We arrived by water taxi and, with the sun still shining, we were by far the first guests to arrive. We didn’t mind, as this allowed us to catch the vivid sunset and see the excitement as the streets were lined with bustling people getting ready for the weekly fish fry.
Women stood over hot, cast iron pots filled with bubbling oil as they were frying up dozens of fish cakes and fry bread, putting the last minute touches of spice in the aluminum packets filled with red snapper. While the men were setting up the bottles of rum punch and spiced rum and setting bottles of Piton over ice. Their motions were effortless and well rehearsed. Everyone knew their role and steadily did their jobs as the crowd slowly began to gather.
The Anse La Raye Fish Fry is a wonderful way to get a real sense of the food, and the culture surrounding the food, in St. Lucia. Come hungry and try many things. The prices are extremely reasonable and the locals are very eager to share their creations.
There is a great sense of pride in their offerings and, with one taste, it’s not hard to understand why. The seasonings are simple and reflect the history of the island, with both French and British influence, as well as whispers of Chinese and Indian spices.
One vendor walked us through the many dishes she had prepared, lifting the stainless lids off simmering pots of conch, lobster, and Crabbacks. With each reveal, a powerful, spicy scent wafted from under the lid.
Among other things, we had the red snapper, cooked perfectly as it was cradled in an aluminum-foil pack then placed on the hot grill. The fish steamed inside the pack, retaining moisture and imparting the flavors of the marinade throughout the process. The fish arrived whole and perfectly seasoned with lemon, ginger, and coriander. Each dish came with crisp, fried plantains, creamy macaroni and cheese with a thick layer of bubbly cheese crusted on top, a fresh green salad, banana salad, and a piece of fried bread lightly sweet and a perfect tool for soaking up any remaining drags of the flavorful sauce that escaped the fish.