You can Pickle this Post

pickles1

Well, did you think I dropped off the face of the earth, folks? You could be forgiven if you did: I’ve been neglecting the BPC for a month now and I have Absolutely. No. Good. Reason. For it. Other than the fact that I can be a little stubborn sometimes, and I just haven’t been feeling very food-writey for the last few weeks, and therefore I have not pushed myself to snap out of it until now.

White Sangria on the Beach

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“The whole object of travel is not to set foot on foreign land; it is at last to set foot on one’s own country as a foreign land.” – G. K. Chesterton

 

It has really been hot lately—in the mid-90’s—with still, thick air that sits close to your skin. While this may not seem so hot to those of you in the American South, or the Mediterranean, or the Tropics, here in my grandmother’s house it is stifling. There is no air conditioning, and only a few electric fans so old you worry as much about sparks as sweat.

Zen and the Art of Savory Cakes

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I’ve had a stressful week. I won’t go into full details here, but suffice to say it involves being an absentee landlord dealing with money disputes and general high drama. At the same time, I have started a new summer job waiting tables in a fine dining restaurant. While I’m enjoying my new physical role, I haven’t quite broken in my feet to doing laps around a dining room 8 hours a night. It’s not the same as working in a cushy publishing office. My feet and I are tired.

How to Make Buttermilk

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You might assume that being a Southerner I grew up soaking last night’s cornbread in this morning’s cold buttermilk for breakfast, while Pa was already hard at work in the peanut fields. But the reality of my Georgia childhood was not that cliché. Despite the name of this blog, I haven’t had much experience with buttermilk. I grew up in the ‘burbs. We lived in a strip-mall wasteland, where I ate instant oatmeal from packets while my Dad sat in gridlock on his way to downtown Atlanta each day. My mother was from New Jersey, and the closest thing we had to buttermilk biscuits was Bis-quick.

Back from Obscurity: Carrot and Sauerkraut Salad

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I have mentioned to you before that I don’t grow plants, because I cannot bear their audacity: can you believe they expect to be watered and looked after, like, every day? I have planted seedlings and container gardens, bought hostas and spider plants, and even resorted to cacti (after everything else around me shriveled to dust), but no dice. It seems I can kill those too.

Charcutepalooza: Sonoran Hot Dogs with Chicken Veracruz Sausages

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Like most 22-year-olds, when I was fresh out of college I had no idea what to do with my life. I wanted to travel, so I got into an RV with some friends and no money, and then quickly realized that no money wasn’t going to take me very far. When I got out of the RV in Tucson, Arizona, I started working in a gas pump nozzle factory. Yup. You heard me right.

Backyard Foraging: Dandelion Cordial

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When the Fella and I made the transition from home-owning-urban-professionals to crazy-couple-that-sleeps-in-their-car, we had to decide what to do with our entire houseful of stuff. Kitchen equipment, books, dishes, tools, books, old photos, birthday cards from Aunt Matilda, clothes, books—we just couldn’t fit it all into our little gypsy Chevy Suburban. We had to get serious about getting rid of things.

Peel and Eat Shrimp

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Expatriation is a strange thing. You love your adopted home and fit in completely, relishing the unexpected details of everyday life. The longer you settle in, the more foreign your birth place becomes. Eventually you can hardly remember what it felt like to be ‘home’ because ‘home’ has come to mean something new.

Asparagus, Cayenne, and Lime

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I am a terrible gardener. I kill every plant that comes into my life, quickly and decisively. Even so, each spring I start dreaming of a kitchen garden, imagining the wonderful heirloom tomatoes, fresh English peas, and summer squash I’ll have at the end of the season. I look forward to a glut of produce, and start planning preserves and chutneys and jams. I fast forward to an imaginary winter scene of me plucking a mason jar off the pantry shelf each night, making year-round use of my resources.

In Search of Baked Beans

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You’re sitting in a wet field, surrounded by cars, trying to keep your hands warm against a plastic cup of hot tea. Listening to the patter of weak drizzle echoing against your tent’s flysheet, you and your friends are discussing the day ahead. You had planned a nice long hike, or a bike ride. You had considered surfing. As the sky turns from slate grey to pale grey, all you can think about is getting warm—but you don’t want to be the first to say it. You feel the damp seeping into your jeans through the camp chair you accidentally left out all night, but it wouldn’t do any good to change clothes since the rest of your bag sat under a leak in the tent while you slept. Finally (bless him) a friend jokes that you could just spend the day in the pub instead of doing something outdoors. I mean, after all…it’s not the best day for a hike.

Charcutepalooza: Grinding Sausage

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So I’m late, as usual.

I’ve just discovered Charcutepalooza: a ‘year of meat’ in which a group of bloggers learn about charcuterie through a series of monthly challenges, and then report on the experience. The brainchild of Mrs. Wheelbarrow and The Yummy Mummy, festivities have so far included making duck prosciutto, hot smoked salmon, and home-cured bacon. Salivating over the thought of making  eating these sorts of goodies myself, I impulsively joined the ranks, thumbing my nose at the fact that I am completely broke and have no budget for any new kitchen equipment or expensive cuts of meat. No smokers, no stuffers, no terrine dishes, no duck breasts, nothing.

Happy Hour: Cherry Heering

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Poor Rudolph Valentino. Sex symbol, cultural icon, Hollywood star—he had it pretty rough, didn’t he? Back in the 1920’s when most Americans made about $2000 a year, Valentino made $7500 a week. Women fought over him, and men resented him. His nickname was ‘the Latin Lover’.

Mother’s Day Party Cake

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My great-grandmother Nettie, like many women of her generation, knew how to cook. Her parents were immigrants in New York—the story goes that her father gained passage from Germany as a 14-year-old stowaway in the 1880’s, though I have no idea if that is really true. Nettie grew up in Brooklyn, married a milliner (not to be confused with a millionaire) four years before the Titanic sank, and raised her children near Prospect Park.

Woodland Foraging: Fiddleheads

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A year ago I would have looked you dead in the eye over a glass of Côtes du Rhône in my London garden and explained to you that I’m really more of a nature person than a city person. Then I’d have clopped off to spend the afternoon shopping at Borough Market, or nosing around the farm store on Lordship Lane. If The Fella and I could be bothered, we’d battle traffic to get outside of the city for a day. We’d get on our mountain bikes and follow the GPS around the North Downs bridle paths, which was really just an excuse for stopping at a country pub on our way home. See? Nature.

Extra/ordinary Pork Rillettes

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I think I’m feeling classical. I go through this periodically, when stir fries and improv stews à la Stéphanie aren’t enough. When I feel like in order to be a Good Cook, I need to make Things I Might Eat in a Restaurant. Extraordinary stuff.

Usually this mood inspires me to make something French—it’s my way of pretending I’ve gone to culinary school. I spend hours agonizing over the little details of a recipe, making sure I have exactly the right ingredients, and reading through books and websites to learn pro techniques. I usually spend so long on all of this that by the time I finish making dinner, The Hubs and I have long since succumbed to a tuna sandwich. We stick our extraordinary dinner in the fridge and go to bed.

Mussels with Linguica

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Now that I’m camped out in small town America, I’m missing a few of the more, er, worldly ingredients that I took for granted in the UK. I’ve already whined to you about pancetta, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg in my mind.

I used to go to Bologna every year and bring back a piece of parmaggiano-reggiano the size of my head, which if I was careful would last me a good six months. Every time I went skiing in France, I brought back little cans of paté de compagne which I’d then pull out on a rainy day (literally!) and devour on a crisp baguette, spreading crusty crumbs all over the house in my wake. I used to live within easy distance of several shops which specialized entirely in locally made cheese.

Re-Use: 3 Rules for Reinventing Leftovers

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My friend Matt in England has an incredible superpower. You wouldn’t know it if you met him—he’s more likely to be quietly releasing dry witticisms into the atmosphere over a glass of Bordeaux and a cigarette than jumping over tall buildings. You may even relax into your chair after one of his dinners, and pat your belly full of roast pork and crackling without even noticing the small but profound stroke of genius he has performed.

Happy Hour: Ginger Brandy

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Amongst a large volume of stuff of all varieties that my grandmother left behind when she died—dishes, pig figurines, family photos, old sweatshirts with puffy paint Christmas motifs, clam shell ‘ashtrays’, yahtzee paraphernalia, family heirlooms, fake flowers, antiques—there is also an awful lot of liquor.

As I have mentioned before, she enjoyed a good drink, usually at least once a day. She came from the old cocktails-and-cigarettes-from-5PM-onward school of relaxation, so throughout her many birthdays and Christmases it was a natural choice for her friends to send her a special bottle of something.

Fool Me Once

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At the end of a good dinner, my kitchen is usually a disaster. It is true that I am not a tidy cook, but then, I’m not a tidy anything.

I just like to sit back and relax with my full belly and my Honey and leave the dishes for tomorrow. Or the next day. Or for my Honey. I mean, I cooked—right? We hash it out, settle in to read or watch TV, and then comes the question:

A Few Things for Spring


Well, two days ago it was cold and miserable in Maine, so I started making a list of rainy-day things to indulge in, but today it is really looking spectacular. Blue sky, daffodils blooming outside the window, and a warm glare against my computer screen. Yay spring!

The road trip has officially ended, but we are still in limbo about where we’re living and what we’re doing. Actually, I kind of like it. I don’t think I’m ready to settle just yet. For now we are still nomads, we’ve just moved into a house for the time being.

Ajumma’s Korean pork bulgogi

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Among many aspects of life in Korea which took some getting used to during the two years I lived there, common restaurant ordering techniques seemed rude to my Western sensibilities.

Ajumma!’ A diner would shout. Ajumma means something like ‘older woman’, or to put an affectionate spin on it, ‘Auntie’.

Ajumma! Bring me two beers!’

This is one of the first things I learned to say in Korean, but after two years it still made me laugh with discomfort to be so commanding to a perfect stranger.

Parsley isn’t garnish

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My family had a thing for eating at diners, especially for breakfast on the weekends. When I was really little there were still a few drug stores in our area with counters wedged in alongside the cough syrups and shampoos. My dad loved this kind of thing. He would sit peering at the Sunday paper through self-tinting aviator glasses while my brother and I spun around on red padded bar stools, and short-order cooks whipped up eggs (over easy) with bacon and grits.

Exciting meals from pantry staples

While I do love to experiment with the best of them, some of my most satisfying kitchen moments come from using the humblest of ingredients well. Over the last five+ months of living out of the back of a Chevy Suburban while my husband and I travel around the US, we have been a little limited in our pantry, not only because of space constraints, but because of lack of refrigeration and funds.

You may think that cooking from cans all the time sounds dismal, but with a few handy tricks up your sleeve, eating from boxes and tins can be a pleasure. Here are a few ideas to keep in your repertoire, so that you’re never stuck when you’re too lazy or broke to go the the grocery store.

Digging for Razor Clams

WA - Steph, Jason and Elise hunting clams

It was cold and completely dark. Though only six o’clock, the short December day had passed without any success. We sat defeated at our campsite, clutching cans of Olympia between fingerless gloves, contemplating the coming meal of two clams among four people. Not enough.

‘I’m going back out,’ Jason said bravely.

‘Me too!’ The Husband piped up.

Damn. I guessed that meant Elise and I would have to go as well. Unfortunately, I had already changed out of my wet, sandy jeans, which would be torture to get back into. But I sucked it up, grabbed a flashlight, and followed my friends back out onto the beach.

Massaged Kale Salads

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A few weeks ago while I was in Northern California, I was craving kale. My friend Leslie showed me how to use it raw in salads, by washing and chopping it, sprinkling it with fresh lemon juice and a pinch of salt, and then squeezing it over and over again with your hands like you’re giving it a massage. We used it in a thai-style chicken and rice noodle salad with lime, cilantro, fish sauce, and chili—with excellent results.

Why the massage, you ask? By giving the greens a workout you break down the tough leaves a little, tenderizing them and making them easier to eat raw.

Ideas like this always seem to come in waves. You think your West Coast friend was on to something new, and then an East Coast friend does the exact same thing two weeks later. This time, the kale was ‘given the treatment’ and then combined with more lemon juice, olive oil, salt, pepper, pumpkin seeds, and cubes of fresh mango.

For a third take on raw kale salad, try this one by Marcus Samuelsson. He doesn’t get touchy-feely with his greens, but the combination with gruyere and hazelnuts is irresistible.

5 Southern things to eat this weekend

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Spring is—hands down—the best time to visit the South. While New England is enjoying winter storm warnings, Dixie is basking in dogwood blooms and perfumed wisteria. To take advantage of this unabashed pleasantness, I’m headed to Charleston, South Carolina this weekend, and looking forward to some down-home indulgence.

1. Shrimp and grits at the Amen St. Fish and Rawbar.

2. The Charleston Bog—a bourbon drink for non-bourbon-drinkers

3. Kale fritters—a deliciously crunchy variation on the corn fritters from Edna Lewis and Scott Peacock’s The Gift of Southern Cooking: Recipes and Revelations from Two Great American Cooks. Just substitute roughly chopped kale in place of the corn.

4. Chess Pie from Homesick Texan—don’t skip over the body of her post where she tells about this history of this typically Southern lemon and cornmeal pie.

5. The Flying Biscuit Café’s Egg-ceptional Eggs with Love Cakes and Green Salsa—for a lazy Sunday brunch.

(Photo by Lisa Fain at Homesick Texan)

Hedgehogs and Yellowfeet

Mushrooms

As you may have guessed by now, I get very excited about foraging for food. I’m not very good at it, and know next to nothing, but I feel exponentially more satisfied by a meal produced from gathered ingredients than I do about one from the supermarket.

Recently I stayed with my friend Leslie in Northern California. The natural resources there are incredible: one look at the local co-op reveals a finer produce selection than any I’ve seen, and every single tag shows the local farm on which it was produced. As another friend says, ‘California is the France of America.’ And you know how I feel about France.

One day Leslie and I took a hike through the woods and came across something unexpected. Last time I checked, February was not ideal mushroom season but on this particular day, after a picnic of stupidly good bread, salami, and goat’s cheese eaten on top of a lush green mountain, we got lucky. There under a clump of black soil, Leslie spotted a flash of orange. It was a massive chanterelle.

It was dusk and getting hard to see, but we spent another hour tromping around the woods looking for more. Unfortunately only one more fungus revealed itself, making a rather meager side dish for four adults that night.

Even still, we couldn’t quite shake the thrill of the hunt. A few days later Leslie and the husband and I went for a hike through the redwoods. That’s the sort of thing you get to do whenever you feel like it around those parts. We took a mushroom identification book with us called All That the Rain Promises and More: A Hip Pocket Guide to Western Mushrooms, not expecting to see much but just looking forward to the idea of looking.

Eventually we found a hedgehog. They’re pretty cute, as the name would suggest, with funny little gills on the underside of the cap that look like the teeth of a plastic comb. The book said it was good eating, so we put it in a plastic bag and went on our way.

Next we found a yellowfoot, which apparently grows near hedgehogs, and lucky for us is also very tasty. Once we had seen our first examples, we couldn’t stop seeing them. Hedgehogs and yellowfeet were everywhere, in clumps of tree roots, spreading out through the undergrowth of the forest. We were like three little kids, running around the woods, screaming ‘I found another one!’ every few seconds.

That night we made a wild mushroom and butternut squash risotto. If you can’t make a basic risotto with your eyes closed, I encourage you to learn how. It’s a perfect way of showcasing one or two special ingredients, and can be adapted a million different ways depending on what you have on hand.

Basic Risotto
serves 2

2 T olive oil
2 T butter
1/2 white onion, chopped very fine
1 celery stalk, chopped very fine
50 ml/ 1 cup white wine, any variety
200 g/ 1 cup uncooked arborio rice
1-2 litres/ 2-3 pints chicken or vegetable stock (you will need to use your judgment on the exact amount)

Melt 1 T of the butter in all of the olive oil on low heat in a heavy bottomed saucepan, and then add the onion and celery. Let the vegetables cook slowly until they are translucent, but be careful not to let them burn or color.

Turn the heat up to meduim and add the rice, stirring to coat each grain with the butter and oil. Do not let the rice burn or catch—keep it moving for 2-3 minutes.

Add the glass of wine and stir again, letting the liquid bubble away. Then add the stock in small amounts—one cup at a time- stirring between each addition until the liquid is almost gone. Keep stirring…

After about 15 minutes, taste your rice. It should be ever so slightly al dente, but not uncooked. When it reaches this stage, add enough stock to make the consistency soupy, a little bit more liquid than you want the final risotto to end up. In the end it should be oozy and creamy, not thick and stodgy.

Add a handful of grated parmesan cheese, another T of butter, and some salt and pepper. Be careful not to add too much salt, since the parmesan is pretty salty too. Mix it all together.

You can leave it just like this for an absolutely basic version, or add a couple of optional ingredients at this stage depending on what you have on hand. Then put a lid on the pan and let it sit for a couple of minutes—just enough time to call everyone to the table.

Butternut Squash and Wild Mushroom Risotto
At Leslie’s we dry-fried the mushrooms, and roasted and cubed half a butternut squash. At the ‘optional ingredient’ stage, add these to the risotto with a small handful of finely chopped sage leaves.

Island foraging: Tahiti part 2

We sat around a bonfire of burning coconut husks, passing a jar of vodka amongst us until the moon rose and the tide reached its lowest point. I was warm and comfortable in the sand and couldn’t resist the urge to close my eyes and doze as my friends talked and laughed over the sound of the waves crashing. I had almost forgot our purpose for being out on the beach after midnight, when our host announced: It’s time.

We left our fire and went out into the darkness. I had grown accustomed to the tropical heat of the daytime so the cool night made for a rude awakening. Wading slowly out onto the coral reef, we swung our flashlights back and forth across the surface of the water, looking for sparks of green in the distance. I was unsure on my feet, as usual, finding it difficult to keep my balance in the calf-deep water without tripping over rocks or being pushed off balance by incoming waves.

I couldn’t see anything, but our host was succeeding. He was walking quickly and confidently through the water, darting forward until he found his prey and scooped it into the bag tied to his waist. I watched him calmly collect a dozen before I saw what we were after: a brief flash of two lobster eyes reflecting back at me.

Working as quickly as I could I splashed over to find that my lobster was long gone. On a second attempt I just reached it when it zipped instantly away from me. After two hours, I couldn’t even lay a hand on one.

The next day, I discovered spear fishing. We picked our way back through the reef, which looked distinctly more like paradise in the morning sun. Each rock that had tripped me up the night before now sheltered dozens of fish. All we had to do was stick our heads under the water, point the spear gun, and pull the trigger. We collected a couple of big ones, and spent the rest of the morning admiring the sea life rather than killing it.

Back at the house, the cooking began. We dug a pit in the ground and filled it with coconut husks, which we lit on fire and built to a strong blaze. More husks went on until the fire had burned down and fallen apart into red hot embers. We covered the embers with large, flat stones from the beach to form a cooking surface. Our hostess had made a moist bread dough from coconut flesh, which we patted into discs and sandwiched between two broad leaves before laying them on the stones. Once the leaf burned off on one side, the bread was flipped and cooked on the other.

The fish was grilled on a grate over another fire which had been built in a metal barrel. A bed of palm leaves sat on top of the grate and the whole fish, seasoned with salt and pepper, was laid on top. Another layer of leaves covered the fish, and as they gave off their steam, the fish cooked perfectly without charring at all in the fire.

The abalone were also cooked over the barrel, then removed from their shells and incorporated into a coconut salad similar to poisson cru. We also made a salad of grated green papaya. The lobsters were grilled and the tails extracted. We ate them as they were, dipped in freshly made garlic mayonnaise.

To date, this is the most foraged meal I’ve ever eaten. At the time, I was only just learning that food doesn’t come from a box. In retrospect, I can look back on the Tahitian meal as one of the best, most memorable and authentic meals of my life.

Of course, not everyone can have the pleasure of plucking their meals out of the environment every time they sit down to eat. Sadly, I have not been able to keep up my spear fishing skills from London, or from the back of my car as I drive around the US. However, I can buy banana leaves in the Asian market, and pretend to have cooked my fish over a barrel….



Whole Fish in Banana Leaves

banana leaves
1 whole fish, any kind you like
salt and pepper
olive oil

Rinse the fish inside and out and dry thoroughly with paper towels. Rub a little olive oil on all sides and season with ground pepper and sea salt. Banana leaves are available in Asian grocery stores (in the freezer, though sometimes fresh as well); lay out several leaves on a baking tray, overlapping the ends like fish scales to make one large leafy surface. Lay the fish on top, and then wrap each leaf over the fish to make a giant envelope. You can either pin the opening together with toothpicks, or flip the whole package over so that the open ends of the leaves are secured under the weight of the fish.

Bake at 375 F/ 190 C. Cooking time will vary depending on the size of your fish, but I’d give it 20 minutes to begin with and then check doneness by opening one side of the leaves and sticking a knife in the fish. It is done when the flesh is just barely opaque in the center of the thickest part. Let the whole package rest on the counter for a few minutes while you get everything to the table.

This is a great method for presentation. Bring the whole wrapped fish to the table and then cut a slit down the top center of the banana leaves with scissors, and fold back the leaves to reveal the cooked fish. People are always impressed with this. You can make any sauce you like to be served separately, or just eat the fish plain with a squeeze of lemon or lime juice.

Tahiti, part 1

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Why do you love food? I can only assume that if you are reading this, you have a special interest beyond the mechanics of just staying alive. I’m guessing that like me, you’ve had some specific experiences that sparked a passion in you. Like me, your best memories are inseparable from your best meals.

When I was 19, I spent a summer in Tahiti. I was too self-absorbed at the time to fully appreciate how unlikely a statement that would one day be, but however it happened, the stars aligned just so and when the opportunity came up I was fortunate enough to have a mother who said ‘YES! You should do that!’ Thanks, Mom.

During this amazing summer I island-hopped, worked on a pearl farm, stayed with local families, and shook palm trees to dislodge my afternoon snacks. I had some pretty incredible food experiences there. In the city there were French influences everywhere, bakeries and patisseries where coffee-skinned ladies in bright tropical-print frocks would load up their bags with fresh baguettes for the day. On the more remote islands we looked no further than the environment for each meal, pulling up dinners from the sea.

I would say that up to this point I loved eating and was interested in food and cooking, but I had never had a real life-changing moment over the contents of a meal. I was in Tahiti the first time I looked at the plate in front of me and knew, deep in my core, that I was alive in the world.

One of the families my companions and I stayed with consisted of an American man who had married his Tahitian wife when they were just 17, and their teenage son. They built their own house on stilts in the lagoon around Huahine, which you approached from the main part of the island by boat, parking in the watery ‘garage’ on the side of the house. In addition to the pearl farming which was their bread and butter (and likewise the main industry of every household on the island), they were potters, they dabbled in selling the Tahitian noni plant to American health food stores, and they kept bees.

I don’t know why I took the rest of this in stride but the bee thing really fascinated me. I was overjoyed when the father pulled two bottles of homemade Meade from his bag during a barbecue with some of the neighbours. Back in Georgia, I had already attempted to make my own Meade once upon a time using yeast from the atmosphere in our damp Dixie basement. Some bottles went moldy and some carbonated, but the most successful batch was a sugary soda, nothing like wine.

This Tahitian version was the real deal. It was surprisingly light and crisp, with just a touch of sweetness. We drank it with a raw fish salad called poisson cru, something like a ceviche where the fish is ‘cooked’ in citrus. The salad was full of freshly grated coconut, generous amounts of lime juice, and a delicate white-fleshed fish which had been caught off the side of someone’s front porch that morning.

Our main course was a whole pig roasted on a spit. It had been turning all day while the party drank, ran around, played guitars and sang, and children chased each other back and forth along the beach. After drinking and stuffing ourselves fully, my friends and I took a night time swim in the lagoon,  to discover it was full of phosphorescence that lit up like stars wherever the water was agitated.

I swear to you, this is not a dream or a fantasy. It actually happened to me. Nearly fifteen years later I can still taste the home grown honey wine, I can see the bowl of poisson cru in front of me and smell the smoke of the roasting pig. I feel just as excited now about living in a world where these things exist as I did on that day.

This party was just a warm-up though for the ultimate feast which was to come a few weeks later, at another family’s house. You’ll have to wait until next time to hear about that one. In the meantime....try this at home!

Poisson Cru

1 lb boneless, skinless fillets of sashimi-grade fish*
Zest of one lime
1 cup fresh lime juice
1 cup freshly grated coconut flesh with its milk**
½ red onion, very finely sliced
1 cup tomato
1 cup cucumber, peeled, deseeded, and diced
Handful fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
Salt and pepper to taste


Start by cutting your fish into inch-square pieces, toss it around in a bowl with the lime juice and a little salt, and let it sit for 30 minutes or so until the flesh starts to go opaque. Then add the rest of the ingredients and season to taste. Let the whole salad marinate for a further 30 minutes before eating.

*I would look for a white-fleshed fish like yellowtail just because that’s what I remember eating in Tahiti, but if you see some other type of fish that you’d like to try, go for it. Just be sure it’s sashimi-grade, and if you’re not sure, ask at the fish counter and tell them you’re planning to eat it raw.

**ok, so I realise that grating your own fresh coconut flesh is not that practical. This is how the salad was made in Tahiti, but if like me you have no interest in spending an evening wrestling a coconut, just substitute 1/2 cup canned coconut milk instead.

***A confession: the photo at the start of this post is not actually of Tahiti…all of my pictures from that time are in storage, so for the moment I have pinched one of my husband’s pictures of Costa Rica. To see Tahiti, you’ll just have to use your imaginations. Or, you know, Google images.