Culinary Styles

Photo credit: © SnippyHolloW

Long days spent exploring the local shops and museums or soaking up the gorgeous Caribbean surf and sun are bound to give vacationers a formidable appetite. Luckily, Barbados has enough options to suit every palate.  In fact, the culinary styles found on the island reflect the rich cultural heritage of the area while still managing to incorporate many pleasant yet unexpected international flavors.

In recent years, world-class gourmet chefs have begun to arrive, and their skilled presence is noted in the gourmet dishes served in Barbados' newest upscale restaurants. Many of these establishments imcoucport spices, vegetables, and other fresh ingredients directly from Europe and the United States in order to complement local fare, a different way of providing travelers with an intriguing blend of the familiar and the exotic.

...great variety of regional fish...


Most vacationers will be eager to sample the island's local fare. Barbados culinary styles tend to incorporate many fresh, regional ingredients. Seafood is a staple, and local fishermen provide a great variety of regional fish including snapper, dolphin fish (also known as mahi mahi), baracudda, king fish (wahoo), bill fish, chubb, yellow fin tuna, and many types of shellfish. Additionally, flying fish is featured on a vast majority of menus. This treat, a national favorite, can be served in many ways.  Adventurous eaters will definitely want to sample "sea eggs," which is deviled sea urchin roe, while those who are more cautious about what they consume should try fish cakes.  Fish cakes are made from salted cod fish seasoned with various herbs and peppers, dipped in flour, and fried.  Similarly, the most common way to serve any type of fish on the islands is to season it, coat it with eggs and breadcrumbs, and fry it.

When it comes to seasoning Bajan food, islanders have perfected their spices so much so that they even have a blend of spices called Bajan Seasoning.  Bajan Seasoning is a mixture of fresh herbs and spices including thyme, marjoram, parsley, basil, clove, black pepper, paprika, salt, and onions, garlic, and spring onions.

Locals enjoy "cutters" which are large flying fish sandwiches often served with a side of  "coucou," a dish made from cornmeal seasoned with okra and topped with a spicy blend of tomatoes, onions, and peppers.  Indeed, this is such a popular meal that it is considered to be the island's national dish.  Coconut bread is a filling snack, as is "rotis," curried meat and vegetables wrapped in unlevened bread.


Other favorites include a Bajan "pepper-pot," (or "cohobblopot") a hearty stew made of oxtail and beef simmered for days in a very rich, spicy gravy as well as milder options like "conkies," a blend of cornmeal, coconut, pumpkin, raisins, sweet potatoes and spices steamed inside a banana leaf.  Sweet potatoes also appear in "pudding and souse," along with pickled pork.

Local staples, that perhaps aren't so unique that tourists feel the urge to sample them while on the island, are an integral part of the Bajan diet.  Examples include "rice'n'peas," usually flavored with coconut, plantains, and breadfruit.  Common side dishes encompass a broad range; yams, sweet potato, eddo, cassava, rice, and variously prepared pastas and potatoes.  Macaroni and cheese is another popular side, though it is simply refereed to as "pie" on the island. 

Not to be outdone, the drinks available on the island of Barbados are also unique and flavorful. Rum is popular on the islands, with rum bars being a huge part of the social scene.  One of the most popular concoctions is "falernum," a liqueur comprised of rum, sugar, lime, and almond essence. Rum is even the main ingredient of the island's most popular dessert "Black Cake."  Black Cake is actually a fruit cake soaked in rum, and is typically served at weddings and Christmas.  "Mauby," a nonalcoholic alternative, is made by boiling and straining a local bark. Once sweetened, it tastes like a very potent sarsaparilla.  Ginger beer is another popular non-alcoholic drink indigenous to the island.  Barbados natural resources, however, may outshine them all.  Unlike many other Caribbean countries, water in Barbados is extremely potable, pure, and tastes delicious directly from the tap.

With so many delectable options to choose from, narrowing down what types of food you'd like to sample is going to be hard.  You can search our Restaurant Directory by type of cuisine, allowing you to determine in advance where you would like to eat, and even call to make reservations.  If you know the name of any restaurant you'd like to dine at, click here.  As you try and determine where you would like to stay, check out A to Z: Hotels in Detail.  This directory will list for you all of the accommodations in Barbados, give you important details regarding amenities, and even provide you with a list of restaurants near said hotel.  Finally, find out which hotels have restaurants on property by reading Best Hotels for Dining Options.

Visitors are usually pleasantly surprised by the wide range of foods offered throughout the region because the multicultural influences ensure that everyone is able to find something they like. Enjoying the delicious fare that abounds on Barbados is the perfect way to end fun-filled days spent exploring the island.


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