One thing about me is that I happen to be a foodie. I love food. I love to eat it. I love to talk about it. I love to cook it. I love to look at it. I love to take pictures of it, and I love to look at pictures of it. There is a lot I avoid because of food sensitivities, but I still find a way to enjoy good food– the food I eat is just a lot simpler now.
And I never ever miss a meal.
So when I realized my lunch options were very limited, I just had deal with it. Our routine in Vieques brought me back to a question I’ve asked myself before. Was I in a groove or a rut? Each day after we finished our morning ritual at Belly Buttons, we’d head straight to the beach. With the exception of Sun Bay beach, the beaches are isolated enough that it was worth our while to bring “lunch” with us. At the entrance of the US Fish and Wildlife Reserve is a food truck called Sol Food. It gets rave reviews on-line, so we had hoped to grab lunch there and throw it in the cooler provided by our condo. As luck (or lack of planning) would have it, Sol Food was closed all 3 days we were there. In fact, many restaurants on the island were closed from Sunday to Wednesday.
In general, I was less than impressed with the food in Puerto Rico. I have had some terrific meals at Puerto Rican restaurants in the US (Sol Food in San Rafael, California.) My hopes were high for Caribbean-influenced food and strong flavors merged with the simplicity of beans, rice, and plantains. Instead, there was an abundance of American food. I guess that’s not too surprising considering it is US territory, but I was hoping that a little more of the local flair would shine through. Maybe it was because much was closed on the days we were there, but I did experience it in San Juan too. I want to be wrong, so if I am, someone please tell me where this food is on the island.
So this is what we ate for lunch……with hummus. It was slightly more satisfying than just plain dry chips. Luckily these yuca chips were quite exceptional– the perfect cassava flavor with a light crispy crunch! The mealy Red Delicious apples from Washington didn’t cut it though. Being someone who needs 3 meals a day, this was tough, but there was no way I was leaving that beach!
The local beer, Medalla Light, was a
perfect necessary complement to this “meal.” The cans here are small– only 10 ounces. Apparently it is so the beer doesn’t have a chance to get warm. Good reason. Where did we find this extravagant lunch? The Green Store. The Green Store is the only “grocery” store in the town of Esperanza. They are open every day while the main grocery store on the island is closed on Sundays– the day we arrived. We found the strangest variety of foods there. They had several brands of hummus and miscellaneous spreads, but only 1 or 2 of each brand. They had some really wonderful and exotic goat cheeses, but only 1 or 2. We found the giant mixed nut containers you can buy at Costco along with a few other completely random Costco things. There was a large variety of canned foods, almost no fresh fruits (mealy apples from Washington) or veggies, and a small variety of shoddy looking frozen meats. The big grocery store in town was slightly better, but not by much.
So here we were, with very limited lunch options. Those of you that can eat bread won’t run into the same problems here. While this foodie can’t tolerate lunch this way for very long, I dealt with it for a few days. Any longer and my groove would certainly start to feel like a rut; but knowing that my time was so limited, I’d make those sacrifices for just a few more hours on that beach.