Bajan cuisine is characterized by spice combinations of fresh lime juice, chili peppers, thyme, marjoram and parsley, unlike jerk seasoning like other islands’ Latin influences. Here are 5 foods that are unmistakably prevalent in any trip to Barbados!
1. Flying Fish
The National Dish of Barbados! Flying fish is prepared with fresh onion, garlic, thyme, tomatoes, and pepper. It doesn’t take long into your trip to Barbados to learn that flying fish is a National staple throughout, but particularly at Oistins – an open-air evening fish fry and festival. When we visited Oistins, we were originally off-put by the long lineups out front various food vendors, but we quickly found a hidden gem around the back of all the other vendors. We were instantly seated and offered a very impressive menu of traditional food options. Once the food arrived, we were very pleased with how delicious and generous the portions were.
Fun fact: While enjoying a ride out on a catamaran, I noticed some flying fish in their natural habitat. They sure do look like they can fly! I watched the fish jump up from the water really high and then soar in a long, tall arc. I have never seen anything like that, before!
2. Cou Cou
With a similar consistency and name to Middle Eastern cous cous, this cornmeal and okra dish accompanies the flying fish as a delicious, rich side dish.
3. Macaroni Pie
A rich, baked version of mac and cheese! Macaroni pie includes generous amounts of cheddar cheese as well as ingredients like ketchup and mustard for additional colour and flavour. As an interesting cross between casserole, mac and cheese, and spaghetti, macaroni pie tastes a little different everywhere you get it. Variations in cheesiness, mustard, tomato sauciness, the addition of baked vegetables and/or tuna can turn this side into a main entrée.
4. Fish Cakes
Fish cakes can be found on all menus in Barbados – from 5 star restaurants to street vendors. Fish cakes are a savoury mix of salted cod fish and local herbs and spices, and deep fried to golden perfection.
5. Rum Punch
Though technically not a food, there’s nothing quite like a Bajan Rum Punch to wash it all down! As the name suggests, Rum Punch is a rum based cocktail with a recipe that is easy to remember:
One of sour (lime juice),
two of sweet (simple syrup),
three of strong (rum)
and four of weak (water),
a dash of bitters (Angostura Bitters)
and a sprinkle of spice (nutmeg),
serves well chilled,
with plenty of ice.
One thing I found interesting when visiting Barbados was the lack of fresh fruit available. I had it in my head that this island would be bountiful in tropical fruit of all sorts, but in fact I found fresh fruit difficult to come across in both restaurants and street vendors! I wonder if the majority of imported fruit goes right to the resorts. I haven’t been able to come across any information to explain the lack of accessible fruits, so if you have some information regarding this, please let me know!