Marie's Fish Shack
Reduit Beach - Rodney Bay
For some the abiding memory of St Lucia will be the Pitons, the warm waters, the sailing, the diving or maybe just the lazy Caribbean vibe and great food. Of course, all these things are there in spades but none will offer that one defining memory of our trip back to the Caribbean islands.
Marie's fish shack - where everyone knows your name
No, for me the whole trip is encapsulated in Marie's Fish Bar. A Caribbean equivalent to Cheers - the bar where everyone knows your name. Its only ten minutes walk from the heaving masses of walruses, oiled and laid wallowing on the narrow beach. But few venture to the southern end frequented by the locals, which makes this one of St Lucia's best kept secrets.
Head this way!
We came with a jump start as we have a friend in common with Marie, the opinionated owner who serves those customers she happens to like (and you really want to be liked - believe me!).
She makes the most divine Caribbean fish food, cooked over open wood fires by herself or one of her sons. There is a menu of sorts but its not really a choice, more what you may like to leave out. The wise guest will simply accept whatever she offers as its all delicious and whatever you do, don't get picky - or you will be shouted at.
The view from the bar comes free
To dine at Marie's is a community activity and the guests are all part of the show. Two by two we all show up, some are regulars but most happen on the shack by chance, and we take our places on the benches. Marie gets about her business while someone, a guest as often as not, sorts out the bar. Piton, the local beer is the staple drink but for those in need of something a little stronger there are the Rum options - A blow your head off Rum Punch which leaves you begging for more ice to dilute it down, or the ultra smooth spiced rum which is reputedly a cure all for everything from diabetes to infertility!
Hmm - I wish that was mine they all think
The bar is run on the loosest of tabs where much relies on honesty and customer come to an agreement on what has been consumed at the end of the session. If you have imbibed the rum this is not as easy as it sounds, but all is sorted out in the end - US or EC Dollars are both fine.
The food may take a while, but that's OK. Like canal time, Caribbean time is stretchy and the longer your food takes to arrive the more time you have to take soak up the vibes.
So, if you ever visit Redruit Beach take a wander down to the extreme southern end for about 1.00pm and ask for food. She will prepare food for the first 12 or 15 to ask, and a meal for two plus three beers each will set you back about EC$100 (£25).
The food alone justifies a visit but its the welcome which is a bit special. All comers are welcomed in and amazingly the disparate group of customers who arrive unwittingly become a group, sharing, chatting, joking and generally having a good time.
Before you know it everyone knows your name - Cheers!