Callaloo Soup and the Tobago Cayes

Published: June 10th 2017
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Geo: 12.6438, -61.3911

In every country I visit I try to find a vegan version of their native foods and signature dish. Here, in Grenada and St. Vincent, it is Callaloo soup. I have eaten it several times so far on this journey, and each time it is prepared slightly differently, so it is always a delightful surprise to taste that first spoonful. I love Callaloo soup! Callaloo is a dark green color, the soup made of the leaves of the dasheen plant, which, in my dictionary, is also known as taro. This is a bit confusing, as taro's starchy tubers are the edible part, not the leaves. But these soups are definitely prepared from the large, deep green Callaloo leaves. Less adventurous crew members have asked me what the soup tastes like, and I have offered spinach as the most similar, although the two really taste nothing alike. Apparently Callaloo soup can be prepared in as many different ways as there are individual cooks: just the boiled leaves alone, leaves cooked in coconut milk and herbs, leaves cooked in coconut milk plus okra, hot peppers, onions, and herbs; I don't know how else since when I ask, the servers always just say there are no meat or fish or dairy products in it. But it is always delicious! When you come to the Caribbean I highly recommend your trying Callaloo soup.

Yesterday morning we left Chatham Bay --and our dear Bushman-- quite early, heading out to the gorgeous Tobago Cayes. Incredibly stunning colors of water! Brilliant turquoise meeting blue and then steel grey: I haven't seen such gorgeous ocean waters since we swam in Tulum, Mexico. The color is so deep it looks as if our skin would be painted turquoise after swimming in it. But snorkeling where we moored was rough; the water was very choppy, and I kept having trouble with my snorkel and mask as water kept splashing through. We did see a parade of seastars, but very few turtles are here in the turtle sanctuary, unlike nine years ago when Mary and John saw so many. Now the bottom is sandy; there is no turtle grass, which is where turtles like to be. What happened? Were these lovely creatures eaten, or did they move after a hurricane? Was it the wrong time of year to see turtles? Because of the rough waters and sparcity of turtles, we cut our snorkeling time here very short. I did dive in for a swim later on in the day, but the current was quite strong; even swimming here wasn't pleasant. So today we moved to another spot, this time right around the "corner" in the most beautiful, much more protected area of SaltWhistle Bay, also in Tobago Cayes Marine Park, but in totally different waters.

SaltWhistle Bay is stunning. It is the quintessential Caribbean, the iconic West Indies. I can never get enough of any of this! We are truly in Paradise. Again we see the stunning turquoise water, this time calm. The weather is perfect too: warm total sun, not too too hot, plus cooling breezes. After mooring here we walked along the beach, dinghyed back for an early lunch, then went swimming, surrounded by absolute beauty. I can't think of a more exquisite place than right here. We ate dinner at the SaltWhistle Bay Club, a lovely restaurant where each table and benches are separate units from the others and are made of stone, each with individual thatched roofs; eating the best dinner I have had yet so far, we were looking out at the sun setting into the ocean, and, as twilight closed over us, candles were brought to light our dinner. What an exceptional experience. I could live here.

Today, after our second perfect night in SaltWhistle Bay, all of the crew walked a mile or so to explore the close-by town of Mayreau. There is an actual road into Mayreau, steeply uphill for most of the way. We walked past colorful stores, houses, churches, and many dogs, a few of whom accompanied us, one at a time, and led us to the top. Guard dogs; it was pleasant to have a canine companion. At the top of the steep hills we sat in the shade beside a church, listening to the sweet singing of the congregation, stilling our hearts and allowing the sweat to cool. We chatted a bit with another little group also sitting there, a young French group whom we recognized from our close mooring below, and who were mortified by another boat's crew swimming naked and washing in the ocean. We had also seen this from the people on the Swedish boat as they were moored directly behind us, but I found it interesting that they could be so free with their imperfect bodies. I was not at all offended by their actions, but the French group was quite upset. This made me even more curious as I had thought it was the French, especially the young, who felt totally comfortable with nudity. What things we learn when we travel!

We met another couple, from Nova Scotia, who has lived in Mayreau for over 20 years part-time. They escape the cold Canadian winters and live here for half of each year, working to try to control the overpopulation of lion fish, a huge problem in the Caribbean. Their work is inspiring; it is good to have a purpose in life, and theirs is passionate.

One of the highlights of today was finding a Christmas tree for the boat. My new crew friends, Sue and Elrose, and I went foraging along the beach to hunt for a green palm frond to bring back and adorn with all natural decorations. I didn't want to cut a living one down, but Sue found a branch that had already fallen; this would do just fine. Elrose found an abandoned bird's nest that we used for the star, and I picked up many colorful grape leaves to decorate the branches. We tied it to a bow post using dental floss, and people kept adding to the decorations as the day continued on. Foil icicles (horrors!), large almond shells nestled between branches, some beautiful small shells arranged around the bottom; we had our pretty little Christmas tree. Sue and I had gathered lacy, filigreed fan corals we found washed up on the beach, but learned even corals washed to shore are not allowed to be collected, so we reluctantly gave them back to the sea. They would have made lovely, if illicit, ornaments.


28th December 2015

Sounds like a good trip. I'm going to Southeast Asia in Feb for 4 weeks. You are certainly out traveling me, though.
28th December 2015

Enjoyed reading your adventures... makes me feel I am there!
29th December 2015

The leaves of taro are edible if cooked. In Samoa they are baked with coconut milk and onions creating a pudding like dish called palusami. They are also cooked in Hawaii with a meat stuffing - kind of like stuffed grape leaves. Both are ve
ry tasty. The tuber provides one of the starch mainstays to the Polynesian diet.
29th December 2015

Sorry about the multiple postings. I kept getting an error message that obviously was an error in itself!

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