I moved to St Helena a few years ago with my husband and 2 sons. Before the move my passion for cooking was easily supported by some fabulous UK retailers who could supply the best of ingredients from all over the world: Fairtrade, free range, farm fresh - no problem!! So catering for a dinner party meant the joy of combing through all my favourite cook books for exciting dishes and with the most exotic ingredients. The rarer the better - that would mean I could spend hours in my favourite Asian grocers or Italian deli I would gather together my hoard of treasures and head home for a day in the kitchen.
Not anymore! St Helena is paradise, the most beautiful place on earth but some of the things that make it so unique and wonderful make it a culinary hell for the newly arrived
First of all it is remote, 1,200 miles from the nearest continental land mass (Namibia) and 700 miles from the nearest airport (The military base on Ascension Island). So any imported food has to travel a minimum of 4 days and usually 8 days by ship, most of the food comes via Cape Town.
Next there are less than 4,000 of us living on out 47 square miles of tropical paradise. Freight costs are huge and we are not self-sufficient in any food stuffs. There is no dairy all milk is UHT and imported. Cream rarely if ever gets imported we have tinned stuff (cannot heat it, cannot whip it!!) and every now and then cartons of Elmlea appear in the chillers for a matter of seconds before they are snapped up by those of us desperate for creme brule or a carbonara.
I could go on but I will save some of the pain for later postings. Suffice to say that I have really had to do what Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and other foodies have said all along - go out see what's in the shop and then decide what to cook.
This blog is about the "River Cottage" experience on a tropical Island and the wonderful food that can be created without Parmesan, truffles or in dead any fresh mushrooms.