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Archives for April 2013

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Last Lobster Meal Before Close Season

Lobster lovers, take note: if you visit Jamaica between today and June 30th, there will not be an ounce of lobster on any menu anywhere on the island.

The close season started officially on April 1st and coincides with the peak breeding period. If you’re lucky enough to arrive before April 21st, you might be able to find some lobster as the government allows businesses to register by March 31st any stocks they might have. That stock can be used until April 21st.

Jamaican spiny lobster

Jamaican lobster

During the close season, it is illegal to catch, buy or sell lobsters. And any lobsters caught unintentionally in fishing traps must be returned to the sea. It is also illegal to be in possession of lobster parts or products, whether they are fresh or frozen. The penalties include 6 months in jail or a fine of J$100,000 (about US$1,000).

The Jamaican lobster is really a large crayfish. (A few weeks ago, I left a comment at A Taste of Travel.  They have the same crayfish in Australia that we call lobster here.)  It doesn’t have big claws like lobsters from Maine and the meat is a bit firmer. However it is prepared in the same way you would a regular lobster: grilled, steamed, curried, jerked, or used in soups and salads.

Until my neighbor reminded me, I’d totally forgotten about the few pounds I’ve had frozen since last December. Since I didn’t want to run afoul of the law, I decided to fix the lobster for dinner on Sunday, the last day we’re allowed legally to have it in our possession. Here’s how I prepared it.

Coconut Lobster

Coconut Lobster

Coconut Lobster

3 lbs. lobster
4 stalks escallion (spring onions), chopped finely
3 sprigs of thyme
1 small onion, chopped
1 or 2 small tomatoes, diced
1 small Scotch Bonnet pepper (leave whole. Remove seeds and cut into small pieces, if you want more fire)
1 can coconut milk
Oil
Salt, pepper to taste

Preparation

Hold the lobster body firmly with one hand, the tail with the other. Turn the tail until it separates from the body. Take a pair kitchen shears or a sharp knife and cut down the center of the tail. Use your fingers or the knife to pry the meat from the shell.
Remove the vein from the tail. Wash, cut into 1” pieces and set aside.
Sauté chopped onions, shallots, tomatoes and pepper
Add lobster, and salt and pepper to taste
Sauté until the pieces become white
Add coconut milk, whole Scotch Bonnet pepper and thyme
Let cook for 3 minutes or until done

Serve over your favorite vegetables

What foods do you look forward to eating when you travel?

The Jamaican Cherry

The Jamaican Cherry has red, sometimes yellow skin, is yellow inside and has two to three small oval seeds. It is slightly sweet, slightly tart and juicy, and is used to make juices, or washed and eaten just picked from the tree. The cherries are low in carbohydrates and are packed with vitamin C, vitamin A and folate.

Lone garden cherry on a tree Jamaica

Jamaican Cherry

The Jamaican Cherry is native to the Caribbean, southern Mexico, Central America and south to Peru and Bolivia. But it has also been found as far away as India and the Philippines. The Jamaican Cherry is known by several names, including Panama berry, Singapore cherry, and manzanitas.

Garden Cherry Jamaica

Jamaican Cherry

Cherry pits Jamaica

Pits

Flesh of a garden cherry Jamaica

The Jamaican Cherry is also a flowering tree. The flowers can be used as an antiseptic and also to relieve headaches and colds.

I took this flower, which I’ve magnified several times, around November. Since then, there has been two crops of fruit – cherries are in season again.

Flower of a cherry tree, Jamaica

Cherry flower

The trees are beautiful in season with specks of red peeking out from among verdant green leaves. The fruit can be picked individually or shaken from the tree, which typically grows no more than 6 or 7 feet tall. And since the trees are not very large, they can be found in the backyard gardens of most Jamaican families.

Cherry Drink, Jamaica

Jamaican Cherry Drink

During the season, it’s possible to get dozens of cherries – more than enough to juice. I usually freeze them and use them sparingly until the next crop. For color, I add some to my homemade fruit juices.

The Jamaican cherry is in season now so if you’re visiting or planning to visit soon, you should try the fresh juice. Ask at your hotel or guest house if there’s some on the menu, or if they can get some. I know some of the smaller establishments will gladly oblige.

The juice is quite easy to make. Put cherries in a blender, add enough water to cover the fruit and blend. (You can also add a bit more water if the juice is too thick.) Strain, add a little nutmeg, lime or ginger, and sugar to taste. Serve over ice or chill before serving.

 

This is my submission to Travel Photo Thursday, which is organized by Nancie at Budget Travelers Sandbox. Be sure to head over and check out more photos from locations around the world.

 

It’s Mango Season in Jamaica

Jamaicans have a passion for mango and during mango season, everyone gets to indulge, sometimes eating enough of the fruit to replace a meal.

Mangoes are so loved here, there’s even a folk song, called appropriately, Mango Time, that celebrates the delicious fruit, and up to a few years ago, there was a mango festival in the parish of Westmoreland.

Mango season starts around April or May and ends about July, though there is at least one variety, the Tommy Atkins, which comes in around September or October.

Blossoming Mango tree, Jamaica

Blossoming Mango tree

If you’re a mango lover and are planning to visit Jamaica in the next few months, you’ll be in mango heaven. Trees are laden with mangoes; they’ll be on sale at almost every roadside stall, and included in the breakfast buffet at your hotel. In the height of the season, the aroma of the ripened fruit will hang in the air.

Mangoes on a tree

Mango tree

Mangoes are native to South Asia, where they have been grown for more than 6,000 years. They were introduced to Jamaica in the 1700s after several varieties were discovered on a French ship that was destined for Hispaniola. The ship was captured at sea by Lord Rodney and the mangoes brought to the island.

Ripe Julie and Graham mangoes

Julie and Graham mangoes

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5 Places I’ve Never Been (and Why I Want to Go)

Like most people who love to travel, I have a list of places I’ve never been. And I add to the list each time I read or hear about another place that fascinates me.

Most of the places I’ve never been are historic. This surprises me because I was never interested in history.

Some are sacred, and that surprises me too.

All have been designated UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and each resonates with me in ways I can’t explain.

As there are more than 20 places on my current list, it was difficult to choose the five I wanted to write about for this challenge. But if I were to stop traveling tomorrow, I’d kick myself for not seeing these places.

Peru – I was just out of high school when I visited Chichén Itzá and my interest in ancient civilizations was sparked. The trip, I believe, set the tone for future trips and the things that would eventually capture my imagination. I was fascinated by what the Mayans were able to accomplish without the sophisticated building equipment that we have today and wanted to see Machu Picchu, the estate the Incas had constructed for their emperor.

Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu

Spain – The Alhambra. I attended school in Barcelona for 4 months but never had the time nor the funds to visit southern Spain. I had become intrigued by what we had learned about the Moorish presence in Andalucia and have longed to see the historic palace. The closest I’ve come however (if you call that close) was in 2011, when I visited the New York Botanical Gardens’ celebration of the Alhambra in an exhibition titled Spanish Paradise: Gardens of the Alhambra.

India – Taj Mahal. This unbelievably beautiful symbol of love and loss, was built by Emperor Jahan for his third wife who died in childbirth. It’s hard for me to imagine or even understand love so deep and loss so profound.

A Love Poem Written in Marble

Taj Mahal

Ethiopia – Lalibela. The city of rock-hewn churches, is Ethiopia’s holiest cities and a center of religious pilgrimage. It is considered to be a representation of the old city of Jerusalem. I learned about Lalibela from one of my Ethiopian friends — can’t wait to go.

Jordan – Petra. I had a pact with my Jordanian friend: she’d take me to Jordan to see Petra, the city made famous by its rock-cut architecture, and I’d show her Jamaica. I was hoping to go in 2011, but only made it to Paris. Unfortunately, my friend passed later that year.

What places have you never been that you’d like to visit?

This post is part of the Traveling Brown Girls Blog Carnival hosted by BrownGirlsFly.

photos by: Matito & laszlo-photo