Oh, winter. I'm just not that into you.
It's the same ruse every year. You charm us into your skeletal arms with your images of fuzzy draft horses, crackling fireplaces and the scent of mulling spices wafting through a bauble-adorned hall. Then you shove us out the door and lock it behind us.
It's called February. And I'm not going to take it anymore. It's as if winter, in its death throes, is grabbing us all by our tattered scarves and pulling us down into the abyss of its icy lair. Hundred-year-storm, seven feet in Boston, Tennessee encased in an ice-tomb...I'm done. I dream of the halcyon days of walking outside without looking like my mother has dressed me for a long day on the sledding hill. I think I can speak for most of us when I say we could use a little lime in our coconut.
That's right. I packed up and went to Curaçao.
Curaçao is a small island off the coast of Venezuela. It is safely out of the hurricane belt and, more importantly to me at this particular time of year, out of the blizzard zone. I went to Curaçao and took my coat off. I took my coat off and walked straight into the warm, blue sea. I sat in the sand. I ate fresh fish and drank things that smelled like mangoes. I listened to salsa and soca and tumba. I slept under a palapa as the setting sun warmed the bottom of my feet and I learned how to say "thank you" in Papiamentu. One night, I witnessed a Carnival celebration. Everyone smiled as they strolled across the beach to the place where the music played and paper lanterns were strung across the sky. All dressed in white, they laughed out loud and drank and held the edge of their cotton dresses while their bare feet beat the sand. There was a drum and brass band bringing down the house. Carnival dancers eager to show off this year's costume masterpieces filed in and followed suit; their wings and sequins spinning in rhythmic poetry.
So, now that I'm back, I am eager to keep the momentum going. I've been listening to brass bands and counting the days until we spring forward. I found a recipe for Saus Krioyo, the creole sauce used on many dishes in Curaçao. If I look outside, I can still see the reality of dirt-encrusted snow and hibernating, leafless oaks. Plows are still growling and the old man across the street chips away unsteadily with a shovel at a mailbox post he may never find. But, inside is different. Inside the fish is frying and the trombones are sliding. This Tuesday is going to be a FAT one, and the limes are fresh and juicy.
Here is a whole red snapper, seasoned, dusted with flour and fried. Served with Saus Krioyo, a tomato, pepper and onion-based sauce with fish stock and soy sauce. On the side is funchi, a traditional corn meal mush similar to polenta and a bell pepper, jalapeño and cilantro slaw dressed with lime vinaigrette.
Play this while you're frying:
Here are a few more photos to warm you up: