March in Hertfordshire is worlds away from the Caribbean. Wrapped up in several thick layers of clothes, listening to the rain on the conservatory roof, it was almost impossible to imagine the blue sky and sunshine Ann Vanderhoof describes in the current Cook the Books bookclub selection, An Embarrassment of Mangoes.
This isn't my first at-second-hand encounter with sailing around the Caribbean. An amazing foody friend of mine has been crewing on a charter catamaran based in the British Virgin Islands for several years. Once in a while amazing nutmeg scented parcels of aged rums, bizarre spiced cocoa balls and nutmeg jam arrive, with lovely evocative letters about trying to produce gourmet meals in a galley kitchen with uncertain supply chains.
Because of those luxurious parcels, and the lovely passage in the book about hiking through the nutmeg trees, I'd been keen to do something with nutmeg or mace. Unfortunately I couldn't decide what.
So I settled on booze.
A frozen daiquiri (made with tinned mango pulp - I did mention March in Hertfordshire, mangoes are hard to come by), heady with lime juice and coconut rum was a delicious hit of sunshine on a grey day.
And as a substantial snack as a base for the booze - shark & bake with shadow benny sauce and some fried plantains. I used coriander leaves for the shadow benny, and (as a supporter of the Fish Fight) some lovely fat fillets of Cornish day-boat caught pollock instead of shark for my fried bakes.
It may not look much like Trinidad outside, but we still had our little taste of the Caribbean.