The question asked at a restaurant on Bequia is not whether the fish is fresh, but how fresh. In some restaurants, you needn’t even ask as at Mango’s there was a tank full of live lobsters and they’d butcher them just for you upon ordering. That’s why when I tell you I had pizza on the island you may think that’s a sacrilege in a place where the freshest things come straight from the sea, or Doris’ garden.
But truly, to experience the island of Bequia is to sample everything on it, pizza included. While I lived off papaya and local yogurt for breakfast and fresh mahi mahi, tuna or lobster for dinner, I still snuck in a lunch at Pizza Hut.
The pizza, while by no means a rival of New York City slices, held its own on an island with few competitors. That, and I was hungry. The dough wasn’t great– it tasted as if it had been frozen and thawed — but the sauce and cheese were good in a minimalistic sense. I didn’t taste a lot of herbs or spices, rather it was more along the lines of what you see is what you get. If you felt like tomato, cheese and dough you’d be happy with it. And, you know what, I was! I’m not a fan of Pizza Hut here in the States, but this Pizza Hut was quite popular with locals and tourists alike, and for what I presume to be two distinctly different reasons.
For me, pizza is reminiscent of home. Pizza is an American past time, just as whaling and fishing is for Bequians. Pizza making and consuming is steeped in tradition and even my own childhood is full of memories of sharing pizza around the dinner table with family.
For the natives on the island, I believe it’s this foreign nature of the food that interests them most. While most local markets and restaurants serve fresh mangoes, coconuts, Asian-inspired foods like Roti, fresh conch, grilled fish and more, this pizza joint offers a quick, cheap alternative which speaks to a culture those in the Caribbean did not grow up with. For locals, foreign anything is intriguing and for foreigners it’s familiarity we sometimes crave. I wasn’t looking to try something new the day I tried the pizza on Bequia. Rather, I was looking to try something I knew.