A glimpse of Bajan dishes

Location

Bridgetown, Saint Michael

Barbados

13° 6′ 47.5992″ N59° 35′ 55.7124″ W

Date:
Mon, 03/04/2013 – 2:52am
Refreshment
This field note will introduce you all to a brief description of the kinds of foods that make up the diets of Barbadians. Many of the tropical foods and specific seafood dishes offer an interesting comparison to foods within various parts of the United Sates. Although some of the foods are connected to the local region itself, many of the foods are borrowed from the international community. This demonstrates that although many cultures from around the world share various values and practices that are different, similarities exist. This obviously reveals that no part of the world is completely disconnected from the rest. We all live in a connected world that makes up one large culture of humanity that shares many of the common likings, needs, wants and desires, and that is what makes the human race so dynamic. The following will provide a description of all the foods I have tasted, in addition to potential comparisons of the specific food items. Most importantly, I will include an actual recipe for all of you to try while at home. I will also discuss the origins of the foods and specific habits that are particularly unique to Bajans. I find that some practices may make others think twice about the way they enjoy their own food. Needleless to say, I believe that many of the food practices will excite and encourage you all to step outside of your comfort zone. This is in turn will allow you all to appreciate food diversity. I do not think this is a very challenging endeavor since so many people are accustomed to food. Food is a pretty fun topic worth exploring, sharing and complementing. I hope that you all stay engaged and be open minded to all what I have provided. Please read the following.
Introduction:: 

The people of Barbados eat a variety of foods to satisfy many specific cravings and desires.  Barbadian food can be described as a mixture of the old and the new. This expression means that Barbadians bring together food items that are specific to Barbados or the Caribbean and even places outside of the Caribbean region.  The food has its roots in Africa and England, but it still has evolved into local foods from local products as well.

As you may have guessed, food and diet of Barbados largely consists of fish and other kinds of seafoods. Since the island is surrounded by water, fish is one of the main sources of protein for the Barbadian people.  Fishes of the region consists of red snapper, shark, king fish, tuna, dolphin, and of course flying fish.

The following description will include a variety of foods I have tried, my reaction to the food, the preparation. Furthermore, I will address how the food is connected to the environment.

What food did I try?: 

         Before or even after tasting a wide array of foods, it is only natural to crave something to drink. I would recommend Bajan cherry drink because it is flavorful, although a bit too sweet. And of course, enjoying coconuts from one of the local venders offers a very fresh and refreshing taste. The vendors are usually positioned on the street and are frequently getting the attentions of various people who are passing by. It is a fairly easy task to approach them in order to gather a few amounts of coconuts when having a large amount of friends. The price of one usually runs to around $1 U.S. dollars, which is very affordable. The most amazing thing is being able to eat the much hard inside or the ‘jelly’ of the coconut. I always look forward to trying that.

A food that really caught my eye is what is referred to as fish cake. The texture is brown, round and appears to be baked. I would say that this sort of taste like a certain thing that is made up of a lot of flour. I cannot quite figure it out though. But, in my opinion, fish cake comes the closest to tasting like hash browns but a lot smoother and rounder. This particular dish seems pretty unique to the island of Barbados.

Overall, Bajan food also offers a lot of varieties. Choices for meat include rabbit, duck, ham, pork, chicken, lamb, beef, turkey and veal. I have noticed that food is also commonly served with coleslaw and vegetables, rice, potatoes, which suggest that bajans invest in a pretty healthy diet.

Flying fish is traditionally served with cou-cou, which in combination becomes the National Dish. I have yet to try both together, but I did managed to eat flying fish along with rice and peas, plantain and coleslaw when I visited a local restaurant. Flying fish is commonly deep-fried, but it can also be steamed.  I really admire the way that the fish is prepared and served. It does not have any bones or excess that other fishes I have tasted.  This fish also have lesser coarse surfaces with makes the food quite easy to eat without annoyance or difficulties. I truly prefer fish to be deep fried in this manner for it gives off a more tanned color and a soft, crispy taste to my liking.

How did I feel when I tried it?: 

      To begin, Barbadians for sure has a strong combination of international cuisines and a mixture of local island foods from experience. I find it difficult to not try foods that are strongly influenced by the international community while being here. For example, wedges, also known as potato fries are commonly served with fried chicken and fish.  This is often available on campus and off campus a like whether in a formal restaurant or not. The taste of the foods of Barbados is pretty mild and fresh. It does not consist of a lot of spices and seasoning like foods in Jamaica and potentially surrounding islands. So if this description fits your liking, then it is definitely worth the try.

I especially found it interesting that many Barbadians like to have their foods drenched in a lot of ketchup and other condiments. Although Americans would think that cheese and ketchup is an odd combination, it certainty is highly practiced by many Barbadians.  Although this may vary, some Barbadians like to add a dash of their own hot sauce to kind of add a bit of flavor to their food. I hope that my food exploration will inspire you all to travel around and try different foods too!

How is the food prepared?:

      To prepare ‘flying fish’, it only takes the ability to follow some careful, but relatively easy directions:

•   INGREDIENTS

•   1 lb flying fish

•   1½ tsp salt

•   Juice of large lime

•   1 clove garlic (crushed)

•   1 tsp fresh minced chives

•   1 small onion (minced)

•   ½ tsp dried marjoram

•   Dash hot pepper sauce

•   1/3 cup all purpose flour

•   ½ cup cornflakes crumbs

•   1/8 tsp cayenne pepper powder

•   ¼ tsp black pepper

•   1 egg (lightly beaten)

•   Oil for pan frying

•   2 limes quartered for garnish

I have learned that there is some additional preparation that goes into this dish. To begin, fish fillets should be placed in a shallow plate or dish to be able to be seasoned with salt and lime juice for which should be placed aside for 15 minutes. After this process, the fish need to be drained and slightly dried. Hot pepper, marjoram, onion, chives, and garlic should be mixed together in a separate bowl. Meanwhile, cayenne pepper, ½ teaspoon of salt and black pepper should be mixed together. Then the fillets should be dipped in flour, egg followed by cornflakes crumbs. Oil should be heated to a fairly hot temperature to be able to cook the fillets for a few minutes on each side. After the following touches of lime wedges, this food item is then ready to be served.

Is this food connected to the local environment? How?: 

     Flying fish live in all oceans, but they are generally found in tropical and warm subtropical waters. A feature that stands out is the pectoral fin, which is pretty big. And, this allows the fish to get away from any predators and dangers by jumping out of the water as high as 50 meters.Flying fish is generally in great abundance all throughout the year and within the island of Barbados. In the Caribbean though, this specific type of fish is relatively unique to Barbados. Recent migration of this fish has emerged towards Trinidad and Tobago, which has cause serious controversy over maritime boundaries. Nevertheless, this food item remains a prominent feature of Barbadian cuisine.

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