A beach, friends and food
What more could you ask for?
We had perfect weather for a barbecue at Calabash Beach just a few weeks ago. Our friends Mary and Nigel and their son Niall on SV Osprey had invited us and another couple (Nick and Lori-Anne on SV Reckless Faith) for a little get together in Prickly Bay, just around the corner from Secret Harbour where we had been anchored.
It wasn’t just any beach BBQ, however. We’d be eating the national dish of Grenada, which I had yet to try: Oil Down. I wasn’t quite sure what it might be or how it would taste, but the offer was too enticing to pass up. We all loaded into a van and five minutes later unloaded onto a quaint little beach.
In addition to the seven of us, we were also accompanied by Devon, our driver and chef for the day, and his three lovely children (whose names have escaped me). Devon and his oldest son began to unload the van while his other kids played in the water close by.
There was a grassy area perfect for Nick and LA to play with their dog, Boomer. Mary began to blow up a raft she had brought for Devon’s youngest son and the rest of us wandered around, drinks in hand, dipping our toes in the water. We had the beach all to ourselves. It was perfect.
It’s not a soup!
Almost immediately, Devon started to add bags of ingredients he prepped the night before into a giant stainless steel pot. Local produce like breadfruit, green fig, calalloo (a green similar to spinach), onions, pumpkin, green beans and garlic were being tossed in. Next, salt fish and pieces of pork and chicken were added to the pile. Finally, he whipped up some simple dumplings made of flour and water and rolled them into long thing strips and tossed those in as well.
As we were watching him add layer after layer of ingredient, Devon made it clear that you don’t stir Oil Down. You simply let it cook. “It’s not a soup!” he’d say. Making Oil Down is all about layering flavors that meld together as it bubbles away.
To top it all off, he dumped about a gallon or two of a bright orange liquid into the pot. “The secret ingredient”, he told us. Turmeric, coconut milk and other spices is what I assumed it could be. He set the monstrosity onto a crackling fire and slid an equally giant lid on top of the pot.
After about 45 minutes, the lid came off and the concoction was simmering beautifully. Everything had turned into a beautiful, golden pot of yumminess. The Oil Down was finished and it was ready to eat!
Devon scooped up a hearty plate for all of us, making sure we got each and every kind of the vegetables, meats and dumplings he had added. We all excitedly scampered near the edge of the beach to enjoy our meal under the shade of almond and palm trees. Once we were all seated, all you could hear was the sound of the water lapping up on the sand. Everyone was elbow deep in the rich, coconut, oily stew.
It was delicious. Thick and hearty like a stew, but slightly sweet and creamy thanks to the coconut milk. I was in love. After second helpings, we were all stuffed to the brim and couldn’t move an inch. After a while, we slowly cleaned up and made our way back to the van to return home and promptly nap.
What a lovely day it was and what lovely dreams I’ll have about when I can have this tasty goodness again!
*All pictures were taken by our talented friend, Niall, on SV Osprey. Thanks Niall!