Food, Glorious Food

img_1383.jpg

One of the goals of our group was getting the chance to eat local food.  We thought, if we were lucky, we might be able to stop by a restaurant or stand on a non-research day to sample local delicacies like goat milk and breadfruit.  We hoped we might get to find out if a meal influenced by French, African, an Indian food might be as good as it sounds. What we didn’t know is that ITME has a phenomenal chef named Miss Connie, who would be cooking us local delicacies three meals a day. 

Breakfasts here will seem very familiar to readers in the U.S.: yogurt, granolas, eggs, and toast.  The local flavor comes from the special extras like papaya jelly, fresh pineapple, and passion fruit juice.  Most of our lunches have been on the road and have consisted of interesting sandwich combinations like tuna salad with ham, or cheese with garlic mayonnaise.

The real event of the day for many of us, though, is Miss Connie’s dinner.  Each night she creates truly incredible buffets consisting of a main dish such as slow-baked chicken legs or tuna steaks.  Accompanying them are Indian-influenced side dishes including curried lentils with fried dascheen (a root vegetable akin to potato), or chickpeas in tomato sauce served on saffron rice.  Side dishes span from traditional produce, such as plantains, and newly-cultivated crops including cabbage, carrots, lettuce, and tomatoes.  Miss Connie has the ability to make these basic ingredients seems special each night by creating infinite varieties of salads ranging from plantain, fig, and corn, to cabbage dishes that seem a little like a coleslaw. 

As good as all this food is, many of us have picked a new entree as our favorite dish: Giraumon Soup.  This broth-based soup begins with chicken or vegetable stock.  Miss Connie purees it with roasted pumpkin, then adds cubed potatoes, green beans, and homemade dumplings.  Her secret ingredient for this and other dishes is what she calls “naturals”.   Each day, Miss Connie fills a large blender with chives, onion, garlic, celery tops, cilantro, and a few secret ingredients.  She purees this mixture until it forms a thick paste, then adds it to the soups or tops our fish with it.

Out of respect for limited natural resources and the island ecology, ITME has a “Clean Plate Club.”  Sascha, the director, warned us that there would be public shaming for anyone who took a greater portion than he or she could eat.  So far, that has most certainly not been a problem!

img_1679.jpg

Advertisements

Duffle Shuffle

shuffle.jpg

There was a lot of excited energy in the room on our last day of class.  That could have been because Professor Emma Creaser brought in donuts with extra glaze.  It also could have been because we were conducting our trip bag shuffle.  This process lets everyone double check their gear before the trip, and helps to make sure that we’ll have everything we need for eight days in Dominica.  Running down the gear list and watching the growing pile of stuff on our lab tables, I was consistently reminded of the nature of our trip: snorkel, fins, ankle and foot protection for coral reefs?  Check.  We’re going to need them for our days of marine observation.  These, and other items like sunscreen, hats, and flip-flops seemed out of place next to the snowy Maine landscape, but they’ll serve us well on the tropical island.  And just in case anyone had forgotten that we’re traveling to a country very far away, our requisite DEET (to fight against malaria), travel inoculations, outlet adaptors and passports were good reminders: we’re going to be a long way from Central Maine.

Everyone did a great job packing and anticipating the various situations we might encounter while on island.  Now the learning community will enjoy a few days of much-deserved rest and relaxation, before heading out Wednesday afternoon for Boston.  We’ll write more from there.

Talk to you soon!

About Unity College

Unity College is a one-of-a-kind private college located in the small rural town of Unity, Maine. The campus bustles with active students, faculty, and staff all focusing their passions for the outdoors towards creating an incredible undergraduate experience. The hands-on education here is unlike any other, where the lakes, mountains, bogs, Atlantic ocean, and even roadside streams are all your classrooms. Your hands get dirty and your boots most definitely get muddy. Programs of study range from Environmental Writing to Wildlife Biology to Adventure Education. The opportunities that lie within such a close-knit community are endless as they engage students in their quest to become environmental stewards.

Allison Hall Visitors Center

Welcome to the Tropical Marine Learning Community Field Blog

dominica-island.jpg

Greetings, and thanks for stopping by!

This blog will recount the research and travels of the Unity College Tropical Marine Ecology Learning Community as we travel to the Institute for Tropical Marine Ecology (ITME) in Rosseau, Dominica, March 13th-22nd.  While there, students will apply their understanding of marine ecology and science writing to create a blog that explores issues including coral ecology, biome populations, and technical writing.  We think it’s going to be great, so check back often!