November 29, 1999
This is the kind of stuff you get to read when your life slows down.
I chanced on it while waiting to do email at the local cybercafe and picked up a free copy of LifeLine, the newsletter of VISAR, the Virgin Islands Search and Rescue. They're paramedics who operate at sea on a floating ambulance called Spirit..
Aside from feeling this woman's pain (not to mention embarrassment), as a former reporter I recognized this was a tough writing assignment, one I would not have envied. I commend whoever did it on the delicacy and creativity of the descriptive material. And, it also alerted me to yet another danger at sea!
In other spare time, I've also been trying to imagine those bandaging techniques. Gary has hinted in his spare time he has some interest in recreating them.
On another unscheduled moment, while actually ambling through a local gallery I came upon an inventively assembled paper collage calligraphied with this quote from Apollinaire:
I connected instantly on a gut level. For me it captures the essence of this ne w lifestyle choice of ours. I couldn't leave it behind. Soon, guests will have an opportunity to mull this thought over and think of its possible application to their lives, since it's now located in a prominent place on the boat: the starboard head. Speaking of gut-level, we've had some restaurant wins recently. First, on December first, actually, in Road Town, Tortola, we had dinner at a superior local food spot for native BBQ and teriffic fish: C & F Restaurant -- ask any cabdriver, we were told. (Now if every hack is familiar with a restaurant, that means it's what the locals eat at prices the tourist pays. So it turned out to be pricy, but at least it wasn't the gloppy substitute for local fare that the tourist usually gets.) Off to the rear, but nevertheless the restaurant's primary piece of dicor, is a big, smoking, black barrel barbecue, stoked by the proprietor, a jolly white-aproned black man with a piano-keyboard smile named Clarence (the C of C&F, though we never found out who the F is.) The BBQ itself was reminiscent of two of our old favorites: the Mississippi Ribs, alas, now-defunct, which sat amid the housing projects in Rosedale, Queens and the little roadside joint our friend, Ken, took us to, nestled in the lush green Virginia hills, just outside Washington DC.
Clarence issued out crisp, charred baby backs and chicken from the massive grill, and from the kitchen big hunks of mahi-mahi and swordfish prepared island style, with onions and lime and possibly coconut milk as sweetener. There were also tasty appetizers: scallops or conch seviche-style, marinated in lime juice and conch fritters, hard-crusted with soft, pappy centers.
... saw the end of our search for the perfect hamburger: at Duffy's Love Shack, in Red Hook, St. Thomas. A burger that even met or surpassed Gary's belov ed Greasy Nick's on Broadway, which may or may not actually be officially called "Greasy" Nick's.) The Duffy chopmeat was flavorful and sweet; the consistency crumbly without falling apart. No cardboard look or aftertaste. Moreover, I didn't even have to order it "Really, really, really rare and if it isn't I promise I'm sending it back." A single, trusting "rare" (see how relaxed I've gotten living this life) sufficed to have it arrive perfectly done, yet even charred on the outside. The other Duffy must is the grilled mahi-mahi sandwich. The fish is thick, charred like a hamburger on the grill. It's blackened, but not with the burn-your-mouth-out jerk seasoning that proliferates in these Caribbean islands.
Our poor, rich friend friend, Carolyn, had a quick lesson in this fiery fare the other night at C&F. Carolyn comes from Maine via Westport and her experience of waterfront dining is more limited to the Saugatuck Yacht Club, where the martini is king and linen napkins reign. Or, more recently, a typical Somes Sound lobster trap, where the primary flavoring ingredient is the of cup of melted butter.
Completely unskilled in native or ethnic eating, Carolyn's milieu is not, never has been (and probably now never will be) the pier-end greasy spoon. (I already knew this because she'd never even heard of Zout, stain remover to the gourmand and glutton.) So it came as no surprise to me that Carolyn mistook the bottle of clear-yellow liquid in the center of the table for the salad dressing and, before I could even warn her of her impending doom, proceeded to drench her iceberg-lettuce salad in it. Not only was it the restaurant's signature hot sauce, but a particularly virulent strain of it, the kind that seems to increase its potency in combination with one's taste buds and digestive enzymes.
Had Carolyn any experience in this venue, the onions and red peppers floating about the jar were a dead giveaway. From the looks of it, she needed the eqivalent of the entire Westport fire department to quell the burning, but she had to settle for some large pinches of sugar, which, it turns out, is a remarkably efficient antidote, the kind only the local shaman is familiar with. Of course, compounding the whole painful event is the fact that Carolyn is a well-bred, upper-crust, stiff-upper-lip Gentile, which means she suffered in well-mannered silence, barely quivering, for as long as she could. Had she been Jewish, she'd instantly have been writhing in agony, shrieking for help, threatening to sue and dispatc hing her husband to the nearest pharmacy.
Now I hope my fellow JAPs will take this last with a grain of salt (and a pinch of sugar.)