Thursday, June 14, 2007

Kitchen Insurrection

I'd been told that some of the teenagers in our group would be helping me in the kitchen. Sure enough, like clockwork they make their presence known shortly after dinner and we've developed a quick, surefire system for washing dishes.

It quickly became evident to me that it would be faster and easier to just wash dishes for 33 persons rather than trying to stack them all in the dishwasher. Actually, we have two dishwashers. But the biggest dinner plates don't fit. So I've trained the crew to stack plates and silver on a sideboard outside the kitchen passthrough. With one person washing, a second drying and me carrying the dishes to the pantry, we've got this down to a science.

But--and a large BUT here--last night a group of the adults volunteered and immediately the questions started.

"Why do we have to wash dishes?"

"Don't they fit in the dishwasher?"

"Can't the housekeeper do it?"

It was turning into a full-blown mutinee. I finally had to assert my chef's priveledges and tell the adults they were acting worse than children and if they couldn't take directions, they should find a replacement who would.

That quieted them down. But I know what they're thinking. So the new rule is, no more adults in the kitchen. Or, if you insist on helping, raise my rate.

We are now seriously on the hunt for local lobsters. I priced frozen Maine lobster tails at the island's main restuarant supply and they came in at a whopping $40 per pound. (So don't be surprised by the price on your restaurant menu.) It would seem logical that the local, clawless Caribbean lobsters would be cheaper. But just try finding them.

Oh, there are fishermen and trappers out there on the azure seas, hunting the spiny lobsters. But they all go to area restaurants. You don't see them in the market. But a very nice gentleman named Leslie at our local grocer's, Ashley & Sons, has put the word out to some of the local fishing contacts that we need 35 lobsters. I plan to split them in half and grill them, according to local custom. Maybe we could get by with 17 lobsters and add beef kabobs. My hosts are hounding me for kabobs.

On the subject of seafood, my latest reading is "The Empty Ocean," and you don't have to go far for evidence of that. We had also thought we'd make a dinner of the local fish, which typically means snapper.

I know from the Seafood Watch program at Monterey Bay Aquarium that most snapper is on the "avoid" list. We learned that the best source for local fish is a small bait and tackle shop called The Fishery where the fishermen bring their catch in the afternoon and the fish is cleaned. We stopped by and got instruction to call around 2 pm to see what kind of fish had been landed. When we called, we were told that all of the fish--snapper--were too small to fillet.

Can we asuume that if the locals spend the day on the water and can't bring in anything big enough to fillet, it means the big fish have already been eaten? And now they're hauling in the juveniles?

Not a good sign...

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