Yarrgh! You'd think throwing a pirate party would be easy, a no-brainer. A few eye patches here, a lot of rum there, and spicy Caribbean fare to soak up that booze. Party in a can, right?
Not if you're Laura Fries, newly relocated to an apartment only a block or so off Bayshore, and a really big procrastinator.
Friday night, everyone and their frat brother was stocking up on Captain Morgan's at the Kash n' Karry liquor store. This was my first Gasparilla, mind you - I was not prepared for the shortage of ice and the spring-break vibe.
I got the groceries home in the rain, with every intention of marinating the jerk chicken, starting the rice salad and preparing the Pirate Punch. But see, I hadn't done the dishes since the last time I cooked, what, three weeks ago? The kitchen looked like a party gone sour, with a thin film of mold growing over the salsa that had been sitting out since I last ventured into the room.
So Friday night, 9 p.m., laden with groceries: Was the prep work and cleaning really going to happen? Not bloody likely.
9 a.m., the day of Gasparilla, I woke up with a bang - the sounds of my drunk neighbors clamoring around outside. 9 a.m.? WTF?
Without so much as a pretense at a shower, I got to work.
2 jugs orange juice
2 cans Dole pineapple juice
1 can Goya mango juice, bought on a whim
About half a bottle of Captain Morgan's silver rum - the big old jug
About a cup of Triple Sec
2 crappy little sticks of cinnamon
4 pinches ground cloves (Steeping whole cloves in a cheesecloth bag would be ideal, but … yeah, right.)
Pour all into giant stockpot because you don't own a punch bowl. Sample immediately. Test every half hour to make sure it's really still OK. Testing and testing…
Whir the following ingredients together to form a marinade:
3 habanero peppers
Handful of cilantro
3 tsp. oriental hot mustard
5 tsp. allspice
3 bay leaves, center stem removed, leaves crumbled
1 small Badia stick of cinnamon, grated
Juice of 2 limes
4 cloves garlic
Pinch of cumin
1 tsp. Molasses
1 bundle of green onions, diced
This is enough marinade for about one package of chicken. But you're out of time, so you throw four packages of chicken in. It'll be tasty, just not as spicy. Marinate the chicken as long as you can. Grill it, or have your buddy Joe do that.
KINDA CARIBBEAN RICE
1. Sauté in olive oil: four cloves diced garlic, diced onion, yellow rice food colorant, and cumin.
2. Add in leftover baby spinach from your fridge just to use it up, about half a bag.
3. You'll have already soaked 1 3/4 cups of rice several times to remove the starch. Now, add it to the pot, stirring frequently to distribute the flavoring.
4. Pour in 1 3/4 cups of water, set the burner to low and cover the pot.
5. Since you're a little tipsy and can't help but meddle, uncover the pot several times during cooking to stir it, creating slightly mushy rice.
6. Use the word "mushy" too often while describing your food.
7. Look out the window. Literally, there are four 18-year-old drunk girls doing a really stupid dance. What?
8. Taste your rice. Decide it needs more flavor and liquid. Look around your house for leftover stock, or perhaps a flavorful wine or stout beer.
9. End up pouring a can of Pabst into your rice, stirring until it absorbs the liquid.
10. Curse yourself for being such a cheapskate.
11. Pronounce rice done, and turn off the burner.
12. Get a big bowl, and start to throw food items in it, hoping that your innate sense of food will make it taste good. In no particular order: red and orange bell peppers, chopped by a helpful guest; 2 cans of black beans, opened with a can opener borrowed from the frat boys, er, neighbors; 1 bundle green onions, diced; 1 Tsp. olive oil; some cumin; some Fiesta brand chorizo seasoning; all the leftover cilantro; some diced mango - which weren't ripe enough to make a mango salsa with, so you're just going to add them to the rice and beans and hope that's OK; and lime juice.
13. Oh, and the rice.
14. Taste and taste, adding more salt, more lime juice, more cumin until it seems palatable.
15. Call your guests back from the parade and watch them chow down.
Ah, drunken cooking. There is no sport I'm better at - unless you want to count hung-over column writing.