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Book Review: Sailing and Cooking Throughout the Caribbean

A debut book entitled ‘Sailing and Cooking throughout the Caribbean’ by Saskia Romeijn Vermeer was published recently in July. The official launch was in St Maarten, where Saskia, husband Marten, and children Skye and Sil are well-known faces within the local sailing community.  Saskia and Marten ran the popular Random Wind day charter boat for over 10 years, where Saskia was able to hone her cookery skills for groups of up to 18 guests at a time.

“I started to write recipes down at the requests of guests,” says Saskia, who insists that she is not a chef, “and to explain about local food, such as the difference between green and brown coconut or the types of banana.” Another skill was painting, and soon the idea came to combine her most popular on board dishes with some delightful watercolors to create a cookery book. Hard cover, 76 pages long and pocket-size, the cookbook is full of manageable, unpretentious dishes with a distinctly Caribbean theme.

From her time on the yacht, Saskia recognized that the galley is a small, hot area, so designed ‘get out of the galley fast’ dishes. Ingredients for recipes such as banana chips, chicken and mango wrap and the Dutch Gouda ‘Cheeseburger in Paradise’ can be found on any island and are within the realm of any cook. Elsewhere in the book, some recipes are accompanied by touching anecdotes that most cruisers will be able to relate to: the recipe for Coconut Cookies comes with a nice tale about St Vincentian boat boys.

Saskia and Marten came to the Caribbean in 1991 and spent the first four years doing day charters and charter deliveries, before returning to Europe for Marten to obtain his Captain’s License. During this period, Saskia worked as a cook for the Chinese State Circus, in Holland, Germany and France. In 1995, the couple returned to St Maarten, where Hurricane Luis had just wreaked devastation. Nevertheless, they were able to buy one of the few yachts that had survived and began chartering.

Recently, however, the couple sold Random Wind and the two are now heading with their young children to Bonaire, where Marten will be working on a new marine project. Saskia, meanwhile, has not ruled out another cookbook, so keep your eyes peeled!

‘Sailing and Cooking throughout the Caribbean’ is available at Shipwreck Shops and Van Dorp in St Maarten, and at branches of Budget Marine throughout the Caribbean.

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