My nose has been running for nearly an hour. Too much information, and certainly not food-related, you think? The root cause of the gentle stinging, near numbness and heightened sense of individual molecules passing over my tongue is a mere teaspoonful of B’s Mango Chutney, direct from Orient Bay, St. Martin.
Clockwise from upper left: (1) B’s tamarind chutney, and the (2) label promoting her support of local animals. (3) A veritable plethora of ways to torment your tongue, palate and lips with a medley of scotch bonnet peppers, chili peppers, and local fruits. (4) The View Point liquor and spice store, open for business, with one of the best views of Orient Bay and the eastern shores of St. Martin.
My story of B and her eye-watering condiments goes back about a year, when we last visited St. Martin and I decided to stop into her long, narrow literal storefront as the rest of the family browsed the other shops on View Point. It was a rainy, somewhat dreary day, and local vendors believe that your first customer sets the tone for the day – so I felt encouraged and empowered to buy something. A small taste of the tamarind chutney left me wanting a plate of eggs and perhaps some BBQ ribs on which to slather it, so I bought a jar. For $15. When my wife discovered what I’d paid for a small jar of local color, not discounting for (what I discovered later) was a large percentage of tamarind seeds, she questioned my sanity. I had visions of something out of a Neil Gaiman novel – the stuff of Creole legends visited upon me if I didn’t follow through and set a good retail example for the day.
A year later, I got to talk to Bernadine (the B in B’s Local Spices) a bit more. She personally tends to local animals, supporting the wild dogs, feral cats, local yellow breasted birds (reminiscent of our own Jersey state bird), and six dozen chickens. The proceeds from her retail operation really do support local animals. She is as gentle and caring as her chutneys are intense and vicious on the tongue. The mango chutney I added to the collection combines hot peppers, mangos, and a local fruit she calls a pomserat, essentially a small, green apple like, sour fruit that complements and enhances the acidity of the peppers.
I’m stocked up for another year, with enough island heat to offset the depths of a Jersey winter.