Some T'ings Nah Change!


On The Porch With Miss Ina - Hard Labor, St. John USVI

Island life in the West Indies is mostly wonderful - it could always be wonderful if not for the occasional hurricane - because of the delightful people and their colorful, island ways.  Sadly, though, it seems much of the old, traditional culture is becoming forgotten as the young folks seek to become more cosmopolitan in their ways, but still it's possible to find an island elder who will be generous with his or her stories.

Here is an actual conversation I overheard between my West Indian brother, Hendry and his mom, Miss Ina (91 years young!), upon our return home with two fish we caught while out deep sea fishing with Mr. Aidan:

Miss Ina: "Wha' you got in de bag, Hendry?"

Hendry: "We caught us two nice fish today, Mom".

Miss Ina: "Wha' kine fish you got dere?"

Hendry: "We caught a mahi-mahi and a rainbow runner."

Miss Ina: "Wha' dis 'mahi-mahi'? No such t'ing as dis ‘mahi-mahi’, mi-son."

Hendry: (emphatically) "That's what we have here, mom, a mahi-mahi. I'll clean it up and Genny will cook it nice so can have some for supper tonight."

Miss Ina: (angrily) "Yah nah got mahi-mahi, mon. No such t'ing mahi-mahi I tellin' you! Let me look a' it. (She peers into the large burlap sack). Dat fish a hardnose. I know hardnose. I tellin' you Hendry, you don' know nuttin' ‘bout fish!"

Hendry: (softening a bit) "Mom, things change. This fish is called a mahi-mahi."

Miss Ina: (now standing up, brandishing her cane and raising her voice) "Hendry, maybe you t'ings change, but FISH DON' CHANGE! Dat HARDNOSE!"

Whatever it is named, a truce was called and the fish was rolled in corn meal and fried up nice and brown with some plaintains, served with stewed guava, fungi (a West Indian cornmeal and okra dish, similar to polenta), salad and washed down with cold, homemade maube (a local beverege made of roots, herbs and molasses - each family has its own favorite recipe). The whole mahi-mahi thing blew over as quickly as an evening shower.


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