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Dennis Jones is a Jamaican-born international economist, who has lived most of the time in the UK and USA, and latterly in Guinea, west Africa. He moved back to the Caribbean in 2007. This blog contains his observations on life on this small eastern Caribbean island, as well as views on life and issues on a broader landscape, especially the Caribbean and Africa.

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Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Putting it all on a plate: Getting inside the Bahamian.

If The Bahamas had a real army it would probably be one of the best if you accept Napoleon's adage that an army marches on its stomach, meaning if you don't feed the soldiers well they will not be much good for the fight. Bahamians love to eat.

I love a lot of Bahamian dishes of the traditional heavy kind--peas and rice, macaroni, ribs slathered in barbeque sauce, peas soup, etc.. But I really like the light meals, like conch salad (with a lot of fresh hot pepper) and conch fritters; when you think of appetizers for a small cost it's hard to beat either of these. I was shocked to pay just US$ 4 for a plate of a dozen frittersat Arawak Cay (a place by the sea where a lot of restaurants are located that specialize on Bahamian food), which fed four hearty eaters easily. But any conch dish is a good meal, though cracked conch with all those fries tends to end up pretty heavy.

One of my readers commented that it was hard to get around the idea of hot souse. Don't let a name fool you. The trick with enjoying a food is not to think of what it's like or what it's name reminds you of if you have the same name at home. English pies are not the same as French tarts. Jamaican fruit cake is as far from Dundee cake in taste as in distance. Just try it and learn what the food is. Bahamian souse is really like a soup. The word souse means either to plunge into a liquid or to steep in a mixture, as in pickling; so the term fits both Bahamian and Bajan dishes. Likewise, there's no point getting squeamish about eating one part of an animal if you eat any part of an animal: I suppose some have preferences for outer parts (like tails, snouts, feet, ears, etc.) and some have preferences for inner parts (tongue, liver, heart, gizzard, stomach, etc.). Pick your "poison". If it was kicking or licking when it moved in a field, then it can still be kicking and licking once on a plate.

I'm no food snob, and the offal (not awful) dishes that I like such as braised livers, kidneys, tripe, etc. but my wife does not not have to wait moments when she is not around, and when I can sneak off to a very select eating club to fill up on those meals.

1 comment:

Frodo said...

Yep. Had some conch fritters at Bahamas day at UWI a few years ago. Mouth watering. Also had some guava duff made by one of the friends. Ooh la la. If I could ever enjoy cooking I would be eating that stuff regularly. Alas.