There is a tasty, crispy golden-brown tradition in Grenada I feel should be spread across the world: a weekly fish fry that takes place island-wide every Friday evening. “Fry” is misleading, however, as there is plenty of grilling, possibly broiling and sautéing as well, definitely steaming and baking and lots of drinking, and everyone participates. No matter where you go on a Friday, whether passing through St. Georges on the way back to the Hotel Flamboyant, or dabbling your feet in the teal waters at BBC Beach, you’ll see the trademark Grenadian grills made from metal barrels fired up, pots of oil bubbling away, and hundreds of grinning, well-fed faces.
Without a doubt, the best (and most) fish is served up in Gouyave (pronounced gwav), a small fishing village about three quarters of the way up the west coast of the island. Grenada’s own “city that never sleeps”, Gouyave’s Friday night fish fry tradition is famous throughout the entire landmass. Internet lore has it that a couple of Gouyave’s sons were even awarded medals by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II for excellence in fishing, so, that’s cool, right? Right??!
We had rented a car the day before from J & B Auto Rentals to explore the island. It is by far the best way to get around, and they were very accommodating and modestly priced with a nice fleet. It was an absolute blast driving up and down the steep mountainsides, driving on the left side, no less, on tiny two-way roads barely big enough for one car, let alone two.
This was the longest drive I had to make, from the True Blue Bay Resort, where we were staying at the extreme south end of the island, up the west coast to Gouyave. It was early evening but very dark; night in the tropics seems to be darker than anywhere else, and there isn’t much light pollution in Grenada. I could have used a little more light pollution maybe. The headlights weren’t so bright and there is no such thing as a good road map of Grenada, not one that matches up with the actual roads anyway. We drove on and on, farther than it seems like we should on an island that’s only 22 miles long. I hoped every cluster of lights we saw in the distance would be Gouyave’s famous fish fry, but each time we reached them it was only some other, less famous fish fry. And we at the Anti Tourist are all about the authentic experience, the real deal, so on we drove.
Unfortunately, after about an hour, the road ended. It was dark; it was inky. I drove tentatively beyond the “Road Closed” sign but it was unnavigable. And so we went back again, thinking we’d missed the town; we hadn’t; we drove back again towards the closed road, thinking we’d missed a turn; we hadn’t. This time another car pulled up close to us and stopped when I waved them down.
“Is this the way to Gouyave?” I asked the driver in the other car, motioning to the closed road. The driver was a young guy, cocky: “Just follow me, I take you there.” He drove around the “Road Closed” sign and somehow managed to pick his way through the potholes and washed out portions of the road. It was only about a mile, but the road was closed for a reason. Thank god for our little Suzuki Jeep, which handled the obstacles much better than I hoped. I guess I’m used to driving our ’96 Accord (268,000 miles so far! Cross your fingers, we’re driving it to Texas as we speak…) which can’t handle anything, anything at all.
And there we were! There was activity in the streets. Everyone was out and about, dancing and singing and mouths full of fish. Vendors lined St. Francis and St. Dominic Streets with all their fish-cooking equipment. And oh god, the fish: fish cakes, kebabs, jerk marlin, barbecued snapper, fry jacks, lobster, conch, and the best, the absolute best coconut shrimp that have ever found their way into my mouth. We were lucky enough to randomly run into someone we already knew, a man named Roger who is the best guy to know on the whole island. If you need a guy who knows everyone, everything, and probably could get you out of any sticky situation you may find yourself in, you need Roger. On this night we only needed him to recommend us some fish, but if I were kidnapped by ne’er-do-wells, I’d call Roger.
In addition to all the seafood, there is always Carib and Stag to be had, as well as a variety of Grenadian rums. You can also buy the ubiquitous spices and cocoa anywhere you look, and we did! We got one of everything and ate it ALL. I highly recommend you do the same.
By: Ben Britz