I don’t know why I’m writing this story. I don’t think of myself as a foodie…I like it, but obsessing over it just doesn’t seem like much fun. Well, not as much fun as tucking into a grilled Mahi-Mahi fresh off the barbie.
So here we nine are stuffed into the infamous Jessie James mobile with it’s blinged-out chromed wheels, low aspect ratio fat tires, custom silver paint and an unusual array of mirrors, front and back. Mr. James is just getting into his patter, already a Wikipedia full of minutia is beginning to leak out of my brain, dripping out of my right ear making an ugly spot on my only clean polo shirt.
Just as I feel myself drifting off to that never-never land between sleep and awake, somebody pulls out a printout of an old blog of Mr. James’ Taste of Trini Tour in which they enumerate each and every tidbit they tasted…76 in total and Mr. James confidently states that he can easily beat that now.
And they’re off, ladies and gentlemen! I don’t think we passed one single roadside stand without Mr. James pulling over abruptly, hopping out while negotiating for something wrapped in dough, roasted, fried, or baked in brown and green, promptly cut into nine imperfect portions and served on styrofoam plates that we printed our names on in ink while driving away giving an encyclopedic dissertation on the little dough ball you had just swallowed which came from (blank) cuisine and shows (blank) influence with a Trini twist which was usually “peppa”. It was amazing.
Several of the women in the bus are TAKING NOTES! Asking for spelling and such! So is Marce! Things like the brown dough ball that I was choking down had pork (a collection of pig tail bones with some fat.) I don’t call bones pork, and the green dough ball had callaloo and was Creole because it was fried. At least I think it was fried, I’d have to check the notes, but does it really matter?
The numbers were adding up and we were still on breakfast. Mr. James was obviously just reaching his stride as it all was becoming a blur to me, the ladies scribbled away, little dough balls were put in front if me on the styrofoam plate marked JACK in ink on the top, and Mr. James pulled over abruptly again negotiating the whole time, a brown paper bag stuffed with…stuff, imperfectly divided into nine pieces and we’re off again with a lengthy explanation by Mr. James.
It was about at this time that I noticed a lot of food ending up in the garbage bag, which was strategically located in front if me. Somebody behind me, was not pulling his or her weight.
I don’t think, dear Escapees, that I’ve mentioned that I was just getting over a Trini-cold and was not at my best but I was determined to hang in there. The spectacular scenery kept me awake along with the constant offerings from Mr. James. I have no idea what number we were up to when Mr. James pulled into a beautiful beach side picnic area and turned off the motor while we all shuffled out of the van. The surf was pounding in and an extended Indian family was just finishing their Diwali obligations which seemed to consist of throwing fruit into the ocean and picnicking. I’ll never understand religions.
Ah, lunch with a lovely, peaceful, and stationary view. Ok, the pounding surf was a little off-putting, I don’t know why, but there it is. We see Mr. James making a beeline for the van so we surreptitiously dump what’s left of lunch and follow him only to be told we can’t board until after he’s finished swatting the sand flies that have snuck into the van in our absence.
The rest, dear readers, I’m afraid is a little fuzzy. I may have fallen asleep momentarily but I do remember stopping, Marce asking something like how does this dough thingie compare to that last dough thingie? I quickly realized that “I have no idea” wasn’t getting the job done so I started making things up. She warmed to my new strategy immediately and scribbled happily away. As I say, my memory is none too clear except for the more or less constant stopping, starting and the comparison questions to which my answers seemed to no longer satisfy and she started with trick questions for which I was in no shape to deal. I decided the non-sequitur route would give me a little peace. This worked until we ran into heavy rain in the mountains…oh, and I remember something about Brazil nuts and a big ugly ancient looking pod. If what I was chewing on was supposed to be a Brazil nut then I don’t know what a Brazil nut is supposed to be. I remember the guy looked like Brian, our yacht refinisher who always quietly hummed a syncopated Latin tune while running his left hand slowly over the finish of our boat then he’d sand a little and then he’d tap the sandpaper to clear the grit. TapTap…Tap in just that syncopated rhythm. No, I must have dreamed that one, but I do remember that Mr. James ran out of money and had to ask everyone to pay-up so we could continue his quest for the record.
The next thing I can recall is waking to an intense discussion about chocolate, with Marce holding court, and apparently we were on a quest to find the finest chocolate in the world. It was dark as we were herded through heavy downtown Port of Spain traffic. Mr. James knew just where we could find some. Marce looked skeptical, she likes ninety plus percent bar chocolate and this turned out to be very tasty bon-bons. Grenada wins in her book. One last stop for some average ice cream and it was home where we got out of the van 200 feet from Escape Velocity directly in front of the boat yard toilets. The ladies squabbled a bit about the final tally, which I’m told, was somewhere north of eighty.
Record set, waistlines expanded, scenery marveled over, it really was a great way to sample Trinidad.