Thursday 21 March, 2019

5 funny impressions of St Lucia from an American

Prime Minister Allen Chastanet dancing at the Food & Rum Festival concert

Prime Minister Allen Chastanet dancing at the Food & Rum Festival concert

American news and culture website Uproxx recently posted a travel piece on an American writer Vince Mancini’s experience visiting St Lucia for this January’s Food and Rum Festival.

Mancini, who happened to meet Prime Minister Allen Chastanet at the festival, was quite taken with St Lucia and the experience, concluding the piece saying: “Do you have to fly halfway around the world to eat nice fish or drink fine Caribbean rum? Of course not. But once you’ve done it, experienced the thing under ideal circumstances, like a torchlit beach or a private cove, you’ll have that sense memory forever. And all it takes is a little rum or the smell of a stew to bring it rushing back. So maybe an “escape” or a “getaway” is the wrong word for it. Maybe it’s less about what you escape than the experiences you carry home.”

Here are five funny observations Mancini made about his visit to St Lucia:

1. “St. Lucia’s roads are narrow, and to the untrained eye would appear to only accommodate a single vehicle at a time. Yet the drivers here fly past each other in opposite directions, crossing mere inches apart. On the road through the mountain, there were big concrete gutters for water where the road’s shoulder would be, two or three feet down from the road and stretching another two or three feet across. I asked the driver whether people ever get cars stuck in the gutters and he gave a confused frown and said “no” as if it was the dumbest question he’d ever heard.”

2. “Everything is languidly paced and you never have to think too hard about what you’re going to wear. Not to mention the sonorous, lilting local accent — for St. Lucia, imagine Jamaican meets boarding school — which is impossible to hear without feeling at least a tiny bit more relaxed. “Pleasant” is really the only word for it. If I’m ever told I have inoperable brain cancer, I want the doctor delivering the news to hail from the Caribbean.”

3. “Yes, St. Lucia is the kind of place where the prime minister sidles up to you drinking rum (or rhum). Granted, “the kind of guy you could have a drink with” has long been an impression many politicians have worked hard to cultivate, usually for nefarious purposes, but rarely had I seen one prove it up close. The prime minister of St. Lucia is the kind of guy who puts a catcher’s mitt-sized paw on your shoulder while he talks and genuinely seems to be listening to what you have to say. The first thing you notice about him, after the fact that he’s white and quite large, is that he’s Canadian. Or at least, sounds Canadian. “I went to high school in Montreal,” he admitted when I asked, making me feel extra smart for noticing.”

4. “Now, I knew who Marcus Samuelsson was, as a food television junkie who has seen him guest judge everything from Chopped to Top Chef. But he’s the kind of celebrity I would have to explain to friends, more of a face you recognize than a name you recognize. I’m here to tell you: the man is huge in St. Lucia. Massive. Rarely would 10 minutes pass without the emcee praising him anew from the music tent.

“And again, special rrrround of applause to owah special guest, MISTAH! (*reggae horn*) MAH-CUS! (*reggae horn*) SAM-YOU-WEL-SAHN! (*loooooong reggae hooooorn*) Yes, big up to Mah-cus Sam-you-well-sahn, you may know him from! …Top Chef Mastahs! Chopped! and all ovah di Food Net-wahrk…” (*deafening cheers*)”

5. Our emcee was presiding over a Chopped-style bartending battle, where the contestants were given a series of ingredients and challenged to include them all into a cocktail highlighting velvety smooth Admiral Rodney rum, from St. Lucia Distillers. After enthusiastically bigging up each contestant — to a smattering of half-hearted applause — he went on to introduce each ingredient of the challenge, so pumped by each that you’d think they were members of the Wu-Tang. Nor was he deterred by an unfamiliar ingredient. “An’ ‘ere we ‘ave da… CHINESE STAR!” he boomed, holding up a pod of star anise. “To be honest I am not too fah-mil-yahr wit dis one, but I’m shahr dese fine gen-tall-man will know what to do wit it. (*reggae horn*)”.

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