I have always travelled on my stomach. Actually, that's not quite true. The only times i've travelled on my stomach have been when i've been lying down sliding down something at a great rate of – generally uncontrolled – knots, such as a sand dune. What I mean is that i love to try out the local food and delicacies wherever I go.
Admittedly, this has led to me tying some very strange things in my time (live scorpion on a stick is probably the most unlikely, and silk worm larvae the strangest tasting), but I have always believed that regardless of how evil these things may sound, It has to be worth a try.
St. Helena is spoiling me.
There are no particularly strange foods here, but lots of damned good ones. The standard of fish – and I love my seafood – has been superb and there is variety as well: Tuna, Wahoo and Marlin are the most frequent, but other fish are also available, whilst St. Helena fish cakes (which often include a good sprinkling of chillies) are rightly considered a highlight. I have not yet been entirely convinced by tomato paste sandwiches, despite their omnipotent-ness, although they can be pretty good. I think the thing that gets me is that everybody makes their own tomato paste, yet finding an actual tomato can be nigh on impossible.
Pilau (or Ploe, as it is widely known), on the other hand is the sort of food that i can more or less shovel down as much as is put in front of me. It's basically a dish of curried rice, with chillies, onions, veg and bits of pork or chicken mixed in. It sounds fairly mundane, I know, but it is more than the sum of it's parts, and really really good.
The local beef, pork and chicken and their products are fantastic, and the ubiquitous Braai give ample opportunity to get good barbecued sausages, steaks and chicken legs.
And then there are the desserts. I've never been a big one for desserts and have no sweet tooth, but the pumpkin fritters are universally fantastic, the (normally bright pink) coconut fingers are wonderful, and there are vast amounts of marvellous home-made ice-cream and cakes made every week. One cousin makes 4 or 5 large cakes every week, and yet they still seem to run out frequently.
In fact, i reckon i could happily live off Pilau, St. Helena fish cakes and tuna, with the occasional braai thrown in for variety.
Add to that the wonderful local fruit (when you can get it) and hugely sought after local coffee, and I am a happy man. So happy, in fact, that half of my clothes no longer really fit...
I still haven't found a mushroom though.