One of the appeals of the little hotel I am staying at is the fact that it was close to a Popeye’s Restaurant. Americans may think that our beloved Louisiana fried chicken franchise is strictly an American one, but in fact it is quite popular in the Caribbean world, as I have previously discovered. There are multiple franchises in Paramaribo, and I have not only enjoyed the tasty fried chicken and cajun fries in Suriname, but previously I had dinner there at the airport in Port of Spain on my way back from St. Lucia last year from the Feast of Tabernacles . Best of all, the prices are quite reasonable, and it is good to know that the franchise sells food at a reasonable cost based on the cost of living of the location and not based on the price points in the United States. I can say from having sat here for a couple of hours as I ate and read and wrote that the place has a diverse clientele, including a lot of Indo-Surinamese, the occasional security guard or police officer, plenty of families (including one East Asian family whose daughter was staring at me as I typed this, and one whose little boy used up all his English amusedly watching me on my computer), and whose staff had enough English knowledge at least to be able to interact with me somewhat haltingly.
Yet it must be conceded that people do not live on fried chicken alone, no matter how tasty it is and how flaky its breaded crust. As I was sitting at my hotel before lunch I had the chance to listen to a man on his cell phone talk to a partner in a rather blunt and not particularly charming but highly manipulative way trying to get her to come over and cook for him and sleep with him. Admittedly, I tend to be rather shy and timid about my own conduct regarding romantic matters, but this fellow gabbed about in English without any apparent concern that someone was listening to him. He attempted to cajole the woman, who appeared to think that all men were liars, by calling on her to show some love to him. He offered a massage as inducement for her to come, and asked her for some sort of proof of her love for him, while she attempted to fob him off by telling him she might come later, as she was tired. Of course, it was early in the morning, so one wonders why she was so tired. What was it that she had done all night aside from sleeping as normal people do. I did not inquire upon this point, nor did the fellow, but i found it somewhat odd to say the least.
Observing the life of the capital city from the windows of a fast food restaurant, one can gain a great deal of insight. One can see the way that somewhat well-off people of all backgrounds behave in chatting with each other, in eating together and showing affectionate love to partners and family members, and conversing with acquaintances and strangers. One can see the schoolkids walk by on their lunch breaks, see the privileged classes driving by in nice cars, see smoking and somewhat aggressive driving, occasionally view stray animals or parking lots on corner properties that are still dirt without grass or pavement of any kind. One can see conversation in multiple languages–I myself have been able to recognize English, Spanish, and Dutch at least, and there was probably conversation in other languages that I wasn’t paying attention to. Without a doubt, it is easy to understand what a diverse population that Paramaribo has, and it is also unsurprising that a Louisiana-inspired restaurant would be such a fitting place to recognize this diversity.
After all, the reasons for the diversity of Louisiana in particular and that of Suriname are rather similar. Louisiana was originally a border colony of the French and was fought over by Americans and British and within civil conflicts as well. The same can be said of Suriname, claimed by the Spaniards and settled originally by the English and fought over by the Dutch, who eventually proved victorious, as well as serving as a border colony with the other Guianas. In both Louisiana and Suriname there was a long history of plantation slavery, the settlement of their main cities (New Orleans and Paramaribo) on the banks of major rivers a bit inland from the coast, the presence of a large free black population as well as that of refugee populations of various kinds, like Acadians in Louisaiana or Jews in Suriname. Both areas have seen an influx of other outsiders quick to see the economic potential of offshore oil and the use of the area for profitable transshipment of goods. If Suriname is far more obscure than Louisiana is, it is hardly less complicated in its own demography and history, and hardly less colorful in its own obscure way. One may hobble towards Louisiana cooking and manage to see a great deal else besides that, and that is something I must admit I can appreciate a great deal, even on a day like this where I am not doing a great deal of anything at all.
 See, for example: