Arts & Culture

Snapshots from “Saints of Old Florida”

It doesn’t take much to have a great time along Florida’s Forgotten Coast

photo: Margaret Houston

It doesn’t take much to have a great time along Florida’s Forgotten Coast. Usually some fresh shrimp or whatever the catch of the day might be will do the trick. “Many of the gatherings I remember from childhood and still enjoy today are spontaneous and always involve fresh seafood,” says Emily Raffield, a fifth-generation Floridian and a co-author of the new book Saints of Old Florida. “When a fresh fish or a bag of scallops is in the back of the truck and needs to be tended to, you can go from having no plans to, ‘Let’s cook this fish.’”


That’s the kind of casual, coastal spirit Raffield and two friends set out to capture in the book, a coffee-table tome full of recipes, photographs, and stories. The three authors—Raffield, 28, Melissa Farrell, 48, and Christina McDermott, 66—come from different generations, but a love of “saintly” Florida Panhandle towns and islands such as Saint George, Saint Joseph, Saint Marks, Saint Teresa, and Saint Vincent unites them. The book includes odes to Apalachicola oysters, portraits of fishermen, and recipes for everything from kumquat-scented gin and tonics to smoked mullet tamales. Of course, the three don’t always agree, as with their homemade takes on an essential seafood staple—cocktail sauce. But while Farrell might like a little more citrus, and McDermott loves heat, there’s no disagreement about what makes the Panhandle a special place. “There is a great community here in these small, rural towns,” Raffield says. “We get together. Some would say that’s because there’s nothing else to do—but that’s the beauty of it.”

Three Simple, Stir-Together Cocktail Sauces

Classic Cocktail Sauce
By Melissa Farrell
“I’m a purist when it comes to cooking. For me, the simpler the better,” Farrell says. “The cocktail sauce I make consists of ketchup, prepared horseradish, and fresh squeezed lemon juice. Extra lemon juice; this is the secret to really good cocktail sauce. If I have Ed’s Red hot sauce on hand, I add a dash or two.”

1 cup ketchup
Juice of 2 lemons, freshly squeezed
2 tbsp. prepared horseradish
3 dashes Ed’s Red Hot Sauce

Smoked Jalapeño Cocktail Sauce
By Christina McDermott
“Cocktail sauce is a delicate balance that should never mask the flavors of the seafood it accompanies,” McDermott says. “I like it simple with a kick of heat. Stir it up and taste until you get the right balance—spicy, spicy, spicy for me!”

1 cup ketchup
2 tbsp. prepared horseradish
Juice of ½ lime, freshly squeezed
1-2 smoked jalapeño (chipotle) peppers, finely diced

Wasabi House Cocktail Sauce
By Emily Raffield

“My recipe is a little city, I guess,” Raffield says. “Extra hot. Kind of salty. Of course, you never want the sauce to overpower the seafood, but this is a good one with a little edge.”

1 cup ketchup
1 tbsp. prepared horseradish
1 tbsp. soy sauce
1 tbsp. rice wine vinegar
1 tbsp. wasabi paste