I just returned from a week in Aruba, (my first!) Overall, I was gravely disappointed in the food. First, the discovery that most of the seafood was shipped in from other islands or, worse, from Florida, depressed me to the core. Here I was snorkeling among millions of snapper and not a one to eat!
I tried to find the fish market at the harbor marked on my map. (I was staying in an apartment with a decently equipped kitchen). Turns out, the market is gone. The only remnant is the mark on the map. What did the woman in the boutique where the market once existed suggest? That I go to the Ling and Sons Supermarket, as they have the best fish. (My other choice was to go to the point where the few remaining fishing boats dock and purchase a fish to clean myself. Now, I said the kitchen was stocked, but I was not equipped for that).
So I tried a few fish restaurants. I did not have a single enjoyable meal in a single hotel restaurant. But I did enjoy a lovely evening at the ill-named Gasparito's and enjoyed a respectable piece of freshly caught Grouper at Madame Janette's. (I also fell in love with the wine list at Madame Janette's).
But my best meal was on Eagle Beach. I was sent to find Mrs. Kelly's snack truck upon recommendation of the tourism office. And my adventure was rewarded. Mrs. Kelly is warm and bubbly and is expert at all the traditional creole foods once found in Aruban homes. (The kind of food that has lost out to prepackaged convenience foods.) I sampled creole fish cakes, goat ribs and chicken with peanut sauce, all tender and flavorful and prepared before my eyes in the cramped quarters of Mrs. Kelly's truck.
If you're in Aruba on a Saturday, you must seek out Mrs. Kelly's truck. It is both a culinary and cultural experience and one of Aruba's gastronomic highlights.
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