FISHY BUSI­NESS

The Star (St. Lucia) - - LOCAL - By Tony Deyal

Good things come to those who bait. This is the essence of the old Chi­nese proverb “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a life­time.” The first time I heard it I was over­whelmed by the sheer sim­plic­ity of the apho­rism. Then I heard the twist by co­me­dian Ge­orge Car­lin: “Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day. Teach him how to fish and he will sit in a boat and drink beer all day.” There are other mod­ern vari­a­tions of the quip: “Teach a man to fish and he will be sur­rounded by peo­ple telling him how they can do it bet­ter.”

My wife also knows that when a man is taught to fish you can get rid of him for the en­tire week­end. But my mother found that out many years be­fore when she al­lowed me to spend a week­end by my school friend Trevor. Up to that point in my life, she gave a boy a fish and he would ask for more, es­pe­cially some­thing we called “fry-me-dry”—es­sen­tially a sar­dine or small her­ring which she bought by the bowl­ful. She took out the scales with a knife, slit the stom­achs, washed the fish in some lime and then mar­i­nated them in onion, gar­lic, salt and pep­per. She later dipped each lit­tle fish in flour, threw it in very hot oil and fried it to a crisp. Re­cently, when my daugh­ter Jas­mine asked me what fish dish I liked best I

went through a long list in my mind, every­thing from grouper to pom­pano, tuna to sal­mon, and came up with the hum­ble “fry-me-dry.”

I would stand by the stove, crowd­ing my mother, hear­ing the oil bub­bling in an old, bent and black­ened fry­ing pan, some­times get­ting hit by the splat­ter­ing oil be­cause I had crept up too close to the one-burner stove, then af­ter grab­bing one of the cooked fish in my hands, jug­gling it to keep from get­ting my palms burned and stuff­ing it in my mouth, I crunched it and crunched it again; a mouth­ful of heaven.

Trevor’s father taught me how to fish. But first we had to dig for worms. I came up with a multi-col­ored and many­legged crea­ture and Trevor jumped back in alarm. “Dat is not ah earth­worm,” he shouted. “True?” I asked. “What planet it from?”

Even­tu­ally, we got a milk tin full of wrig­gling worms and headed for a pond at the back of Trevor’s house. There was a bam­boo clump at the side of the pond and Mr. Roop, Trevor’s father, cut two thin and sup­ple rods for us. Trevor knew what to do but I had to learn how to take a piece of string, put a cork from a bot­tle on the string and then tie the end to a small safety pin, break off a piece from one of the worms but leav­ing enough wrig­gle room, thread it onto the sharp end of the pin and then im­merse the pin and worm in the wa­ter and watch the cork bob un­til it got pulled down. When that hap­pened, I had to whip the bam­boo rod up­wards to “hook” the fish and then take it off the hook. Sim­ple? Ba­si­cally, a jerk at one end of the line wait­ing for a jerk at the other end.

The first bite I got, I pulled so hard that the fish, a small Coscarob or what we called a “coskie” of the Cich­li­dae fam­ily, flew off the hook and ended up so high in the bam­boo patch that we could not reach it, es­pe­cially since the hook, freed of the fish, had con­tin­ued its jour­ney and ended up stuck in my back. De­spite this ini­tial set­back, I was hooked for life. The next day, by then as boast­ful as all the other fish­er­men, I headed out on my first ever camp­ing trip with Trevor, his father and two other friends.

We went to camp at a dam in the for­est and hav­ing caught a few fish, left one of the men, Gin­ger, to cook while we went hunt­ing. We re­turned empty-handed and hun­gry. On the lit­tle fire we had set up, our chef had boiled rice and cur­ried the fish. I put some of the rice in my “enamel” plate and poured the fish and curry-sauce over it. I bit into my fish first and it skid­ded right out of my mouth.

The oth­ers gagged al­most si­mul­ta­ne­ously. It turned out that Gin­ger had not taken off the scales or gut­ted and washed the fish. All he did was put some oil in the pot, pour in curry pow­der and “cooked” the fish. Per­haps the Chi­nese should have known that teach­ing a man how to fish was not enough. You also have to teach him how to cook. Paras and Sam, two of my fish­er­men friends, did not need the Chi­nese. Dur­ing a fish­ing trip, they in­tro­duced me to a del­i­cacy which, thirty-years later, I still re­mem­ber. We left Carli Bay, a fish­ing vil­lage in Cen­tral Trinidad, and headed up the Gulf of Paria towards a group of is­lands off the North­West Penin­sula, fish­ing all the way. We were well armed; beer for me, two bot­tles of over-proof Pun­cheon rum for the oth­ers, and sea­soned catfish for all.

We landed on one of the is­lands, Cha­cachacare, in the late evening and Sam quickly gath­ered some sticks and started a fire, cur­ry­ing the catfish. I made sure, this time that the only scales in­volved were the ones that the fish was weighed on. Later, on the is­land, in the moon­light, be­witched by the sounds of the night and the rum­ble of the oc­ca­sional smug­gler head­ing to or from Venezuela, I had the sec­ondbest fish dish of my life. The ex­pe­ri­ence led me to once more ques­tion the Chi­nese wis­dom. I learned to my joy and later sor­row, that if you teach a man to fish he has to buy a boat and trailer, rods, reels, gas, a GPS and beer.

*Tony Deyal was last seen try­ing to com­mu­ni­cate with the fishes. He dropped them a line but they re­fused to re­spond.

The award-win­ning Grow Well Golf Youth Team re­turned from Trinidad on Mon­day. Key­manie Thomas, Sa­muel Richelieu and Lisa Daniel were the win­ners of this year’s Ro­tary Golf Tour­na­ment in Jan­uary. It was the first time ever a team of ju­niors won the golf tour­na­ment, which is the big­gest in Saint Lu­cia.

Their prize was a week­end trip to Trinidad where they played on Sun­day in the Ro­tary Club of Port of Spain West’s an­nual tour­na­ment at St. An­drew’s Golf Club, Moka. The two-man team of Key­manie and Sa­muel were as­tound­ing as they placed sixth in a field of about 100 adult golfers, win­ning them­selves more prizes in Trinidad.

Tracey Arnold, a Grow Well Board Mem­ber—who ac­com­pa­nied the young­sters

in Trinidad as chaperone— said she was amazed to wit­ness the love and re­spect ac­corded to Saint Lu­cian ju­niors in Trinidad. Play­ers were par­tic­u­larly im­pressed with 15-year-old Key­manie Thomas who is Grow Well’s 2018 Cham­pion and a stu­dent of Corinth Sec­ondary School. Lisa, who played in a team with a Trinida­dian Ju­nior Girls Cham­pion, is also a stu­dent of Corinth Sec­ondary School.

This Sun­day, Key­manie, Sa­muel and Lisa will re­turn to Trinidad as part of Grow Well’s Team of 6 to par­tic­i­pate in the 4-day Caribbean Ju­nior Golf Open, also at St. An­drews in Trinidad. Grow Well’s for­mer golf cham­pion Rayshorn Joseph, Adrian Richelieu and Celina Lu­bin, will join them. Six­teen-year-old Adrian and 14-year-old Celina are stu­dents of Gros Islet Sec­ondary School.

Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a life­time, but what if he doesn’t know how to cook?

From left to right: Key­manie Thomas, Lisa Daniel and Sa­muel Richelieu at St An­drews Golf Club in Trinidad.

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