because it seems to be striking different tongues in different ways recently, here in the western most province of huge Indonesia. Two years after the end of fighting between the GAM (Free Aceh Movement) separatists and the Indonesian military and only weeks after the region’s first general elections in over 30 years, many people are saying that the coffee is more delicious than it has been for a long time. Irwandy, a candidate running for governor as a member of the GAM political party, won the general election and is scheduled to take control of the government in the near future. The elections took place peacefully and successfully, the economy in Aceh seems to be growing at a steady pace, and a majority of people seem to re-assuming a life that is more normal and more certain than what they have known for a long time. The Federal government has allowed the province to adopt Islamic Sharia law as part of the peace deal, something that is normally prohibited under the constitution. The regional government and religious institutions now seem to be firmly and independently in control with the region, without intervention from Jakarta. This was one of the main sticking points when efforts were made to end the conflict in the past.

The December 24 tsunami that killed two hundred thousand people here in the capitol city of Banda Aceh alone is two years past, and new building and homecomings are visible in many places. Thoughts of the tsunami these days for many turn to mourning those that were lost, families and friends.

Others, however, ask for more sugar after the first sip, saying the coffee is too bitter, and too hot. At one kedai kopi, a young man smoked a clove cigarette, leaning over his cup, and talked about how Aceh and Jakarta, the seat of the Indonesian national government, can never have peaceful or mutually beneficial relations. Almost every man in the shop nodded – that particular café was indeed a gathering place for members of GAM, whose military was active before the Memorandum of Understanding that was signed in August 2005. Even though the new governor of Aceh, Irwandy, is a former member of the movement, they are not convinced that Jakarta is going to give the people what they want. Full independence, they say, is the only possible result for the people of Aceh. Also, for many, the physical effects of the tsunami are still all too clear and present. Thousands of people are still living in temporary barracks, awaiting recovery funds and reconstruction projects that have been promised by the government. In fact, The BRR or Aceh Reconstruction Agency’s office was stormed by a group of protesters a few months ago, its director held hostage for a day, by a demonstration of Acehnese who have still not received the aid to rebuild their homes that they were promised.

There is currently no consensus on the coffee’s wisdom, but the people of Aceh continue to drink it, gathering in the many kedai kopi, watching and waiting. Will tomorrow’s cup be sweet and delicious, or will it boil over, burning the tongue?