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Life in (my garden in )Guadeloupe

9 May

Yeah, there are still some good things happening. Stuff grows really fast here. Choose the right plants with the help of a good pépiniériste and you can create an impressive garden with almost zero know-how. I have almost zero know-how. And almost zero garden, but that’s because I’m lazy, not because it’s impossible. Wait, could that be a theme to my life’s failures? Hmmm.

Some pretty cool things are blooming in our garden. We haven’t bought tomatoes in about three months thanks to the plants that just keep on giving us awesome red juicy grape tomatoes. It’s so satisfying to walk out to the garden and cut me some basil. (Ok I planted dwarf basil and it took me several weeks to realize that the plant wasn’t shitty, it was dwarf basil. Sigh) So let’s be positive (my new silent in my head mantra) and look at some pictures of life! Nature is clever, she is. From top to bottom: banana tree finally flowered! Awesome flowering bushes, awesome flowers from flowering bushes, hibiscus flower, tiny garden at the bottom of banana tree with tomatoes, chives, parsley, and some flowers. The big stick is holding up the banana tree. Who knew – they fall over due to the weight of the bananas.

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The kitsch is killing me:the mystery of the feral apostrophies

23 Apr

Kitsch: noun

[mass noun] art, objects, or design considered to be in poor taste because of excessive garishness or sentimentality, but sometimes appreciated in an ironic or knowing way.

And yet you must understand, guys, that ‘in an ironic or knowing way’ is something that doesn’t happen in Guadeloupean culture. True story. Irony is lost on people here. So I’m convinced that the kitsch I see is meant to be serious, which kills me. Which brings me to the kitschiest thing of all in Guadeloupe aside from everything you can find in the souvenir shop at the mall where no tourist ever goes. The kitschiest thing of all is the wild apostrophies. They’re everywhere. Crushed on the roadside, in your laundry pile, in the rice bag in the pantry. What are they doing running amuck like that? Apostrophies have a place. They have many places. Places they belong. In Guadeloupe they end up all willy-nilly in places they most certainly, but usually for reasons I can’t exactly precisely explain, do NOT belong. Like right by my house. There’s a rental car place. It’s pretty cool it’s like one of those little garden sheds someone made into their office – so creative and low cost right? So they have their sign which reads, “Lagoon’s Car”. Because the lagoon owns a car. Right? An inanimate godamn object owns the car. No. No it does not. Let’s think about how that could have worked out better if that crazy feral apostrophe wasn’t hanging around waiting for dinner at the car rental shed. ‘Lagoon Car’ Not especially meaningful. But still, more meaningful than Lagoon’s Car. ‘Cars that are parked by the lagoon and wait for you to rent them’. Shit! I just though of something. What if the person who put up the shed – what if his or her name is Lagoon? Dammit. I hadn’t thought of that. Investigation still open on this particular savage apostrophe.

Pirate tells me it’s to make it sound cool that the wild apostropies jump in all crazy and unplanned. Oh. Ok. So creating grammar that is so incorrect that it doesn’t even exist is cool? EYEROLL. Another example is at the very mall with the tourist store where tourists never go: A new hotdog stand. It’s called ‘Manhattan’store’.  Whyyyyyyyyy??? Oh wild apostrophies, you’ve done it again. You’ve really outdone yourself this time. I can’t even explain this one well enough. There should be a space, another s? No, that can’t be it, because why would you want to imply that the store belonging to Manhattan was …belonging to Manhattan .. .in such a weird and incorrect way? It’s not even directly translated from French even if it were split up like that – that would be ‘The store of Manhattan’ or ‘The store belonging to Manhattan’. Argh! Apostrophies be damned! They put me in the same state as when someone says something so nonsensical that in explaining it you sound even worse. …………

 

Done and done.

20 Apr

Yip. Not much writing being done! I’ve been riding the roller coaster of expat life on an island where I don’t belong. No really, I do not belong here. Sometimes in life, you just need to realize that you need something else. Maybe forever, maybe temporarily, but in any case, something else. 

“Yeah, if you were happy with yourself you’d be happy anywhere.” Uh-huh. Ok. Let me air drop you into __________(insert worst place you can think of here), Captain Zen, and you tell me how that goes. 

We’ve been enjoying our home. She is beautiful. I will sincerely miss her. Thing is, when it’s scary to to out of the house, even a beautiful house can start to feel a bit confining. “Scary? Come on. You’re exaggerating  You’re married. You have a visa, everything should be great and easy now!” Ya. I know. And it is. In my personal life. Except for the fact that – I know I’ll get some hate for this – there are too many rude, depressing, haters on this island. (I realize the irony of me writing that) 

Example 1:

My girlfriend goes to her usual supermarket. At the checkout stand, she asks if they sell bags. Normally all the stores do, especially for cold and frozen goods. They whip them out from under the register and charge you for it and life goes on. Checkout lady replies, “No, and I don’t have time for this.” Really, checkout lady? You don’t have time for this? While you’re sitting on a chair at the checkout stand you don’t have time to answer yes or no to a question concerning a bag to carry items bought in the store? No time? Too busy doing…..oh right. Your job. Which would likely include answering that question. 

Example 2:

I’m standing in line to checkout at the supermarket. At the last minute a man jumps in front of me. I’ve been watching him dance between two lines, not waiting in either one of them. He only has one item, so I let him go. After he’s paid, and while he’s organising his change, I say calmly and with a smile, “You know, if you had asked to go in front of me I would have said yes, but it would have been nice if you asked.” His reply, “I didn’t do that.” My face, incredulous, I reply, stil smiling (but now because I’m laughing), “I just watched you do that. Are you joking? It’s fine, but honestly, you should at least ask first, it’s just polite. I waited in line for ten minutes and you just jumped in front of me.” Again, like a child who believes they can’t be seen under the blanket, he replies, “No, it wasn’t me.” Ok. This is what I’m dealing with. 

Example 3:

I arrive at my car in the parking lot. Woman is opening the passenger side door of her car next to my driver’s side. It is very windy. She opens the door and just lets it go, the door whips open and slams into my car, denting it and leaving paint on it. She continues what she’s doing in the front seat of her car, and when she comes out of her passenger side – and only when she is done doing whatever she’s doing, she shuts her door, and walks nonchalantly to her driver’s side. I say, “Excuse me, ma’am. Your door dented my car.” Her reply? “It’s not my fault. What’s your problem?! I’m not responsible for what the door to my car does!” I ask her, “OH? so who is responsible for your car, ma’am? Who should I talk to?” Her reply, “Pffffff….get out of here, you’re bothering me! Go take care of your own problems!”

Yeah. Great. 

Example 4:

I’m walking my dog. On leash. Man sitting at a picnic table walks towards me and asks me when we can cook and eat the dog. Yep. That happened. 

If these things happened once in a while, it would be funny. Thing is, I have the impression that they happen all the time. That this is the general population. if I want to go out of my house to do the neccesary things, like food shop, mail letters, exist, I have to encounter shit like this. Does this happen in the states? Of course it does. Can I move away from it to a place where in general people are more polite and logical? Yes. Would I then experience this nonsense less often? Yes. But…Guadeloupe is SMALL. When things in general  start to bother you, there isn’t really that far to run to avoid it. 

Thankfully there are a small handful of people on the island that impart just enough hope and positivity to help me keep my head above water. There are really nice, interestED and interestING people here. I think they hide. Likely because they experience the same shit I do and enjoy it about as much. I’ve met some born and bred locals who are incredibly kind, creative, open hearted. These people need to procreate. More of that please! I consider it an amazing feat to be born and raised in Guadeloupe and be positive, zen and happy. I do. This is not an easy place. The more I learn the more I’m enthralled and yet ready to leave. A Guadeloupean woman I met in my visa process, who was of great help to me, told me her personal story. What left me amazed is how she explained that after she did her studies, and came back to Guadeloupe to start her own business, she was essentially shunned from her own community. She was told she was now a ‘negropolitan’, who did she think she was, that she was above them, etc etc. What a pity. When people could look at someone and say, ‘oh I want to be more like them’, instead they say, ‘I want to defeat them’. It’s a choice. An interesting one. It’s not the first time I’ve heard that type of story, but the first time I heard it directly from a Guadeloupean. 

All this to say, it’s not me, this place is tough. It is not warm and fuzzy. You will not be greeted with open arms and open minds. It is, I would venture to say, unprogressive. Is that even a word?

BUT. Always a but. I can’t tell you I wouldn’t come back. WHAT?! I know. I know. I need a break. I need some perspective. I need something else. I know we’ll move sometime in the coming year, and with that knowledge I can say that I can see the intermittent good things about Guadeloupe. Perhaps one day we could come back. But for now…it’s time to focus on a different, hopefully more polite and uplifting path. Meantime, I’m perfecting my baking skills and my three guys make perfect taste testers. We also have a new puppy (there’s an spca in Guadeloupe – see? A positive!) who is freaking adorable, which totally makes my day. A bientot.

 

 

 

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Everyone loves a good greasy bokit in Guadeloupe

19 Aug

Everyone loves a good greasy bokit in Guadeloupe

Best Bokit truck art, Pointe a Pitre

Restaurant review – Chez MoMo

10 Aug

We’ve driven by this place loads of times. The name makes me laugh, I have no idea why…Chez Momo. I want mo mo mo of this place!

Restaurant: Chez Momo
Where: Sainte Anne, at the rotary of Bois Jolan, direction St. Franccois, on the left.
5/5 ti-punch

Let me start by saying that rotisserie chicken and fries is a staple here in Guadeloupe. It’s THE fast food in my opinion. You can get it from a truck, in a high end restaurant, at the beach, already prepared in the supermarket to bring home and reheat. If you don’t take the fries every time (which is like taking the peanut butter without the jelly, the fish without the chips…)it’s not the worst thing you could eat!
Chez Momo, the first impression is that this place is CLEAN. Spotless. You’ve got your small kitchen/service window where you place your order. In front of that is a large covered area, tile floor, well ventilated but protected enough that you could easily eat here during one of Gwada’s sideways rainfalls. A large screen tv in the dining area was showing the daily news. It’s well lit inside.

When we approached the counter we were greeted with Mo’s super high energy level and kind welcome and explanation of how the place works. (I don’t know if he’s named Mo, but for this review I’ll call him Mo.) This greeting and explanation is a rare find and I was instantly happy to be there.
The food is reasonably priced, clearly listed on the menu at the service counter. We sat ourselves and in seconds our cold beers were delivered, followed soon after by our orders. Mo came by to see that everything was ok – he was at every table in the place chatting with people. Mo is like the MC of his own restaurant and he likes to keep it lively, cool, friendly.
The food was good – the fries are homemade, not previously frozen and mushy and super greasy. Fantastic.
I only had the poulet roti avec des frites fait maison…next time I think I’ll try the gratin christophine with an entrecote (10 euros for the entrecote only).
Go Mo! It was a pleasure dining chez vous

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Paneling in a restaurant in Malendure Guadeloupe

25 Jul

Paneling in a restaurant in Malendure Guadeloupe

They’ve somehow moved the decorative paneling from the walls of my parent’s tv room to the ceiling of their restaurant…two thumbs up for reduce reuse recycle.

Farm to plate in Guadeloupe

2 May

Les 3 Fermiers had been tempting me since I came across their blog months ago.  I rallied some pals who also dig the idea of farm to plate dining and off we went to the country of Hans Bertrand. Long roads and sugarcane fields, cows and lolos, the stuff surf trip films are full of when they show this part of the Caribbean. In a hangar-type structure which was perfectly ventilated as well as decorated, we were served a delicious meal including aperitif of rhum fait maison in your choice of at least ten different flavors, appetizers – one warm and one cold, main dish, dessert, and a bottle of wine for the four of us. The verdict in brief: YUM and YES! Coffee is not included, and if not for the fact that I had to drive back home alone and thought it would be best to stay awake, I would not even have had the space for that teeny tiny coffee. The price was 30 euros each. A fair price considering they grow it, harvest it, prepare it, serve it.

Clotilde and her mom were running the place that day (as they do, I assume most days!) and I have honestly NEVER had better service in a restaurant in Guadeloupe. What sweet gracious women. It’s clear they love what they do, and it sets the mood for the whole experience. It’s calm but efficient, relaxed and lively. We made nice with the folks at the table next to us during the meal, don’t ya love that?!

After eating we did a tour of the farm where Clotilde told us which plants and vegetables were which. They work a lot of land over there, complete with papaya, banana, madere, giraumon,manioc and an herb garden, plus so much more. So much food, so few chemicals. Yay!

If you take good look at a map before you go and bring it with you, and pay close attention to a couple of worn out signs on the way, it’s relatively easy to find.  If I’m saying that, really truly it must be because I do still suffer from neon sign syndrome. Can’t find a thing without them, and for the most part, they don’t really exist here for direction’s sake. So, when you make it to Gwada, hit the beach in Hans Bertrand on Sunday morning – there’s a great surf spot with a great non-surfer spot at the same beach. Then, when you’re good and hungry, head over to see Clotilde and her mom. Make a reservation though!!! That’s a great day.

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Below, cotton in front of sugarcane field on the way in…

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Above, cold appetizer, fish, mushrooms (I think – I should have taken notes!), giraumon, and I think christophine which is a root vegetable lighter than a potato when cooked.

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Above, the mother load. So good. Pork which tasted slow roasted and seasoned, and fell off the bone, with seasoned rice and a sweet banana gratin…ooooohhhhhhh….

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Above, the many tastes of local made rhum chez Les 3 Fermiers, plus fresh made juice sans alcohol. Certainly some flavors I’d never even heard of! Wow.

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Bungalows for rent on the farm! Right behind the restaurant. I bet the stars at night are incredible in this country setting. Who knows, maybe they’d trade for farmhand work for a weekend or something? I didn’t ask, but super enthusiastic agri-tourism folks might…

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Above, papaya tree!

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