Thursday, December 15, 2016

La Case à Glace

Martinique was an interesting port. Most of the people on the ship with us absolutely hated it there, constantly complaining that there was nothing to do, everything was closed, no one spoke English, and more. Fort-de-France wasn't a very developed cruise port compared to some of the others we had visited, but we felt like people were being a little bit unfair. Sure, being in Martinique was a little more challenging, especially if you didn't speak French, but why should you expect every person you meet in another country to speak English? Yes, things seemed to close early because it was a Saturday (which meant I couldn't mail my postcard), but you can't expect people to change their entire culture and lifestyle just because your ship decides to show up. The refusal of so many people on the ship to push their boundaries and accept a different way of doing things aggravated us so much (and not just in relation to Martinique).

Anyway, back to our day in Martinique. We had planned from the start to go to the beach, knowing that it was one of the things we could definitely do on a Saturday. We had heard some good things about Anse Mitan, so that was our intended destination. After a brief walk around town, we got on a ferry to the beaches which was going to stop there and also at Anse à l'Ane. Despite our original plan, we ended up going to Anse à l'Ane instead because the majority of the ferry got off at Anse Mitan and in addition to the crowds, we weren't feeling drawn to it. Anse à l'Ane was quieter, had far less people, and was a much more peaceful beach day for us. The weather wasn't perfect; it was cloudy and sprinkled a bit, but it was nice to just relax on the beach and do nothing for a little while.

Eventually we decided to eat lunch. There weren't a ton of options on the beach, but we saw a bunch of people, including some who looked like locals, at one of the beachside restaurants called La Case à Glace. We were pretty excited about lunch, partially because things on other tables looked good, partially because we were hungry, and partially because it would give us an opportunity to attempt to communicate in French. I don't speak a ton of French, and my pronunciation is horrible, but I had tried to practice a little bit before our Martinique day, knowing that we wouldn't have internet and couldn't completely rely on our phone apps.

We scanned the menus (all in French) and tried to figure out what to order. I asked for the poulet au coco (coconut chicken), since that sounded good and I knew what it meant. The server (in French) told me that I shouldn't get that but instead the colombo de poulet. I had no idea what that was but agreed. They were the same price, so it wasn't like she was trying to get more money out of us. What arrived was a plate of rice with a little salad and a big bowl of chicken curry, three drumsticks with potatoes and carrots. The chicken was wonderful, very soft and tender, and it just fell off the bones. The curry sauce had a lot of flavor but not as much spice as we thought it would from the aroma and look of it. I was pretty happy with my meal, especially considering I had absolutely no idea what it was going to be. But that's part of the fun of eating a meal in a new country for us, being surprised by how great something is that you have no expectations about.

A ordered the plat du jour (daily special), which was the poulet boucané. That was even better than my chicken curry. It was a smoked, barbecued chicken thigh and leg that was topped with chopped vegetables for which we have no better description than that it was a like a French pico de gallo. It also came with rice, green beans, and a small salad. The flavor of the chicken was so good, just a perfect amount of smokiness that wasn't overpowering. The rice for both of us was fluffy and nicely seasoned, maybe made with chicken broth. This smoked chicken was so good, and we tried to savor every bite since we knew we would never be able to replicate it at home. We've found a recipe online that looks similar, but there's no way we can get those flavors with the equipment we have. Looking it up, we learned that it seems to be a style of cooking out of the French Caribbean islands like Guadeloupe, so it was perfect that we were able to enjoy it on our Martinique day.

Overall we had a nice time in Martinique. It wasn't our favorite port but we actually appreciated it for being unfamiliar and different. It's one of the things we like the most about visiting other countries - being out of our element, expanding our horizons, exercising the foreign language sections of our brains (and even better, without sacrificing any physical comforts). This meal did all of those things. There were people at a neighboring table that tried to talk with us, and our French wasn't nearly good enough for that, but they seemed nice. I was able to understand and answer the server when she asked if we wanted any dessert like ice cream (which we declined, despite the name of the restaurant). We managed to order and check for food allergies in French.

Then there was the fact that I had no idea how to ask for the bill in French and we sat around for a while trying to figure it out (and also wondering why we hadn't thought to look it up in advance) until we just walked up to the register to pay with some other people. Even though this meal was just as long ago as our other Quantum entries, it's obvious that this experience imprinted on us much more than many of those, and the entire reason is because of the way it affected us as people, pushing us out of our comfort zone. Isn't that part of what travel is all about?

No comments:

Post a Comment