Last entry, we took a trip to India as I reminisced about my most recent trip to the beautiful country. Today, we’ll make our way back to the United States, down to Key West, the southernmost point of the country.

Found in Key West is a rich culture which embraces history and heritage, but even more so food. Chefs in Key West seem like they are almost born with the ability to whip up amazing dishes, specializing in seafood-based cuisine. My two most memorable experiences there involved fish, freshly caught from the seas found minutes from the restaurants themselves.

The night we arrived, I had the pleasure of eating an authentic meal at a local Cuban restaurant called El Siboney. The menu looked exciting and the eatery itself was very friendly and welcoming. Though they offered all types of fare, I chose to indulge in the grilled grouper filet, which was cooked to absolute perfection. They served the entire fish served whole, with white rice, black beans, and sweet plantains. The flavor contrast between the entire dish was fantastic, and the presentation was just as good, if not better. The fish itself tasted fresh and authentic, not like anything I had ever had before. It was reassuring to know where the fish was coming from as I looked outside the window at the shore. Crispy, savory and salty fish contrasted with sweet plantains and rice created a combo which I could have eaten for the entire night. This was truly an experience I am fortunate to have had.

If the idea of fresh fish doesn’t seem as appealing to you as it does, then my next experience may be even more exciting. The following day, our family went on a boating/fishing trip for three hours, in which we caught plenty of fresh fish. The cool part of the day, however, was when we took those freshly caught fish to another local restaurant by the resort we were staying. The restaurant asked us how we wanted the fish prepped, and within half an hour, we were eating our very own catch, cooked to perfection, for dinner. Just the night before, I had eaten what I thought was the freshest fish possible. However, this experience really helped me understand just how powerful eating your own catch can really be. The fish had the freshest taste, and came with authentic dipping sauces sourced from local fruits.

Overall, my Key West food experiences were fresh and tasty, but I felt a heightened sense of connection with the food since I knew where it was coming from. The beautiful scenery and nice preservation of sea life and ocean areas was also very reassuring. Whether it was food from another culture or one from our own, the food itself was on a level which I had never tasted before. In all my future food experiences, I hope to obtain opportunities to taste the same level of freshness and authenticity in my food, no matter where in the world I am.