About the food of Barbados

Photo courtesy of the CIA World Factbook

A couple of years ago my husband spent a week in Chicago for a work training program. Every day his teacher spent 4 hours off-topic, gushing about his trips to the beautiful island. You’d think this would make my husband an expert on Barbados, but unfortunately he didn’t take notes.

Also known as “Little England,” the island of Barbados is an ethnic melting pot. Although the majority of the Bajan people originally came from Africa, the people and the cuisine are also peppered with influence from South America, England, India, and China.

The result? A unique and diverse food culture.

Mainstays include fish, seafood, and more fish. The list includes some funny names like flying fish and wahoo (like a mackerel), and dried cod (salt fish), smoked herring, conch, crayfish, grouper, and snapper. Fish is served a multitude of ways – including fried (in a cornmeal crust), baked, stewed, in fish cakes, and grilled.

England is one of the dominant influences because Barbados was a British colony for over 300 years. As a result, popular sweets include steamed pudding, high tea and biscuits/cookies.

If you’re looking for meat, pork and ham are common choices, as is chicken. These meats (and fish, too) are often marinated in spicy Bajan Seasoning. The love for hot food (most notably thanks to the habanero) is rampant in Barbados, although certainly not present in every dish. Bajan Seasoning can be used on any kind of meat or fish for a flavor boost. The ingredients include:

Parsley, dill, thyme, marjoram, green onion, onion, garlic, habenero pepper, vinegar, lime juice, salt & pepper

To make a picnic more Bajani try homemade salt bread and ham cutters. Cutters is just another name for a sandwich. Salt bread is the iconic bread of Barbados. When made into a roll the inside is soft and the outside has a slight crust.

A holiday dish called jug-jug is another tradition in Barbados. Jug-jug is made of lentils, rolled oats, bacon, corned beef, and aromatics. The dish is often served with peas n’ rice (a Caribbean staple) and fried plantains.

Fruits and vegetables include sweet potato, okra, plantain, cabbage, eggplants, beans, and mangoes. One particularly interesting vegetable dish is called “conkies.” Conkies are typically made of cornmeal, sweet potato, pumpkin, raisins, coconut, brown sugar, and nutmeg. These ingredients are blended together into a paste and then wrapped in banana leaves and steamed. Savory conkies can be made, too. The tradition of wrapping starches in banana leaves made its way to Barbados from West Africa.

If you want something to drink and don’t feel like falernum (made from rum, lime juice, sugar, and amaretto), try kid-friendly lemonade, gingerale, or mauby. This local Bajani describes mauby, a healthy drink made from bark:

I am from Barbados West Indies. Mauby is a daily drink for us — all ages. It is made with cinnamon sticks, anise, (angostura bitters optional) and sugar to taste, water and lots of ice. It’s most refreshing.I am 70 years old and still drinking it. I have an excellent blood pressure and my blood sugar is under control. JH

Source: Wise Geek

Photo courtesy of the CIA World Factbook


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