Yours truly has posted nothing recently. Not in February, and March is starting slow too. Why, you might wonder, does it appear that Baking Family has turned off the oven and left the kitchen?
Well, because for a while at least I did. My beloved-beloved and I went on the first “real” vacation we’ve had in a couple of years. “Real” meaning we were not with family or in a family house, and we were someplace that is not on our normal collection of beaten paths. And most importantly, “real” meaning well and truly unplugged.
And was our target a known foodie destination, a Paris or Barcelona or Florence?
No, we went to the Bahamas. We went for light in chilly, dark February and for play, for a bit of reminiscing at the remote island resort where we got engaged. What we found — in addition to sun and fun — was food. First-class, stunning seafood prepared by a Bahamian chef. Night after night (and lunch after lunch) of the freshest dishes, sauced with peppers and herbs rather than cream and butter. Coconut-based soups served in coconut shells that we watched being whacked off the tree that very afternoon. Lobster salads consisting of spiny beasts speared on our morning snorkel.
In most cases, desserts paled in light of the divine first and second courses. There was one dessert that seemed true and pure, a mix of colonial influence and island ingredients: Guava duff, a roll of cakey dough around a fruity filling, topped with a rich custard. Plum pudding meets tropical fruit. The duff came towards the end of our time on the island. By then, we were fine with less on the dessert front: We had replaced sweets at the end of the meal with sugar in the cocktail hour, weaving our way through the variety of rums offered at our well-stocked resort. Maxine mixed a mean mango daiquiri.
The effect of a well-catered week on a sunny but agriculturally poor island, where all that you eat must come by boat or from the waters in front of you, was to reset our eating habits. When we touched down on the mainland again, I did not leap back into testing and updating my grandmother’s dessert recipes; my beloved-beloved did not take up his nearly nightly taste of white chocolate (I know, I know, I’ve told him it’s not chocolate).
It was refreshing to be somewhere so different, and to take a new look at food. One of the great advantages of this world is that we can see so much from our chairs. One of the disadvantages is that we don’t always get out of those chairs and experience other places firsthand. I’m still carrying a little bit of the Bahamas with me, though I’m not trying to recreate the daily five o’clock rum drink. I’ll jump back into desserts soon.