When we first moved to Bequia in the Caribbean, we thought we’d try living like the locals or, at least, to sample as much local life, and food, as we could. Rotis seemed like something safe to begin with – thin flour-lentil wrappings surrounding a curry filling that includes lots of potato chunks with your choice of protein, and plenty of hot sauce served on the side.
Dennis offered to make a roti-run, coming back from the Green Boley with two of these delicacies, still-piping-hot, individually wrapped in waxed paper, and stuffed into small brown bags along with a paper towel-napkin.
We unwrapped them and both bit down at the same moment.
“Bones!” I said in disgust, examining what I held in my hand.
“I think I broke a tooth,” Dennis said. “There’s a whole leg bone in here.”
“Mine’s a wing, by the look of it. I like wings, but not when they’re supposed to be nice chunks of boneless meat.”
“That cheap Liston,” Dennis said. “He’s probably leaving the bones in for fill.”
We discovered later that wasn’t true; there are actually boneless chicken roti available on the Green Boley’s menu – but you have to ask for them specifically, and they’re more expensive. The reason why bones are in the cheaper rotis is because the local people like to chew on them.
While out on a day charter boat one afternoon, after the chicken pellau had been served to all the passengers, I watched as a member of the crew, ruminated slowly on the bones then spat out the remaining residue into her hand and threw it overboard.
We’ve since had people over for dinner and served them chicken breast.
“Where de bones,” they ask in consternation, searching through the solid meat.
So we’ve learned, when placing orders for roti, either to emphasize that we prefer the boneless variety of chicken or forever hold our peace, facing the possible consequences of biting down on something untoward. Although now I generally opt for either conch or vegetarian varieties because I have yet to find a shell or stone in either.