The Spice Necklace Blog

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Les Iles des Saintes and Dominica:
May 15, 2012:
Baguettes and the gòspo truth

“I went in [to town] just before lunch for a baguette today and had to wait 20 minutes (along with half the town) for a batch to be finished,” my friend Barb on Tusen Takk II emailed me last week from Les Iles des Saintes. “I swear there is nothing more delicious than a fresh baguette.” I totally agree – except I would add: “especially when it’s slathered in good French sweet butter.” (A pound or two of Elle & Vire’s “Noisy” brand is a splurge for me when we’re in the French islands.) We spent a week in The Saints on our way north in early April, and then another on our way south this month, and we couldn’t seem to make it through a day without a baguette run. (A run usually consisted of two baguettes, the first one never even making it back to the boat intact.) Handily, “Ti Santois,” our boulangerie of choice, is even open on Sundays (albeit just for a half-day).

But when we strolled in a few Sundays ago, the baguette rack was barren. No worries – our noses told us a fresh batch was baking. “Dix minutes,” said the friendly woman who served us almost every day.

Timing is everything: In the Ti Santois boulangerie, on a good day

Okay, we’ve been in the Caribbean for a while now. We know 10 minutes doesn’t really mean 10 minutes. So we continued our stroll down the main street, stopping to watch a honey of a new wooden sailboat being rigged on the beach. (It had been built in the traditional Santoise style – likely of local ylang-ylang wood – and fitted with a wooden mast and an improbably long bamboo boom, complete with sweet mast hoops made of twisted vines.) And then we strolled back to the boulangerie. Less than 20 minutes had passed, so I assumed we’d still have a bit of a wait.

Au contraire. I guess we foreigners are the only ones who don’t know the concept of island time doesn’t extend to fresh baguettes. The baguettes were not only out of the oven, they were completely sold out. Quel dommage! I had to find something else for my French butter.

Triple threat: My excuse was that we were
having guests that evening.

Next stop after Les Saintes was Portsmouth, Dominica, where the weather gods deemed we could stay for market day, Saturday. Every time I shop in an island market, I try to buy something new to us. And this time, it was gòspo, which look like overgrown, puckered oranges. The name comes from the French grosse peau, rough skin, and the fruit has a bitter/sour edge, like a cross between an orange and a grapefruit, with a hint of lemon. The market lady said I should use them for juice, and squeezed half of one to show me how much it would yield. Wow, what a deal. Six of these big guys cost the equivalent of 75 cents.

Pucker up: Even though we love unsweetened grapefruit juice,
we needed sugar in our gòspo

Martin Carrierre, our guide to all things Dominican, stopped by the boat later that morning as I was washing and putting away my market haul. “These are the middleman,” he said, pointing to my gòspo. “They fill the gap in the season between grapefruit and oranges, and they’re very good for you – full of Vitamin C.

“Plus, they stimulate the appetite.”

Ah. Just what I needed after a week in the land of baguettes and butter.

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One comment on “Les Iles des Saintes and Dominica:
May 15, 2012:
Baguettes and the gòspo truth

  1. Natalie on said:

    Oh my good gravy, er, bonne sauce, I cannot believe that 10 minute meant 10 minutes on any island! What is up with that?

    Perhaps you should pick up a fourth baguette, in case of gospo appetite stimulation. Particularly with Steve on board. That and some MasMas bars, which I tried but failed to find during our last trip to the Bahamas. Very disappointing, but at least we haven’t access to gospos. Always a delight to visit your site, Ann.

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