I recently had the pleasure of holidaying in Barbados and along with the friendly locals, the beautiful beaches and the fantastic weather, I was able to experience some traditional Bajan food too. Not only in the nearby restaurants and bars, but also home cooked.
Whilst out and about I indulged in delights such as pan fried Swordfish on a bed of pureed yam and sweet potato, with a melon and mango salsa. Light, tasty and so fresh! Combined with the odd Dark and Stormy – a cocktail made from dark rum, ginger ale and fresh lime – all couldn’t have been more right with the world!
Back at the villa (our temporary home for the week), creating our own traditional Bajan fayre was easier than I thought! Using simple ingredients sourced locally, such as fresh tuna, red snapper, chicken and flying fish, together with farm grown vegetables like yams, okra and breadfruit, it was easy to add traditional spice combinations and apply simple cooking methods to create many a pool side feast.
A must have for every meal was Bajan hot pepper sauce. Made with mustard, scotch bonnets and turmeric, it’s a thick hot sauce with a bright yellow colour, speckled with pieces of red Bonney hot peppers. At first you have a good strong mustard flavour, but then, wait for it….the heat kicks in! This was perfect mixed up with mayonnaise and used as a spicy dip for our pre-dinner crisps and snacks!
A firm favourite was fresh tuna steak from the local fisherman (see pic) rubbed in Bajan Seasoning and seared on each side. The famous Bajan Seasoning is made up of a number of herbs and spices, including Bonney hot peppers, cloves, garlic, parsley, marjoram and thyme to create a fairly fiery kick. As much as we had all the time in the world on holiday, we didn’t want to spend it making the seasoning from scratch when there was a pool to be swum in, so we did cheat and used a jar – choosing the one with the best brand name (see pic).
We served our delicious fish with salad and Bajan Macaroni Pie, also known simply as ‘pie’. Pie is one of the most popular foods in Barbados – it’s their own take on macaroni and cheese, specially seasoned and baked to perfection so that it can be sliced and served (see pic).
Another culinary delight we were more than willing to try our hands at, was Rum Punch – essential to wash down the fantastic food of course! The Bajan’s mix a mean rum punch and we learned a little rhyme from some of the locals to help us create the perfect mix…
One of sour, Two of sweet, Three of strong, and, Four of weak… So as long as we remembered lime, sugar syrup, rum (Mount Gay of course) and water – we were set.
If it hadn’t been for the rum punch, I think Barbados offered me one of the most healthy holiday cuisines and it’s one I’m already recreating back in England!