What To Eat When You’re In…Barbados

8th March 2019

Caribbean food is just as vibrant as the region’s people and culture. Sauces made from fresh fruit, a rich flavour that often comes from layers of spice and a healthy dose of pulses on the side – these are all fantastic characteristics of Caribbean cuisine.

Whether it’s part of a regional meal on board the ship or a lazy lunch when you step on shore, there are sure to be plenty of chances to taste some of the local dishes when you arrive in Barbados. So, what should be at the top of your list when it comes to choosing from the menu?

Light Lunches

Bajan Fish Cakes

Cutters

The first thing to know about cutters is that they are made using salt bread – a ubiquitous carb that apparently goes with anything and everything that’s part of Bajan cuisine. In most cases, the salt bread will be served on the side but, when it comes to cutters, it takes a more central ‘roll’. A cutter is basically a sandwich and traditionally these have fillings such as baked ham, cheese or fish. They are great as a snack on the go or as part of a small lunch.

Fishcakes and Bakes

In the past, these light bites were shaped into the usual flat-topped rounds that you may associate with fish cakes. However, they are increasingly being made in the shape of small balls, making them effortlessly snackable – especially with a dipping pot of hot sauce on the side. Consisting of salt fish and a range of local herbs and spices, they are covered in batter and fried to create spheres of joy. You may also see cutters with two fish cakes as the filling – something called ‘bread and two’.

As well as inside a sandwich, they are commonly served alongside another fried delight known as bakes. To produce these, a simple pancake batter is made with the addition of spices such as nutmeg and cinnamon. Deliciously moreish, bakes are the kind of thing for which every family has its own recipe.

Dinners To Die For

Flying Fish

Cou Cou and Flying Fish

If you find yourself ordering Barbados’s national dish from a restaurant menu, always make sure you say ‘cou cou and flying fish’ and not the other way around. This is such a popular staple that you’re likely to find it wherever you go on the island and it’s definitely something worth trying.

The flying fish half is simple to imagine. These soaring sea creatures are found in abundance in Caribbean waters and are typically filleted and then fried in a coating of salt, pepper, spices and breadcrumbs. Cou cou is something you’re likely to be less familiar with, but it’s just as delicious. It’s similar to polenta and made using cornmeal, okra and onions. There’s even such a thing as a cou cou stick that’s used to stir the ingredients to ensure the final product is smooth and not lumpy.

Rice And Peas

This versatile accompaniment to chicken, pork or fish is probably one of the first things that would come to mind when you think about Bajan cuisine (or Caribbean food in general). Most of the time, savoury pigeon peas are used but it’s not unknown for split or black-eyed peas to be included instead. The rice is boiled in coconut milk, which helps it contrast beautifully with the spicy seasoning on the meat.

Pudding and Souse

This dish may not sound like the most appetising option but it’s one of the most traditional foods you’ll find in Barbados and something that ensures very little waste. Making use of parts of a pig that would usually just be thrown away, the ‘souse’ element consists of pickled trotters, snout, tongue, etc. mixed together with the fresh flavours of cucumber, lime and parsley.

The other half of the dish, the ‘pudding’, brings the sweetness and gives yet another part of the pig an important job. Sweet potato is mashed and put inside a clean intestine (in a similar way that you would make a sausage). It’s then steamed to give it a lovely, creamy texture. Don’t be put off by the ingredients, give it a go.

Sweet Treats

Black Cake

Bajan Black Cake

Cakes like this can be found all over the Caribbean, showcasing the love of rum that the region has. This dessert actually has British origins, though, as the recipe started life as a festive Figgy Pudding. The colour typically comes from dark sugar, dried fruits and (sometimes) stout. The rich flavour is thanks to the generous dose of spices used. And that light-headed feeling you get after eating it, well that would probably be the red wine and syrup liqueur called falernum that both go in on top of the large drop of rum.

Conkies

Eaten in abundance around Barbados Independence Day (30th November), conkies are a great sweet snack to try as you explore your latest port of call. A filling of corn flour, coconut, pumpkin, sugar, dried fruits and spices is placed inside a folded banana leaf and then steamed until just firm but still beautifully gooey.

Sweet Bread

Salt bread’s dessert cousin is sweet bread. However, the texture of this treat is quite removed from that which you would expect from a typical loaf. Also known as coconut bread, it’s made with grated coconut, sugar and sometimes raisins – all of which gives it a crumbly consistency which is often compared to a cookie.


If you would like the chance to try any of these Bajan foods, take a look at our range of Caribbean cruises that visit Barbados. You can call the team on 0845 200 6145 or speak to an advisor via our online chat.

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