ADVICE/TRAVEL

IMPERFECT DOMINICA:
PART II

Not trying the local foods will be missing out on Dominica. For a food lover like me, this was truly one of the best parts of the trip. You will be hard pressed to find any “bad” food in this city, unless you are utterly repulsed by Caribbean cuisine. The real delicacy in Dominica is the crapaud (or mountain chicken) as it is called. Crapaud is a large frog and a dweller of some mountainous regions. It’s generally either fried or stewed in a sauce. The meat is tender and tastes similar to…yes, you guessed it: chicken. However, it is said to be much better. I had to take their word for it because this is not something I could bring myself to try. Two memorable meals were the Beef Satay Kebabs at “La Robe Creole,” and the Grouper that I had at the “Marquis de Bouille” inside the Fort Young Hotel.

“La Robe Creole” is a comfy, down-home type place with a friendly staff in the heart of the city. Adding to the exposed brick décor was the artwork (done by the owners’ daughter). Try this for lunch and dine either inside or out. For a more elegant, white table-cloth dining experience, the “Marquis de Bouille” is your spot. Sitting on the terrace, looking out onto the ocean and listening to the waves crashing below, I was moved to order Grouper. I know, this seems rather boring for such an exotic locale, but I assure you that they did a much better job than your local Red Lobster. Creole-style, spicy fish and chicken dishes are the specialty in Dominica. Heavy use of cinnamon, hot peppers, vanilla, cocoa and bay leaves is quite common in Dominican cuisine. Having said that, you may now be able to appreciate how good this Grouper was. It almost fell apart when touched with the fork, and melted in your mouth. Clearly, this fish was just caught about the time I stepped into the restaurant. The flying fish is most popular among the locals, but the Grouper was plenty satisfying for me.

Downtown Roseau is chock full of many shops and street vendors selling their wares. Nearly exempt from mass tourism due to its lack of a jet port, these shops are frequented by the very limited cruise boat tourism that arrives daily. Various souvenir trinkets and local garb are seemingly available on every corner of these small streets. Sticking to my custom, I was in search of a doll representative of a native to give to my mother. Unfortunately, on this shopping expedition I was also sticking to another one of my customs of shopping at the last minute. As a result, I rather hurriedly and indiscriminately chose a doll and headed back to the Fort Young in order to catch my taxi back to Melville Hall Airport. The events that followed this purchase lead me to believe that I inadvertently bought a voodoo doll of some sort. After the scheduled taxi arrived 30 minutes late, he subsequently tried his best to burn out the clutch of this very narrow mini-van, blew a tire on the aforementioned windy, pot-hole ridden, one-lane with two-lane traffic, wrong-way elevated expressway, and proceeded to have a very difficult time operating the jack and fixing the flat. Refusing to let us hop in another cab, apparently too proud to admit defeat to a fellow yellow-cab compadre, he finally managed to get the vehicle back in working order and did his best “Bourne Identity” driving impression in getting us to the airport at 2:25pm. Recall my mention of a mere one flight per day to and from this airport. This one was scheduled to leave at 2:50pm. Also recall my description of the sheer enormity of Melville Hall’s terminal. Well, despite the big puppy-dog eyes and sad story that I told the gate agent, she refused to allow me on the flight. Never mind the fact that I could see the plane through the backdoor a mere 100 feet away. Surely it could not take 25 minutes for my luggage and me to make it to the aircraft. I could even carry it there myself. I finally wore her down enough for her to allow me on the flight. Once again, however, my luggage became an issue. She insisted that she could not check my bags all the way through to my final destination and that I’d have to claim them and re-check them in San Juan. Perhaps this really was the case, but I tend to think that she had just received a fax transmission of a memo from the vendor alerting her that I was in possession of the doll. How else would you explain missing my ensuing connection in San Juan , being re-routed on a flight that would require an overnight stay in Miami, and the severe cold front and near freezing rain that kept me off the Strip in South Beach and stuck in a hotel eating Domino’s pizza?

Destah Owens is a single father of two from Northern California and proud UCLA Bruin who travels the world for his job as a computer engineer. His blog, “Soufflés in Saigon,” is exclusive to Urban Thought Collective.


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Comments

January 29th, 2009 at 8:51 am Geneva Newman says:

mountain chicken? I can’t do no frogs! But the way they spice up their food sounds amazing I can smell it ha ha

January 29th, 2009 at 8:53 am culturepop says:

believe it or not brother you have inspired me a whole lot! I booked a trip to antigua for this summer and I can’t wait

January 29th, 2009 at 8:58 am Krista Wills says:

I would have fainted with him driving like that for real
But chalk it up to another blessed adventure I bet at parties you the brother that always got a story to tell!

January 29th, 2009 at 9:04 am Travis Utley says:

I bet the sistas are fine too, right? don’t leave that out LOLLOL

January 29th, 2009 at 9:08 am Jane Kennedy says:

Damn that trip took a hecka turn! but you had your fun
what’s the next trip???

January 29th, 2009 at 9:09 am buttabrown says:

Do you cook this kind of exotic food too? I just have a feeling you can throw down

January 29th, 2009 at 9:12 am Lottie Markus says:

@butta are you flirtin with this poor man again? :)

January 29th, 2009 at 9:47 am Uncle D says:

I love all kinds of fish but i don’t think i have tried grouper
does it still have the head on it?

January 29th, 2009 at 9:51 am Tracey Abbott says:

do you use the tourist guide books when you travel or just ask the locals where the spots are

January 29th, 2009 at 10:17 am Raleena Millsap says:

awww…them puppy dogs eyes didn’t work huh

January 29th, 2009 at 1:40 pm Stephanie says:

Great story!! Those dolls can be something else.

January 29th, 2009 at 3:09 pm Destah Owens says:

@culturepop: glad to hear it! You can’t really go wrong by gettin’ your travel on.

@Krista Willis: if prompted, i’ve definitely got a story…unless I’m layin’ back playin’ “shy-brotha”..lol

@buttabrown: yeah, i can do a lil’ sumthin. I always try to duplicate stuff that I’ve eaten and do a pretty fair job. Admittedly though, my efforts at jamaican food have failed miserably (even WITH the cookbook) thus far.

@travis utley: surprisingly, there weren’t a whole lotta head turners here..not like Trinidad anyway. The hostess at the Fort Young Restaurant was BAD though. Here’s a tip in foreign countries, caribbean islands included and DEFINITELY latin america: the stunners will be in the customer facing positions (i.e. front desk, bank teller, restaurant hostess, etc.)

@tracy abbott: most of the time, i ask the locals. They are usually pretty excited that you want to know about what THEY do, and rarely will send you to a tourist trap. In addition, i usually do a quick google search if i know nothing about an area at all.

January 30th, 2009 at 2:36 am Elsa Harkins says:

Not the Bourne Identity driving impression! HASAA! I can see it now. You gripping the backseat in terror. FAH!

January 30th, 2009 at 10:30 am pmatters says:

Eating frogs, really??? I would have had to pass on that one too, sorry mountain chicken. LOL!! Dominica sounds lovely.

January 30th, 2009 at 5:45 pm Elvira says:

I missed part one, where exactly is Dominica? Sounds like a place I’d like to go.

January 30th, 2009 at 6:00 pm Destah Owens says:

@elvira: through the wonders of the internet, part one and all of my other entries are saved. Just click on my name or on Blogs from the homepage and you can get to all old entries. Dominica is a couple hours south of Puerto Rico in the Eastern Caribbean, near Guadaloupe and Montserrat.

January 30th, 2009 at 7:01 pm Monia says:

Your handsome!

June 22nd, 2009 at 3:46 am Dujjchzn says:

LRaQ0Q comment1 ,

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