I'm a Rainbow Too!

Every year, I end up on a beach on various parts of the island of St. Martin/Sint Maarten. Every year, I end up on my back with the hot sun burning my skin, grooving on a slight buzz, fantasizing a simple, barefoot, sundrenched existence with a bit of sand at the nape of my neck, a guitar and a Heineken. Every year, I question why I live in a big city (at least when I lived in Manhattan) when I could live right there, on the beach, teaching myself French.

Robert wonders the same thing. Robert is a familiar face that hangs at Brice Paradise
in SXM. You'll catch him at the bar with an El Presidente or fishing out in the waters just off Baie Orientale. I don't know him very well, but he always remembers me. He too, wonders why I choose the life of a big, dirty city. I imagine that he lives his life the way they say Bob Marley used to. I read somewhere that Bob used to wake up at some ridiculous hour, like 5am. You know, one of those random hours that's not inappropriately early, but entirely abnormal. He'd take a run on the beach, probably for miles and pick a banana on the way. He'd fish for lunch, lighting a spliff while wood burned atop the flames of a crudely built fire (wait, I think I made that part up). Robert fishes for lunch. He fishes for a lovely snapper and fires up the crude grill that's on the sand just beyond Brice's main shack. The grill looks like it may fall apart at any moment and you can't believe such a delightful meal will come from such a clear and obvious hazard. He doesn't need much, just the fish, a bit of olive oil, a bit of butter, and frankly, whatever else is around.

I don't think I've ever had a grilled whole fish the way I have it in St. Martin. It's always grilled to perfection and tastes just like the sea. Brice opens a Heineken for me while we all pick apart our fish; our toes in the sand.

There is something so simple and honest about that lonely fish on a raw grill. It always made me long for that kind of instictive self reliance. Fearless participation in my own self sustinance. The ability to get down in there, use what you've got to create a wonderfully simple and delicious meal.

Every year (at least until the new airport was built) I stand in line in a little yellow and green shack waiting for my flight back to the mainland. Every year I feel nostalgic and already eager for the next year's visit. Thinking about all the things I didn't get to do or people I didn't get to see.

But mostly I'm content. The trip was worthwhile. I ran on the beach, picked a banana and fished for lunch. Then I think, I wonder if I can grab a Heineken before I board the plane?

Here in D.C., I don't have waters to fish from, so I head to The Wharf down on Maine street in Southwest. One of the last open air fish markets in the country, the seafood is fresh and the atmosphere is honest and real. Cesar tells me to come on Wednesdays and Fridays when the fish is right off the boat and there are a ton of choices. Shark? For real?

Whole Red Snapper (serves 2)

What you'll need:

fresh whole red snapper
olive oil
onion (i like a sweet red)
lemon thyme
black pepper
cayenne pepper
lemon slices

Open your cleaned whole fish and season with salt, freshly ground black pepper and cayenne. Tuck a few thinly sliced red onion and sprigs of lemon thyme inside the cavity and place a few small pats of butter atop, then close the fish gently. Slash the fish along its body for even cooking. Prepare your grill and ignite your coals. Brush the grill lightly with olive oil and place the snapper on the grill. Cover and let cook for about 5 minutes then uncover and cook for another 5 minutes. Flip the fish and follow the same instructions for the second side. Plate and serve with a few grilled plaintains, rice and beans, or cole slaw.

The Deal:
Calories: 363; Fat: 10.7g; Carbs: 3.4g; Protein: 59.8g

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