Saturday’s 19th annual Taste of Blacktip food festival has been relocated to the public pier at Diddley’s Landing in response to the cuisine-divided melee that marred last year’s event.
“The fight between the island’s two foodie factions about destroyed Sandy Bottoms Resort,” event organizer Jay Valve said. “We can’t let that happen again.”
Chefs from all the island’s resorts will prepare their versions of traditional Caribbean favorites, capped off, as ever, by the Jiangsu-vs-Sichuan Throwdown.
“People here take their food seriously,” Valve said. “The Jiangsu-Sichuan feud has divided the island for centuries, going back to the island’s first settlers. It’s ruined friendships, destroyed marriages, torn apart families.
“Last year’s brawl started when some Cantonese partisan slipped a plate of dim sum onto the tasting table,” Valve said. “Each side blamed the other, and next thing we knew noodles and hot mustard were flying everywhere.”
“It’s a shame the two sides can’t get along,” Blacktip Haven resort owner Elena Havens said. “There’s a vibrancy to the island’s culinary scene, with local chefs transforming locally-sourced ingredients into world-class dishes.”
“Staging the cook off on the pier will make crowd control easier,” Island Police Constable Rafe Marquette said. “There’s water on three sides, and we’ll cordon off the fourth.
“If any rioting does occur, clean up will be a snap. We have bulldozers and fire hoses standing by.”
Blacktip Island’s chefs are eager for the competition to begin.
“We’ll hit them with lionfish-head meatballs with land crab roe,” said Gordon Kerr, Jiangsu practitioner and executive chef at the Michelin-starred Tail Spinner Lounge. “Then follow up with sweet and salty wahoo and a Nanjing iguana tripe crusted with heavy bread.
“The Sichuan lot need to get a clue,” Kerr said. “Subtle flavors are not signs of weakness.”
The Sichuan camp remained undaunted.
“At least we have flavors, subtle or otherwise,” said Blacktip Haven chef Jessie Catahoula. “And ‘mushy’ is not a texture. Not a good one, anyway.
“Our spicy-fried turtle will bring them to their knees,” Catahoula said. “We’ll finish them off with Kung Pao conch.”
The event will also feature food pairings with locally-crafted beer, rum, mead and boxed wine.
“We been blending sea grape wine with coconut hooch,” island vintner/construction worker Dermott Bottoms said. “Come up with a nice huangjiu port. Glass or two of that, you don’t care who wins.”