Sombrero Island: Catching and Cooking Butterfish (The Anguillian Favourite)

By anguillian July 19, 2013 08:57

Sombrero Island: Catching and Cooking Butterfish  (The Anguillian Favourite)


"Bennie" and Patrick Webster

“Bennie” and Patrick Webster

Sombrero Island is thirty nautical miles from Island Harbour and takes a boatload of fuel and time to get there and back. So, two-day fishing trips are most practical when sleeping overnight in the calm water of the Northside Island cove (also known as the “Shipping Cove near Gangway”). There is also the opportunity to catch, clean and cook Butterfish from hook to frying pan within an hour. The result is a rare and heavenly delight.

From time to time, Patrick Webster arranges a two-vessel fishing task force to optimize the excursion, with cooking, bathing and sleeping facilities. On board is an efficient cook top/broiler to prepare a classic Butterfish meal for four or five fishermen. The three-star menu includes perfectly delectable Butterfish, savory peas and rice, fresh, island-grown mixed salad and a sweet dessert.

On-deck dining is accompanied by curious seabird companions, avian calls and daring swoops by Masked and Brown Boobies, Sooty Terns, Brown Noodies and overnight roosting Man-O’Wars. The eerie, post-apocalyptic Sombrero backdrop is bathed in intensely bright, then fast-fading westerly setting sunlight. In turn, the faint sounds of the ocean lap the boat hull, and nothing is more beautiful, spectacular really, than dining against a wall of tall Sombrero cliffs with water reflections dancing off the rocks in bursts of light and colour in step with the changing hues of the sunset.

The desolate landscape is nonetheless plesantly deceptive, as the fishermen feast among the long-lost kindred spirits of Sombrero’s ancestral working men, who free-dived into the deeply dug rocks in the middle 19th century at the height of the guano “Gold Rush” period. Interestingly, Sombrero Island had the best guano in the world – “Phosphatic Guano from Sombrero Island, West Indies, The Richest Deposit of Phosphate of Lime Known to the World: Containing 80 Per Cent of Bone Phosphate of Lime” (Wood & Grant, 1858; 16 page pamphlet).

One simply cannot sail to the hallowed rocks of Sombrero without feeling the friendly presence of the spirits and ghosts of Sombrero miners from days gone by. They, too, certainly ate Butterfish with peas and rice in the exact same fashion as prepared today!
– Contributed

By anguillian July 19, 2013 08:57


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