This month I am focusing on the food of Barbados or what is more commonly called Bajan cuisine. Barbados is an island country located in the southeastern Caribbean and not far from Venezuela. Dave and I traveled to Barbados in February and enjoyed a week on this amazing island. Barbados has a lot to offer travelers, including beautiful beaches that are all public, endless water sports, botanical gardens and a rich history. Barbados has its independence from Britain but remains in the British commonwealth. There is 100 percent literacy through good education and health care as they are both free for their 300,000 citizens.
The people of Barbados call themselves Bajans and are a unique culture in the Caribbean. They have deep religious and spiritual ideals. They are also extremely friendly. We decided to start our visit by hiring a driver to give us a private tour as Dave and I got to know the lay of the land. As we were being driven through the countryside, our driver explained why there are so many churches and nearly everyone of them has a rum shop next door. The Bajans love to socialize both at church and at the rum shops. He explained that any culture or ethnic background is welcome to join in.
I wasn’t sure what to expect with the local food but it is delicious, and for the most part, healthy. Bajan cuisine is a mixture of African, Portuguese, Indian, Irish, Creole and British influences. We found a typical meal to be chicken or fish marinated with a mix of herbs and spices, many side dishes and salad. The Sunday meal is a big deal and it is usually fried or roast chicken but can also be a fish dish. I didn’t get to try this but flying fish and cou cou are considered to be the national dishes of Barbados. The flying fish is common in the Caribbean. But Bajans are famous for knowing how to cook these amazing fish as well. The flying fish is about a foot long and can fly over the water for up to 200 feet. In Bajan cuisine, they are fried or grilled with herbs, spices and with a gravy. The flying fish is served with cou cou, which is made from cornmeal and okra and is somewhat similar to polenta or grits.
You won’t be surprised that the three new recipes for this month are dishes we enjoyed in Barbados, and they include Bajan Baked Chicken, Bajan Macaroni Pie and Caribbean Rum Mini Bundt Cakes. Bajan baked or fried chicken is very popular and has a wonderful marinade of onions, thyme, chives, garlic, cinnamon, cumin and lemons. I am a big fan of rum cake. While we were in Barbados, we didn’t drink much rum, but I brought a bottle back to test this moist, rich cake that is a treat. Finally, I will end on my personal favorite which is Bajan macaroni pie. This is the most unique macaroni recipe I have ever made, and it’s easy. The key is in the New Zealand cheddar cheese. The cows in New Zealand have a pasture-raised diet that produces an amazing rich and flavorful milk. It’s no wonder that their milk yields an incredible creamy cheese that is aged for at least 6 months!