I am a foodie, though not a food snob. Fred is a foodie too - if I'm cooking, he's eating. Over the years I've tugged him along on some crazy food based adventures and he's been a good sport.
During our years vacationing in Barbados I collected quite a few Caribbean recipes that I was able to adapt to items I could find in Puerto Rico. Vieques food shopping is much like food shopping in Barbados 20 years ago. It is what it is. Fresh fish & roadside veggie stands were more abundant in Barbados though.
In Vieques I would never plan a dinner menu ahead of time. That one item you need will surely not be available. So, now I just make it up as I go along. Some things that one can almost always count on are:
Beer - you can always find Medalla
Rum - some brand is always available somewhere
Chicken - some cut, sometimes fresh, sometimes frozen
Pork - sometimes fresh, sometimes frozen, sometimes unrecognizable. Not that there's anything
wrong with that - its just foreign to us gringos and I would love to have a pork tutorial from a
Cucumbers - they have become my standard "green vegetable", marinated with onions, vinegar & sugar
Calabazza - known in Barbados as belly pumpkin, I was glad to see this old friend. They are huge and
you really only need about a quarter of one for a side dish for 4-6 people. They taste much like our
butternut squash in the states.
Coconut Ice Cream - awesome with homemade chocolate sauce and Goya sugar wafers.
Caribbean Calabazza - Serves 4-6
1 stick butter
white or brown sugar
maple syrup (optional)
rum (not optional)
salt, pepper, nutmeg
Cut calabazza in large chunks and cook until tender on stove top or microwave. Cool until you can touch it to remove the skin. Remove skin and while still warm add butter. Mash and add sugar, syrup and rum - maybe some lemon or lime too, to taste. Can be made ahead of time and reheated in microwave. Grate some fresh nutmeg on top to serve.
I used to make this recipe using the unsweetened Bakers Chocolate. I have not found that to be available on Vieques, so I have substituted a sweetened chocolate the is readily available in the baking section.
1 bar Sobrino sweetened chocolate
2/3 cup water
1 stick butter
1/2 tsp vanilla
In the microwave, heat chocolate and water together on high for 1 minutes and stir until chocolate is smooth, returning to microwave if necessary. Heat 1 minute, stir. Heat 1 more minute. Stir. Add butter in chunks and stir until melted. Add vanilla.