Each time we go home to Miami to visit, it becomes increasingly harder to come back to Maryland. All three sets of our kids grandparents live there and it’s where Hubby grew up. Since his paternal grandparents had…wait for it…TWELVE children, my Hubby and his sisters have no less than 34 first cousins.
With a family of that size, there’s never a shortage of crazy stories, funny anecdotes and entertaining antics; it also means, there’s a palpable feeling of love, tight-knittedness and a strong sense of family.
I’ve been going to gatherings at his grandparent’s house ever since we first started dating 14 years ago and it was such a treat for me. I literally felt like I was living in the movie “Soul Food.” I did grow up with a mini-version of the Sunday gatherings at my own granny’s house in Montreal with my cousins and I choreographing dance routines and building army bases out of the pillows on my grandparent’s “Chesterfield” but nothing of the magnitude that my husband’s family is used to by sheer virtue of their family’s size.
Naturally, they have the usual Southern Soul Food items – greens, mac and cheese, baked and fried chicken and every single kind of cake or pie you can imagine – but, because of their Bahamian heritage AND proximity to the ocean, there’s a definite Caribbean twist to their menu.
Every Friday evening, for example, one of his aunts sells Conch Fritters and Fried Fish directly from their grandparent’s house where the family congregates Friday through Sunday. Neighbors hip to the game come from far and wide to get their fill. What’s makes it even more special is that the Conch Fritter recipe is a secret one passed down from his grandmother who passed away several years ago. Only a select few in the family know the recipe and they are NOT going to share it (trust me, I tried). Also, they are a family of fisherman and so almost all of the fish that they eat is fish that they have caught themselves off of the Florida Keys or in the Bahamas…
We spent a week in Miami for Spring Break this month and his family had a Seafood Fest on Good Friday. There was so much food – everything from fried Grouper to Garlic Crabs to Shrimp Kebabs and Lobster Tails on the grill all accompanied by ridiculously good sides, including homemade Johnny Cake.
It’s impossible to watch what you eat down there.
Now that we’re back in the DC Metro area, everyone’s going through a little bit of a withdrawal – Chatterbox misses her cousins terribly; Giggles misses the endless supply of kisses and spoiling from her Grandmas; L’il Buddy misses playing sports with his boy cousins; Hubby misses the regular saltwater fishing outings with his uncles; and me?
I miss the Sunday dinners.