Friday, January 30, 2009

January 30

It was thirty-eight years ago today. It does not seem that long ago. My life could have been so small, but it feels slightly larger than small.

I got up early this morning. There’s a package in Castries for me and Elaine needs some help with a computer program. I make a small carafe of Starbucks, carefully measuring no more than I need. The prized black grounds with the rich aroma are sent to me by friends and family. I love them for that. I look around the house and gather books that I’ve collected from the Peace Corps Library. Some I’ve read while others will never be read and now it’s time to return them. I pack them up in my red backpack, put my identification and money into the pouch, and grab my ITouch so I have music to listen to during the one hour trip.

It was a stormy night last night. The rain pounded the aluminum roof and when it subsided the howling winds from the Atlantic Ocean created a haunting groan moving throughout the village. It kept me up the better part of the night. This morning I opened my doors allowing the wind to blow through the house. Sprinkles of rain turned into two quick storms. I wait for a break before heading out for the day.

I intend to stop at the Credit Union before I get to the bus stop. I need to deposit my rent money into Elizabeth’s account, but a bus comes down the street and the driver is looking for passengers. He shouts, “Castries?” I confess, I got on the bus. The rent will be paid when I return today.

There are only a few people on board, but the driver heads for the city; something seldom done. He will usually wait until there are enough passengers to make the trip worthwhile. I settle in, open my bag and retrieve my ITouch. I watch a couple of YouTube Videos, but then turn to music.

Today would have been our thirty-eighth wedding anniversary. I have so many wonderful memories of John and today he will be on my mind. As I listen my ITouch it creates a musical time-machine. Each song has another memory taking me to another place that makes me smile. How did I get here? I never would have guessed this would be my life.

As the bus travels down the winding two lane road headed for the capitol, I look out the window at the banana fields that dot the highway. Blue bags hang from the trees. The bags are used to protect bananas from pests. I see a man sitting at a table by the roadside. There are dozens of bananas on the table. This is his business – selling a few banana’s each day. They cost a quarter each.

Marvin Gaye sings What’s Going On bringing me to the early 1970s and I think about our days on Border Avenue, the endless parties with so many friends, BBQs and our backyard communal garden. We had more tomatoes than three families could possibly eat.

I first heard the Clancy Brothers when I met John. He loved his Irishness. How fitting it is that The Jug of Punch should play on this day. As I think about family gatherings and corned beef and cabbage, I notice a partial truck by the road that is overcome with wild ferns and other plants. It looks much like a planter. The truck has been there so long it blends into the landscape. There is the occasional pedestrian walking on the highway carrying a cutlass.

Creedance Clearwater Revival’s Lookin’ Out My Back Door begins and I am immediately filled with joy. It’s one of the few songs I would hear John singing to. Whenever this song played, whatever was happening, I paused because it brought out the best side of him.

Out my window a woman is selling fruits and vegetables. There is a colorful array of edible fresh picked foods; watermelons, oranges, tangerines, tomatoes, sweet potatoes and breadfruits. A man is harvesting bananas in a nearby shed. There are streams of brown muddy water from the tropical rain.

Pink Floyd plays Eclipse and it takes me to our early days on Clarion Drive. Our friends moved across the street because no one wanted to leave Border Avenue behind.

I notice shacks with tin roofs and homes with freshly painted porches. There are ferns and coconut trees and we are passing the best part of the road now; a rain forest filled with lush greenery. I look over at other passengers and watch them enjoying the beauty of nature. And then James Taylor starts singing I’ll be There, and I smile.

There are packs of passive dogs crossing the highway with skill. Survival of the fittest is evident in these packs. They are skilled at dodging cars and have learned to have patience with people who generously toss leftover bones their way. I am reminded of our two German Shepards, Charlie and Alice.

I have a strange feeling. I’m here in Saint Lucia, but I’m holding John’s hand at his childhood house on LaSalle Street in Los Angeles. I’m realistic about this. I know there were some terrible times, but it’s nice to be in a place where I can finally bring the good memories forward. What a great life.


Wednesday, January 28, 2009

A Contrast in Culture

When I went to Cable and Wireless, Bernard, my customer service agent helped me through a mountain of paperwork. There were forms to fill out, questions to be answered, agreements to make and the inevitable proof of identification. I pulled out my driver’s license and handed it to him. Bernard looked at it for what seemed a longer time than needed and then looked at me. I thought to myself, “Oh my gosh, have I aged that much?” But that wasn’t what he was thinking. As he handed it back to me he said, “It’s hard to believe a lady is treated like this.” What? He was referring to the information on our driver’s licenses; specifically weight. I looked at him and responded, “Oh, we always lie anyway.”

This was one of those moments that caused me to pause. He called me a lady – it was very respectful. I’m not a girl or woman, but a lady in his eyes. I have visions of walking across the room in three inch high heels with a book on my head and white gloves on my hands. Humm, I will probably eat a watercress sandwich for lunch. My thoughts turn in another direction as I remember that fidelity among Saint Lucian men is not the norm.

This small interaction is a symbol of the culture here in Saint Lucia. Some values they hold are ones that we might have enjoyed fifty years ago. Women are expected to cook, clean, wash and take care of the children. Women work very hard. Most get up at four in the morning to begin cooking. They make their own juice, called local juice, made from golden apples chopped and blended and squeezed by hand. Juicers are not the norm here.

They bake lots of cakes, not as sweet as ours and most have no frosting. They buy fresh fish from the fishermen and fillet them for the evening meal. Their diet is filled with starches with very little vegetables; macaroni and cheese, rice, beans and pasta with a small amount of meat and a few slices of cucumber and a fried bake is a typical meal. None of this comes from a package or a restaurant.

This is an island. Almost everything here is imported from somewhere. There aren’t dozens of car dealerships on the island. I know of one. Most things on this island are imported. They don’t throw things away and get new things. The men fix things.

When I arrived on the island I unpacked my small alarm clock and found it didn’t work. I left it at the Pastoral Center because it was one less thing to carry and because it didn’t work. When I met my host family, I mentioned my alarm clock was broken and I needed to buy a new one. Bea immediately said, “Give it to Neil, he will fix it”. I hadn’t even thought of actually fixing it – my thought was to go get a new one. What a concept; what a lesson!

Most things people have are paid for, including their homes; at least those that are lucky enough to afford this luxury. A 2005 study found my village of 18,071 has almost 46% living in poverty; 33% of children 0-14 years of age are indigent. Imagine. In the United States 16% of our children are living in poverty. Imagine. In the United States we use credit as a way of life. Here, people don’t have pounds of thin plastic cards to lug around in their pockets or purses. Most don’t have a debit card. They use cash. They pay for what they buy. What a concept. There’s a lot in this paragraph to reflect on.

Until the 1950s they were heating their irons on coals. They had mostly outdoor plumbing and outhouses. Today many have indoor plumbing and electricity. Old fishing technology using spears and ropes are still used. They are using propane tanks to heat their ovens and most homes have no hot water, including mine. It’s hot year round, but there is no air conditioning in homes. Electricity is available and reliable but very expensive.

Here’s the contrast. In the last few years Cable TV, cell phones, and the internet have been introduced to the island. With this came the introduction of computer gaming. Children are introduced to many of the same things our children are experiences. They see the same American commercials on TV that our children are subjected to. They watch the same movies, sitcoms and reality television that we do. While their children are doing this, parents are using a new device recently introduced to the island: the Blackberry.

There is a stark contrast here. Among the women making local juice, the men fishing with ropes and spears and the public village washrooms; gold chains sparkle in the sunlight with sagging pants that create a judgment by older generations. The culture is moving towards a thirst for materialism. And so I see the past and the future in one breath; a clash of cultures viewed in one step. Within this breath and step it’s easy to envision a different future.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Black Sand and Shared Coconuts

A few weeks ago, several volunteers went to the beaches along Laborie, a small village on the west side of the island near Vieux Fort. It was a cloudy day and tropical rains were likely to come and go.

As we walked on the black sandy beach, the predictable rain was passing. Some of us took shelter under an abandoned make shift shelter used by fishermen to process their catch; others went for a swim in the blue waters of the Caribbean Sea in search of the coral reef just off the shore. As the rain drops gave way and the sun broke through the clouds, we walked through a forested area and to the next beach. We passed beautiful pieces of driftwood as well as patterns of sandy eroded walls. We floated in the warm clear blue water for what seemed like an hour, allowing the gentle current to take us out and then bring us back over and again. As we stand on the beach drying off, we shared the juice in the coconuts Jeff brought.

We found hundreds of Conch Shells along with other wonderful smaller shells on the pebbled shoreline. As I walked along the water, I remembered that I used to find shells along the California beaches. Now, there are none. I can remember going out in the backyard of our Torrance home and finding shells there. Those memories aside, this was one of those times when capturing pictures on my camera would interfere with experience, so the pictures of the shoreline remain in memory. As a fan of natures details, a couple of us sat on a rock and watched tiny hermit crabs moving across the rocks with tiny colorful shells on their backs. Occasionally, a little crab would attempt to climb over a pebble. From its perspective these pebbles must look like mountains that need to be conquered; to us, the pebble is viewed as one of millions. This crab could be easily overlooked.

A couple of volunteers skip small pebbles across the top of the clear calm blue Caribbean water. Contests among those skipping rocks pass time and entertain us in a small way. It brings to mind the relaxing vacations John and I had so many years ago. Before we had our children we made several treks to Northern California to spend a few moments in our life camping and being overcome with the beauty of nature. We would spend full days on the river with our two large dogs, Charlie and Alice, skipping rocks, throwing sticks, enjoying nature, and talking about our future. We always came to the conclusion that these moments were the better part of Gods plan. Those lazy days on the Eel River, camping among the Giant Redwood Trees, and picking blackberries along the roadside to make tasty deserts are among the best memories I hold.

I’m lost in thought as I watch the little crab making its journey while climbing a pebble. I conclude it must appear as a mountainous white knuckle climb taxing its skills of balance and concentration. He falls from the pebble and quickly rolls back over and continues his journey picking the next mountainous pebble to climb. I put my hand near its path and it retreated into its shell, blending into the rocky and shelled beach. I brought a few shells home which I will enjoy for the short time I’m here in Saint Lucia. I plan on making a trip back to the beach before I leave to bring them home.

On our way back, we stopped to admire the beautiful view, and the remains of an old sugar mill, before heading up towards the light at the end of a beautiful trail littered with almonds that had fallen from the trees. But before the trail ended we saw a butterfly stopping for a rest.

Friday, January 23, 2009


A few times a week I walk the half block to the bakery to pick up fresh bread. I walk up the step to the entrance and put two one dollar coins onto the counter. A woman emerges from the back and I say. “Six rolls please”. Within seconds she returns with a clear plastic bag filled with fresh rolls. I pick them up and head out the door. I round the corner and hear someone say, “Hey, who you?” I look over and there are a group of women at the corner. One woman says, “Come. Who you?”

I walk over to her and introduce myself. She tells me they have seen me, but don’t know who I am. I explain I am Peace Corps and there is an immediate smile. And then she says warmly, “My name is Pauline”. People in the village are used to Peace Corps volunteers here. She says, “Are you replacing Ryan?” Ryan is the Peace Corps volunteer who extended twice and left just a week ago. I go into more of an explanation than I’d like. I explain to them that I am working for the village foundation and I’m not here to replace Ryan who worked with a village basketball team.

Pauline asks, “Where your husband?” I explain I’m not married. She says, “Why not?” I explain that he died. “You need a man to lay with at night to keep you warm. I find you one.”

I’m relieved as she turns the conversation in another direction. “Where you from?” I explain I’m from Los Angeles, California. Do I know Michael Jackson? O.J. Simpson? Beyonce? Celine Dion? With each name I shake my head and Pauline seems disappointed. She’s written to O.J. but he didn't respond. She concludes he must be busy in prison. I nod my head in agreement.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Making Friends

As I enter the church I hear a man praying. He is in the front of the room with a microphone in hand. The steam from his emotions is flowing into every corner of the church. People have their hands outstretched, palms facing the sky, eyes closed. They are swaying back and forth.

It’s a small church with about 70 folding chairs and I start to follow a group of parishioners to the back of the church when Bertha takes my arm and leads me to three folding chairs in the front row; one for her, one for her husband and I am seating between them.

To date, I’ve only attended the Seventh Day Adventist service. I suspect this will be different when I see drums, an electric guitar, an electronic keyboard, sound equipment and three standing microphones behind a pulpit with plastic flowers in front of it.

A few nights before, I attended a meeting at Monroe College in Castries for faculty and then a follow-on meeting for new students. They served a nice dinner under in the large tent just outside the college. I took my food and sat on one of the picnic benches and talked with a few faculty members and a few of the new students. They were understandably anxious about their decision to return to college; math and statistics were high on their list of fears. I could understand every syllable of their fear; it’s been only a few years since I was one of them. I tried to assure them they could do it; that it would be hard but not impossible.

It was near 8:00 that night when I grabbed my red backpack and headed down the stairs behind the Saint Lucia Bank and toward the quietness of Castries Marketplace. During the daylight hours, Castries is a bustling city with vendors, shoppers, bars, music and restaurants. When there are ships in the harbor the Marketplace is filled with tourists wearing shorts and t-shirts. They are carrying large camera’s, backpacks and satchels filled with a few fruits and mementos they will bring back signifying the few hours they spent on the island.

By this time of night everyone has gone home and there is a stillness and peace about the city. The only activity seems to be waiting bus drivers and passengers as well as the inevitable taxi driver who whispers “Taxi?” as I take a short cut through the park. Busses don’t leave Castries until they are filled to capacity. There is no schedule. On this night I was the last to arrive and there was only one seat in the front. As I got into the bus, I said, “Good night everyone, I bet you are all happy to see me. Now we can be on our way!”

The woman sitting next to me said, “Did you enjoy the meeting and dinner?” I didn’t recognize her until she reminded me she is a Monroe College Professor. As we talked I learned she lives in my village, her husband, Melvin, is a taxi driver/tour guide, and he is also the preacher at the Pentecostal Church in Laborie. Melvin met us at the bus stop in his taxi. They offered me a ride to my house and invited me to their church service. I felt like I’d known Bertha and Melvin my entire life. That’s how I landed at church this morning.

Bertha leaned over looking at the man leading prayer and whispered in my ear, “He’s blind you know”. I could hear increasing volume and emotion with every hallelujah, thank you Jesus, praise the load, amen and praise God. Then everything was silent. A young woman walked up the stairs and took his hand a led him back to his seat.

A young woman takes the microphone and half sings half yells hallelujah eventually breaking into song. Her beautiful voice is backed up by three women singers, a man playing guitar player and another man on the keyboard and still another on drums. As the crescendo peaks mumbling can be heard throughout the church as well as hallelujah, thank you Jesus, praise the load, amen, praise God. Almost everyone has arms stretched high into the air and people are dancing in the isles. Melvin falls on the stairs and prays as the music peaks.

The music stops and Melvin steps up to begin his sermon. “Where Art Thou?” Nudge your neighbor and ask, “Where art thou?” Everyone nudges and pokes and asks the question. And so the service had its message. Are you doing what God would have you do? Or, are you imposing your own will?

When it was time for announcements, I was asked to come up and introduce myself and say a few words about Peace Corps. It was unexpected and I was totally unprepared…but I should have predicted it.

After the service I had a crowd of new best friends: Karen, Theresa and Glenda. They all want to know more about me and are anxious to tell me about the work they are doing in their church community with children and the woman’s group.

And so now, it’s a week later and Bertha has called me a couple of times to see how I am. She’s emailed me and talks about a time when we will all have lunch together. I am grateful for these experiences. They are making my life so rich.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

This is not a Victimless Crime

There are victims and I have identified the perpetrator! This has not happened once, but three times now. I cannot tolerate another victim of this hideous crime. It’s not a random crime, but a crime that only happens only at my house. All of the victims of this crime are dead. I tried to revive them but nothing I did saved them from destiny.

How unfair it is that they must die in an agitated swirl of cold sudsy water. They have done nothing wrong and have been faithful to my every command. They listen to my instructions and respond immediately following each direction, never deviating from the instruction that I carefully feed to them. I’ve been here only five months and already there have been three victims, and now possibly a forth has narrowly escaped.

I used heroic methods to bring them back to life. I ran to the store at full sprint to purchase a bag of rice; money was no object. I took the stairway to my apartment by surprise, two steps at a time. I recovered a large Tupperware container in no time flat. I quickly spread my poor dying friends out and poured rice over their little bodies. I waited the twenty-four hours as instructed before unburying them from their tiny rice graves. I followed the instructions on the internet, but it was no use, they were D.O.A. My emotions run high each time I lose one: anger, loss, frustration. Their pictures are posted in memory; beside the victims is a picture of who I am holding responsible for this serial crime. May they rest in peace in cell phone heaven.

By the way, I budget for a new Ms. Cell each month. As I publish this, I have no idea where the phone I purchased only three weeks ago might be. It’s possible Ms. Cell #4 saw an opportunity when I was in Castries to escape before becoming the next inevitable victim. Ms. Cell Phone #4 picture is at the left. If you happen to see her, please tell her I miss her.

At first it was difficult because there was no one to blame. It’s easier now that I’ve identified the washing machine that smugly sits on my back balcony. We both know the truth.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Raw Pasta and Addition

There is a light tapping on my door. I look through the window and I can see a few tiny heads bobbing up and down on the steps of my porch. It’s been a long day and I’m tired and now the children want my last spurt of energy.

I woke early this morning. Another volunteer came by to look at my kitchen wall – a wall full of charts and drawings and information formatted in a timeline of history about Saint Lucia. I was quite anxious to talk with him because he’s been here longer than me and will have another perspective on the subject. This is a subject I’ve become passionate about. Eric stayed for a couple of hours and the conversation was easy, interesting and illuminating.

Later I went to the Village Council to submit some paperwork and then ran up to the Village Library to poke around. Egbert, the Librarian, is always happy to see me and likes to spend time telling me stories about what he knows of Saint Lucian history. As I walked home I realized that I was “intellectually” exhausted from the day….and now, as I sit here on my living room chair, I want to ignore the little tapping on my door and bobbing small heads that are seen through my window.

I open the door and the oldest, Yvette, asks “Can we come in?” I motion for them to enter and see two small children following her with paper and pencils in hand; two more boys follow them. My house, just five minutes ago, a quiet sanctuary, is now buzzing with the laughter and excitement of five small children.

Yvette looks at me and says, “These two girls are in Kindergarten. Will you please teach them?”

Now, I am not a Kindergarten teacher, nor a primary school teacher, or a secondary school teacher. I teach college level courses. I know nothing about teaching children, but the little girls are sitting on my sofa with their paper notebooks open and a pencil in their little hands ready to write. I realize I need to quickly transfer my skills and react to this request.

First, I try to assess what they know. I ask a few questions. “Show me how you write your name. Let’s sing the ABC song. Can you count to ten?” Alright, they know that stuff so I decide to teach them simple math.

I look in my cupboard and find a bag of pasta. I begin teaching them how to solve the problem 1+1 using the pasta. After a few minutes I realize I’m a very bad Kindergarten teacher. This conclusion is validated as I watch the little boy eating the raw pasta.

As they are sitting on my floor, eating raw pasta and looking at me with blank looks on their faces, they hear the bread truck honking outside and rush out my door and to their house across the street. I watched them from my balcony as they emptied coins from a box onto the table on their patio. They are scraping twenty-five cents together to buy freshly baked bread rolls at a discount price from the truck. It was then that I made a decision. I will design my next kindergarten tutoring session using freshly baked bread rather than raw pasta so they have something easier to eat during the next math demonstration.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Harbin Ice & Snow Festival

I'm a little out of my box with this post, but I want to share. I realize this blog is about Saint Lucia, but it is also about understanding culture. In a small way, I do believe it relates. This interactive festival is held once a year when ice is trucked in and sculptures from around the world create an entire city in ice. Please scroll down to the bottom of my blog where you will find the video. It's simply amazing what we can do when we focus on building a vision together.

Monday, January 12, 2009


I’m sitting outside on the benches at the village secondary school. I’m working with two women on an event that will educate people in our village about the two Nobel Laureates that come from Saint Lucia. This is an interesting assignment and I’m learning a lot about these two men, but I wonder how relevant this is to the lives of people in this village. I intend to write a post about it after our event this month.

It is late and the meeting is finally over. I walk the quarter mile to my house and there are four little boys outside my steps. They have strings with some round disks on them. I asked them about it – it’s a game – they fight.

On further inspection, I find the disks to be very sharp. I ask them where they get these round disks and they tell me they pound bottle caps from Heineken or Piton Beer bottles. They make them razor thin and, consequently sharper than most of the knives in my drawer. They bore two holes in the middle of the disk and put string through the holes.

I am somewhat horrified at this and said, “How do you fight?” It was only after they answered my question that I realized they were not going to fight each other, but fight to destroy the toy of their opponent. The object of the game is to pull the string tight which forces the disk to rapidly spin creating a weapon that, by my standards, is too dangerous for five, six, and seven year old boys to be playing with. But, nevertheless, the fight begins. They move their spinning disk in the direction of the other,and I cringe. One boy cuts the other boy’s string. The disk falls to the ground and a winner is declared.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Sweet Treats and other Foods with Deceptive Names

Foods in Saint Lucia reflect the history of the plantation. The Saint Lucian diet includes a lot of starches, some meat, and very little vegetables. A common meal would be a chicken leg, beans, macaroni and cheese, rice and a bake. The starches eaten here include various kinds of yams, dasheen, bananas and plantains, sweet potatoes, and breadfruit. Most are boiled. For the most part, foods are not spicy. You are on the wrong island if you are looking for Jerk Chicken. Typical meats are pork hocks, pig tail, chicken back, and saltfish, which is cod. Traditional foods are prepared in coal pots; pots heated on coals. Bread is particularly important in the diet. A typical breakfast might be a roll or a bake and salad.

Although there doesn't seem to be an obesity problem here, Saint Lucian's sadly have a high rate of Diabetes, most likely brought on by their thirst for sugary foods. As much as I like sugar, much of it is even too sweet for me.

Cocoa Tea

It's not really tea, they just call it that. It's a hot chocolate drink. Saint Lucians usually use evaporated milk to make this drink because fresh milk is very expensive. They prefer it very sweet. I found this recipe on the internet It was posted by La Haut Plantation Inn and Restaurant in Soufriere.

Cocoa tea is a rich, local breakfast drink. In past times, tiny flour dumplings were boiled in the Cocoa tea, making the drink a complete meal -- the cocoa tea being the drink and the dumplings replacing the bread. I have to say this is the best cocoa I've had.


1/2 cup grated local cocoa stick

2 cups water

1 cup milk (cream, evaporated, powdered, or low-fat)

Sugar to sweeten


Bay leaf

Cinnamon Stick


1 Tablespoon cornstarch

Put water to boil with cinnamon stick and bay leaf. Boil for about 15 minutes. Grate cocoa stick and add to boiling water; boil for another 10 minutes. Add cream (or evaporated milk, powdered milk, or low-fat milk to reduce calories). Sweeten to taste. Mix the cornstarch with water and slowly add to the boiling mixture, stirring all the time. Add vanilla. Strain and serve.

Guava Cheese

It's not really cheese, they just call it that. It's a candy thickened jelly mixture. A chewy fudge-like sweet, Guava Cheese is best made with fresh guavas. They are a rich source of vitamin C -from 3-6 times more than in oranges to almost 30 times more than that found in bananas! Most of this vitamin C is found in the skin of the fruit. I've also seen Mango Cheese. This recipe has more technology involved. Most people do not have food processors. Neil's mother makes great cheese and says that she has many burns on her arms from making the cheese. Neema says it's the best cheese she's had. This isn't her recipe - it's one I found on the internet; this is a VERY sugary treat. It is excellent and a small piece is enough to satisfy my craving for sugar.

  • 1 kg soft guavas
  • Sugar (amount based on how much pulp you get out of the guavas)


  • Cut the guavas into quarters and remove the seeds.
  • Put the seeds in a sieve and add a small amount of water. Rub into the sieve and press down with a flat spoon so as to extract the pulp surrounding the seeds, into a bowl kept below the sieve.
  • Blend the gauva pieces to smooth pulp in your food processor. Measure how many cups of pulp you have - include the pulp removed from around the seeds.
  • Put all the pulp into a large, flat, heavy-bottomed dish on a medium flame.
  • Add sugar to the amount of one cup less than the number of cups of guava pulp. For example, if you had 6 cups of pulp, add 5 cups of sugar to it.
  • Cook, stirring frequently, till it becomes hard to stir and the guava cheese begins to come away from the sides of the pan.
  • Grease a platter and spoon the guava cheese onto it. Spread into a thick layer.
  • Allow to cool a little and while still warm, cut into diamond shapes.
  • When completely cooled, store in an air-tight container.

Saint Lucia Bake

It's not baked, they are fried. Bakes are readily available throughout the island. They are eaten as a snack or can be accompanied with a meal. Some are filled with salt fish or cheese while others are plain. Still others can be slightly sweetened with coconut.

4 cups flour
1½ teaspoon salt
4 teaspoons baking powder
about 2 cups water
1 cup oil for deep frying


Sift flour, salt, and baking powder. Add enough water to make a soft dough. Knead for about ten minutes then let rest for half an hour or more

Cut in pieces and roll each piece five to six inches in diameter and ¼ inch thick. Fry in hot oil, turn once, and fry until brown. Drain on kitchen paper.

The National Dish is Salt Fish and Green Figs

Salt Fish isn’t real salty; it’s dried and preserved in salt. Because it is preserved, Salt Fish is found on grocery store shelves and not in the refrigerated section. Green figs are bananas.

Early slaves discovered that saltfish was a good source of protein. Side dishes include cassava, corn (often blackened), and sweet potatoes - all of which point to the early people of Saint Lucia, the Arawak and Carib, and their influence on island food.


4 pounds green bananas

¼ Cup Chopped Celery

¼ Cup chopped parsley

3 Garlic Cloves

¼ Cup Chopped Bell Peppers

2 pounds salt fish

1 tbs. Chicken Seasoning

¼ C Vegetable Oil


Prepare Bananas:

Remove the skin of the green bananas, clean them and place them in a pan of warm water. Add salt and chicken flavored seasoning to the water. Cover the pan and let it boil until bananas are thoroughly cooked. Let the green bananas stand in the pot and slightly cool.

Clean salt fish under running water. Cut it into several small pieces, place in a pan to boil in adequate water for 20 minutes. Remove from water and place in a container of cool water. When cooled, shred and place in a bowl.

Heat 1/4 cup vegetable oil in a frying pan. Add celery, parsley, onion, garlic and peppers, seasoning. Stir continuously for two (2) minutes; add salt fish and mix. Taste for salt as the salt is what that brings out the flavor.

Remove bananas form the water, placing chop and place onto a plate. Add salt fish.

We call the avocado – they say pear

Oranges and tangerines are green – not orange

Finally, the Star Fruit - it's sweet, but not deceptive. It's interesting because I've never seen them in California.