Monday Meal Review: Trinidad and Tobago

This week, gorgeous Trinidad and Tobago helped me question what was real about my relationship in a way I’d never thought about before. The timing couldn’t have been better, since Keith and I just celebrated our fifth wedding anniversary.

The lesson came in an unlikely form: The Swiss Family Robinson.

The Swiss Family Robinson was filmed in Tobago in 1960.  The filmmaker, Ken Annakin, emphasized how perfect the location was for shooting…  After visiting countless less-than-desirable locations, they called Tobago “love at first sight.”

It was beautiful. It was serene. The island was everything they’d been looking for.

And yet – even with this “love at first sight” location – they still flew in countless animals from around the world (think elephants, cranes, parrots, tigers, anacondas, and more), to build the ambiance of the film. They still constructed their own set in Tobago, bending the location to suit their needs.

All this was done to make the story of a shipwrecked family seem more real.

I thought about this story, while my stew chicken simmered. A few questions kept popping back up:

– Is love at first sight enough? Is it appropriate to tend, enhance, or even outright modify our love… to make it feel more real?

– Should we be bending and modifying our loves to suit our needs?

– And, really, how much of our love story is fabricated, just like a movie set, a construct to project an image to the outside world, much like a film projects a image (which may or may not be real) to its viewers.

Thanks to Trinidad and Tobago for prompting the questions.  As usual, I don’t have all the answers. But I do know this:

Love is love, and you’ll know it when you have it. Because, when you have the real deal, your heart gives a little gasp of recognition.

What you do with that love is up to you.

Happy Anniversary, to my love at first sight.

Here’s to another five.

View of the Five Islands, Carrera Island and Point Gourde near in Chaguaramas, Trinidad. Photo by Jean-Marc /Jo BeLo/Jhon-John from Caracas, Venezuela.

View of the Five Islands, Carrera Island and Point Gourde near in Chaguaramas, Trinidad. Photo by Jean-Marc /Jo BeLo/Jhon-John from Caracas, Venezuela.


Easy Orange Juice Rice [Recipe]

What I loved most about this dish:

Fresh orange juice doesn’t just give the rice a squeeze of bright, tropical flavor; it paints the grains of rice the most lovely pale orange. This dish is a great conversation starter and wonderful in an environment where a burst of sweetness is needed – as with spicy food.  Ava couldn’t quite figure out why her rice tasted like juice, but Keith gobbled it right up. They both fell into line once they ate a bite of the spice with the rice.

What I loved least about this dish:

As fun as this recipe is, and as perfect as it is with spicy food, I can’t eat the rice by itself.  It’s just a bit too sweet for me – I think half water or broth would create a nicer balance of flavor.


Caribbean Stewed Chicken [Recipe]

What I loved most about this dish:

I loved everything about stew chicken. This is one of the rare cases where I felt like I was eating a restaurant dish at home, in the sense that it was packed with layer upon layer of flavor. The best part? How easy it was to throw together. The brown sugar trick makes browning the chicken ridiculously easy.  Everyone loved it, even Ava (though it was a bit spicy for her).

What I loved least about this dish:



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