Wednesday, March 21, 2007

March 21, 2007 - Las Aves, Venezuela

It all started with a sprig of rosemary. I get very excited when I find fresh herbs in the stores, so I buy whatever is available without any plans for them, knowing that they will come in handy. In Grenada I found dill, rosemary, basil and curly parsley. Into the basket they all went. We take creative license with recipes out here. The tzatziki called for mint - it got dill. Curly parsley gets substituted for flat. We use basil all the time. But after a week, I still hadn't come up with anything to do with rosemary, other than lamb, which was a non-starter - the only lamb on board is buried in the bottom of the ice flow that is our freezer. Then yesterday's bread baking provided an inspiration. Focaccia. Rosemary caramelized onion focaccia.

Then we were trying to figure out what to do with the jack Sten caught yesterday. If we were having focaccia, it should probably be Italian. We tend to lean more towards Latin flavors than Italian, when grilling. Sten initially suggested grilling the fish in foil packs with tomatoes and onions. That would have been fine, but not really interesting. It took some flipping through cookbooks before inspiration hit - pescado a la veracruzana - fish in a briny tomato sauce. For the same reason that a Portuguese fish stew is the basis of one of the classic dishes of Malaysia - waves of colonists and immigrants bringing the flavors of their homeland with them - the cuisine of the Veracruz region of Mexico is more similar to those of many Mediterranean regions than those of Mexico's interior. The ingredients for this classic Mexican dish could as easily be found in an Italian cookbook - onions (sauted in olive oil), garlic, tomatoes, oregano, bay leaves, parsley, capers and olives. It is simple and pungent, and delectable spooned over grilled fish. And a fitting accompaniment to focaccia.

We wound up with a feast, fit for celebrating the fantastic place that we've found ourselves.

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