The 15th Annual Bordeaux Farmer’s Rastafari Agricultural and Cultural Food Fair took place this weekend in Bordeaux, on the far western side of the island. For an island this size, the geographies are surprisingly diverse. The western side is stunning, with dramatic cliffs and rugged views down to the pounding surf and across to the islands of Culebra and Vieques. There’s one main road that leads to Bordeaux with twists and turns and steep drop-offs, until suddenly you come into what I would imagine a suburban New Zealand town looks like: tidy one-story houses, neatly manicured lawns, and pretty fences on a sort of grassy flat plateau. You don’t get lawns or a suburban feeling like that anywhere else on the island. The west end of St. Thomas is also where the majority of the Rastafarian population lives and farms.
We got there in time for lunch, because any event of this kind will have amazing food. The saying “ital is vital,” (‘eye-taaal is vi-taaal’ – and say it slowly), which I heard repeated several times, has to do with the Rasta belief about the purity of food enriching life. All their food is grown naturally without any pesticides and prepared using no additives, colorings, preservatives, or sometimes even salt (although they use many other wonderful spices). “Health is wealth’ is another common expression. The hardcore Rasta food (at least the St. Thomas contingent) is not only super healthy and traditionally very vegetarian, but is also really good and incredibly flavorful (okay, so you must like vegetables, but I am an unabashed carnivore and it had me wanting to find recipes). We had for lunch: red pea soup (AKA red kidney beans); vegetable and tofu stew over brown rice and red peas (again, kidney beans); sorrel (part of the hibiscus family), guava, and lime juices to drink (we had to try at least three); and for dessert, soursop cake. I wanted to go back for seconds, but got too busy chasing the Babies (who actually managed to sit still and eat for a bit– again, it was THAT good). Besides eating, we wandered around and looked at all the stalls, bought honey and sorrel vinegar, listened to music – both live and DJ-ed, and had a fun, relaxing, and ‘different’ day (the beach does sometimes get old – all that sand to clean up afterwards). BG and BB also made little bracelets with all the traditional Rasta colors; I gather there was some Rasta man showing older kids how to braid leather, and a very nice woman took pity on the little ones who were too young and brought out a big box of beads for them – whoever you are, thank you! The only things I would change? I would have tried all the different juice flavors, and I would have left the double stroller in the car – pulling it through the deep gravel at the fair was no joke, and we certainly stood out. Hello, ‘Stateside’… There is a monthly Bordeaux Farmer’s Market that we will most certainly be going to in the future – just without the stroller.