A Taste of Barbados
British, Indian and African influences over the centuries have created a kaleidoscope of flavours in Bajan cuisine. So it seems a shame to spend the duration of your holiday eating from the same hotel restaurant, when there’s a whole island brimming with lip-smacking morsels and thirst-quenching cocktails for you to try.
If you’ve decided to ditch your all-inclusive holiday and let your taste buds wander, events such as the Friday Night Fish Fry in Oistins are a great insight into local life — Bajans and tourists dance to reggae into the early hours, fuelled by spicy fish dishes, rice and peas, and the legendary rum punch.
For an equally memorable evening, book yourself a table at The Cliff. Prices are incredibly steep, but for your money, you’ll get a theatrical setting with torch-lit decks, as well as mouth-watering food, flamboyant presentation and excellent service. For a more casual and affordable experience, you can also try sister restaurant The Cliff Beach Club, or Lone Star — both have beautiful terraces overlooking crystalline water. And certainly don’t forget the numerous street-food stalls that serve authentic and delicious food for a fraction of the price.
But wherever you end up, these are our must-try dishes during your culinary capers around this Caribbean island:
An absolute staple when in Barbados. We love fried flying fish, served in huge saltbread sandwiches or with cou cou (a mix of cornmeal and okra), and whole-baked “dolphin” — don’t be alarmed, that’s just the local name for mahi-mahi. Another essential dish is Bajan fishcakes, made from a savoury mix of salted cod and local herbs and spices, which are then deep fried. You can pick them up from most street-food vendors served with hot pepper sauce.
While it may make the Italians wince, the Bajan take on a macaroni pie is rich, tangy and delicious. It’s made from tubed macaroni noodles and cheese, as well as spices, tomato sauce and yellow mustard, and is a signature side dish to fish and meat all over the island.
This sweet treat is a batter mixed with coconut, pumpkin and spices, which is then wrapped in a banana leaf and steamed. Originally, they were prepared on Guy Fawkes Day, but now they’re usually made around Barbados’s Independence Day.
Pudding and souse
You may have to bear with us on this one. The “pudding” part of this dish is made from mashed and seasoned sweet potatoes, which are then stuffed into a pig’s intestine and boiled, not too unlike a sausage. “Souse” is pickled pig — traditionally it was pig trotters, ears, snout and tongue, but nowadays, it’s commonly pork meat mixed with pickled onions, cucumbers, limes, peppers and parsley. And the top spot on the island to try this Bajan delicacy? Locals will point you to the Souse Factory in St John for its variety of spice levels.
Bright green, with a prickly skin and a starchy flesh, the breadfruit is plentiful around the island — there are trees on almost every corner. Incredibly, just one of these super fruits provide enough gluten-free carbohydrates for a meal for a family of five. They can be used in sweet dishes, such as pancakes, but traditionally they’re served as a side to steamed fish in Barbados.