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CARIBBEA LIF Local Beef, Pork, & Lamb


Coming to Montserrat from Mexico rather than from a more sedate and predictable country, we were well prepared to ferret out island resources for the things that we needed. One of these was meat – fresh local beef, chicken, lamb and pork. Our first year here we met a fellow named Oriel who had opened a small pretty primitive shop on a road just below the local supermarket. We'd get our groceries and then stop by Oriel's if he was open for business to see what he had. Some days we were well rewarded with his fresh vegetables and frozen local beef or pork. It wasn't predictable, but then it was’t much of an investment of time or effort to check him out. Many days he was closed, but then nothing ventured nothing gained!

Oriel started out in this small ramshackle building with two big freezers filled with local beef and pork and a small counter with a scale and a shelf with vegetables if he had any. Within a few months, he had put in a kitchen and was selling fresh sausage. In what seemed like days, he had completed the kitchen and installed a bar with tables for dining and drinking. Oriel had really arrived and we were thrilled to be getting fresh local food. We left the island that June to return to Mexico and on our return to Montserrat in December, Oriel was no longer proprietor of the property. Apparently the landlord had tossed him out in favor of a fellow who would pay more rent. All of Oriel’s hard work was now the proud possession of the local brothel operator. He, with his girls, is now ensconced in Oriel’s bar and his business is thriving to all accounts.

Oriel next rented land from the owners of the popular local hotel, the Vue Point. The land is on a gently sloping hill just above the hotel with a lovely view. No doubt someday it will be the site of another hotel or land development. Right now it is Oriel’s. He is a tireless worker and has created a half acre of happy birthing pig pens, and a couple of acres of vegetables.

On our return to the island this year, we immediately sought out Oriel to see what he had for sale. We drove down to his place just after the new cricket field on a road which taxed our trusty little car and never, after seven trips, found him there – “there” being a couple of ramshackle buildings fenced and locked. It was easy enough to climb over the fence, but even after much shouting and horn blowing, no Oriel. We resorted to our other contacts, the ladies that sell their vegetables outside of Ram’s to get Oriel’s phone number. After a few days we had it and when Stassi called a hesitant voice answered. He asked, “Do you speak Spanish” “Habla Espanol” and she broke into a babble of conversation long dammed in an English speaking country. Her name is Joanna which is unpronounceable in Spanish, but there you are. She always tried to be helpful telling us when we could find Oriel at the farm, but try as she might we never did.

One day Oriel himself called and made an appointment with us. We were to be at the farm at 7:00 A.M. the next day; he would be there by 5:00. We would get the pick of the beef as he had just done a cow the day before. We were there at seven, whistling in the wind, as Oriel had not arrived. We waited till the sun was getting hot and took off. Back home it was now 9:00 A.M. when we heard the toot of a car horn. There was Oriel. He arrived asking why we hadn't waited carrying a bag of 20.56 lbs of sirloin – it was all the cow had to give and we gratefully bought it and stuck it in the fridge.

Oriel was paid and off he went and it was now time for making steaks, hamburger and small pieces of beef for stir fry. Stassi pulled out the “Pork-ert” a device we bought in Mexico for grinding beef. We bought it in a small hardware store in Iguala on the day I was in town for a medical exam (that in itself is a long story). The grinder was made in Hungary or somewhere thereabouts for making sausage we assume. We got it here in our luggage and after many foolhardy tries have finally figured out how to make it work without breaking into hysterics.

I washed and cut up the two sirloins, Stassi ground up the beef, I made hamburgers and everything went into the fridge and freezer. We were vegetarians for two days afterwards, but now are enjoying our grill very much.  

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