Sunday, April 29, 2007

Earthly Delights

The aroma of ganja and garlic filled the air. “five more minutes, mon”, he inhaled deeply off a joint as thick as his thumb, and easily four inches long. “D’er baking right now, all da garlic is infusin’ in dem”. His eyes were like slits, his hair pulled into a fluffly little ball atop his head, sun glasses balanced precariously above his eyebrows, long forgotten, as if they’d been resting there forever. Offenbach’s “Orpheaus in the Underworld” (the ‘can-can’ as you and I know it) played incessantly on the cell phone in his pocket.

We’d pulled into the cul de sac on Union Island that afternoon with the intention of digging a pit and making our own barbeque. But when we arrived to the beach, a man who called himself “Shark Attack” was set up with everything for barbequing, including dishes, silverware and a hot grill. We chatted over rum punch and planned out the evening. I brought him a sack full of lobster and watched in awe as he pulled out an enormous specimen of a machete and proceeded to split 4 lobsters clean in half – like a hot knife thru butter - right down the center. He nestled the lobsters into a cozy bed of hot embers and slathered them with a thick layer of “Shark Attacks” homemade garlic sauce. I was able to procure a recipe from him – lots of grated fresh garlic and ginger, the venerable ‘all purpose ‘Green Seasoning’ found throughout the Grenadines and butter. Honestly, I was distracted. Yes, by the smell of the ganja – but also by the irrepressible concern that the lobsters were being overcooked. I’d done everything right thus far with the guests and I couldn’t screw up now by having the lobsters overcooked!

I returned to the table, took a sip of my Planters rum punch – sweet and strong, walked back to the bbq and in my most calm, collected voice said, “hey man, you sure they need 5 more minutes”? “ya mon – 5 more minutes”. I stood by and watched and now I just figured the man must know what he’s doing. The smell of roasting garlic filled my senses and put me at ease. Intuition, that’s how I know how my cooking is coming along and I had to pay Shark Attack my respect and know that he uses his senses too, and knows how to cook a lobster.

“You’re a popular man” I joked with him, as the can-can number played on his cell phone over and over again. He took a rip from his never ending joint, “ya mon, but I have the choice not to answer it”. He smiled and laughed and one by one, pulled the lobsters off of the bbq and piled them onto a platter. I ferried the platters to the table and served the enormous half tails to the guests, as well as to myself, and to our first mate.

I took my first stab at the half-lobster in front of me, it that was the length and width of my forearm. For one more brief moment I was skeptical, but my taste buds rejected my fear as the buttery, garlicky sweetness of lobster, tinged with smoke, melted in my mouth. You couldn’t have bought a better dinner at the finest restaurant in Manhattan – to say the least about the ambiance. An almost full moon, casting a magical glow across the mountainous landscape of Union Island, lighted the sky. The white, sandy beach shined, the stars sparkled, the ocean provided the background music of its gentle waves crashing upon the shore, and the finest earthly aromas filled the air.

Wine flowed like water, and soon – and completely unexpectedly - the ganja did as well among this group of guests whose identity I have sworn to complete and total secrecy. The lobsters were spectacular and soon after the lobsters came a plate of bonito, heavily spiced and bbq’d. We’d brought along a crock of foie gras, German potato salad, mixed greens with local tomatoes and a cheese platter of raw milk camembert, Roquefort and Chaumes, all perfectly aged, fresh baguette and several bottles of Geourge De Boufs Boujaleaise. It was feast fit for the Crown.

I could’ve shoved all the dished to the ground, cleared the table, climbed on top and fallen asleep in a state of gluttonous satisfaction – but that would’ve been totally inappropriate in front of our guests. Instead, our first mate and I cleared the table of the glassware that belonged to the boat, left everything else and went to fetch the tender. I’d say, our BBQ on the beach was a complete and utter success.

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