Let me start off by expressing how much I love island cuisine. This past week has inspired me to do more when it comes to preparing food for my family. As mothers we often approach cooking as something that requires much effort. And yes, at times it does. But on a morning walk this week I encountered local fishermen casting their nets and harvesting what we call SPRAT. Sprat are small, silver iridescent fish with slender bodies.
This delightful scene took me back to a book I read in elementary school with vivid pictures of primitive Caribbean life. A children’s story laden with bold colors and depictions of island women with baskets on their heads filled with produce and children strapped to their backs. The men with pants made out of crocus bags, and old wooden homes with brightly painted roofs. At the edge of the water are men casting nets and fish flipping and flopping out of the buckets and into the sand. How simple life seemed to be back then.
This day I realized how much the customs and traditions of old are still flowing within each and everyone of us with Caribbean ties. Among the hustle and bustle of our new modern society are people who live or at least strive to exist as their ancestors once did. Definitely a breathe of fresh air as I stood with the fishermen and we discussed different ways of preparing the sprat. We agreed on two things-the sprat must be 1. Fried or smoked and 2. Accompanied by banana fritters. What a great time we had!
Two days later my new friend the fisherman called me back down to the same spot as he had harvested a fresh catch of sprat. This time his friends were there cleaning the fish while he built a small bush fire. How authentic and soooo island I thought…Love it!
I felt like a nature goddess as my snack was plated on a waxy sea grape leaf picked fresh from a nearby tree. The smell of charred sprat seasoned from the ocean tickled my taste buds as I indulged for one moment as time stood still. This was a first. From ocean up to my lips without leaving the sea shore. This experience was for the books, and all I can hear my soul say was, “I want more of this…”
Each bite sweeter and more satisfying than the one before, I left the beach with more smoked sprat in my nature made plate. Island life at it’s best. I offered to pay and was quieted as if my words were insulting. How would I prepare my sprat? Fried, butter sauce, broiled or barbecue even? One thing’s for certain, banana fritters and a tall glass of limeade will be the finishing touch to an amazing entree of sprat. Yum!