Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Provisioning Outside of the USA

You really appreciate home when you are facing new challenges such as shopping. At home, you can easily find food items that you like at a price that is comfortably familiar. When in the islands, it is a different story. There is no Costco or Sam's Club here. There isn't really a fully stocked Kroger or ...

When shopping at a local "supermarket," the prices were shocking:
  • $7.35 for a small Boursin cheese
  • Horizon milk was $6.85 for a half gallon
  • $10.50 for a whole chicken - and there were only 3 from which to pick
  • No pre-cut, pre-packaged fresh chicken
  • $12.00 for an 6 oz. ribeye steak (and it wasn't very good)
The produce was just as costly relative to shopping at home. And there is a limited amount available. No Nino's here! Apples were $1 - 1.75 EACH depending on the size. Many of the bins were empty. Of course the reason for the high prices and limited quantities is that everything has to be imported. The only crop on Tortola is bananas.

I asked the cab driver if the prices were the same for the locals. It seems they are and the income levels are much lower. I really don't know how these people afford to feed their families. That is one reason why sailors give their extra provisions to the locals who have helped them when the boat goes on the hard and you can't take your extra food back home.

The meat counters are full of interesting things: goat, chicken feet, pig snouts, and other cuts I have never seen before. We are staying away from the local seafood except for deep sea fish. Several people we know have become seriously ill - one died - from something picked up in island seafood. I think Maryland crabcakes are looking better all of the time. And of course, Michigan white fish, perch and walleye can't be beat!

We have tried a few things at local bakeries. The coconut roll cake is very tasty. A new treat is the chicken roti. It is a thick chicken stew wrapped in a special flat bread called roti. The island spices make it delicious. I have even learned to drink Carib beer. Beer has always given me stuffy sinuses, but this one is light enough that it doesn't bother them and I actually like the taste - when it is cold. Warm - UGH! And if you don't drink it quickly, it will be warm is a very short time! So ... bottoms up!

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