Caribbean Pumpkin Soup
Penny De Los Santos

Northern Magic was a sailboat built by a Canadian dentist who had put his heart into constructing his dreamboat—quite literally, for as soon as the ship was launched, he dropped dead of a heart attack. His widow asked my sea-faring boyfriend, Bones, to sail the boat from Trinidad up to Tortola in the British Virgin Islands, and put it up for sale. I went along for the ride. It was a maiden voyage to remember. Everything broke. We limped into St. Lucia, where we spent weeks waiting for parts. In the interim, Bones introduced me to the lively marketplace in the capital city of Castries. I’d never been anyplace so enthralling: The stalls spilled over with papayas, plantains, and breadfruit, and the chickens were sold still squawking. I fell in love with the food of the Caribbean; its vivid flavors don’t pull any punches. We bought green-skinned calabaza pumpkins and fiery Scotch bonnet peppers, and while Bones fixed the boat, I made pumpkin soup. The warm roti flatbreads we ate with the soup were cheap, the beer ice-cold. Such a heavenly spot to be stranded. Of course, not long after, I married Bones. Any guy who can fix both a boat and a perfect rum punch is a keeper. —Abigail Blake, Winston-Salem, North Carolina

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