Traditional Food In The Bahamas

traditional food in bahamas
| 5 min read

The Bahamas is an archipelago on the Atlantic Ocean and though it is geographically not on the Caribbean Sea yet culturally, aesthetically and sociologically, it is truly Caribbean. It is resplendent with the party-spirit found in the cultures of the Caribbean and replicates the sunny and bright weather of the Caribbean islands. The Bahamas is a very popular place for a tropical vacation but there is another aspect for which it is equally famous-it’s amazing cuisine. The Creole heritage of Bahamas enabled its culture as well as its cuisine to adopt the best of various cultures across many continents. So take your taste buds on a memorable ride by trying out these 10 traditional food in the Bahamas.

1. Cracked conch

GrandBahama ConchPeasRice
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user User: Jpatokal a... used under CC BY-SA 4.0

A conch is usually known to us as a wind instrument or a souvenir to grace our showcase. What most of us don’t know is that it can also be a delicious dish. In the Bahamas, people savor the tender and amazing meat found inside of a conch in a number of ways. Cracked means fried in Bahamian lingo and they bread the conch meat then deep fry it, much like a cutlet. This is then served in a curry or Creole sauce. The tender meat is pounded and then coated and deep fried then served in a savory sauce that becomes a delight that not many dishes can challenge.

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2. Pigeon peas and rice

Pigeon peas and rice
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Jose Kevo used under CC BY-SA 2.0

Pigeon peas and rice, as the name suggests, is a Bahamian dish made from pigeon peas, a type of peas found in Latin America and the Carribean, and rice. It is a classic dish made from some of the most flavorsome ingredients like pork, celery, tomatoes, thyme and of course the rice and pigeon peas. It is usually served as a side dish. The dish is wholesome and tastes heavenly as it is made with such delicious ingredients and Carribean seasonings.

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3. Red, yellow or hog snapper

Grilled Red Snapper Fish
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Rajeshvasanth used under CC BY-SA 4.0

Snapper is a common fish found in the Bahamas where the red is the most common but yellow snapper and hogfish are also available in large amounts. Bahamians do not filet their snappers and cook it whole. Snapper dishes have a whole snapper, with the head still attached, that is either grilled, stewed and fried, and then served in a tomato-based sauce. The rich taste of the snapper is well complemented by the fragrant tomato sauce, thus giving your taste buds a treat.

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4. Bahamian hot patty

Editor's Note: There's no photo available at the time of writing

The Bahamian hot patty is a famous snack across the greater Caribbean area. It is essentially a shortcrust pastry that is topped with a filling and then the pastry is folded over to make a patty. This is then baked in the oven until the crust becomes golden brown. The patty is usually circular in shape and the filling is, most of the times, made with a mixture of minced beef and veggies, but nowadays you even get vegetarian hot patty or a hotty patty with fillings of a different protein. The filling is usually spicy and extremely delicious making them pockets of flavour. It is a popular on-the-go-snack and perfect partner to fruit cocktails.

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5. Guava duff

Editor's Note: There's no photo available at the time of writing

The guava duff is a dessert where you take guava, cover it with pastry dough and then boil it. The result is a soft cake that melts in the mouth to give a heavenly taste of guava. This local delicacy is often served with a rum custard sauce but can also be consumed without it. After a heavy and spicy meal, this dessert is perfect to balance the heat of the Creole spices.

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6. The Yellow Bird

Editor's Note: There's no photo available at the time of writing

On looking at the name, one would think of a dish made of the meat of probably a yellow colored bird found locally. It is, though, a cocktail made with the juices of tropical fruits and rum. The Yellow Bird is made by adding orange juice, apricot brandy, pineapple juice, galliano, banana, liqueur(optional) and of course rum, the national alcoholic beverage of the Bahamas, in a glass and giving it a thorough stir. The resultant concoction is a cocktail that is perfect for sipping on a relaxing day at the beach or on the deck of a cruise ship in the Carribean seas. The bitter taste of the rum is balanced by the sweet juices of the fruit thus giving you a sweet-bitter taste to savor.

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7. Rum cake

Rum cake
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Kent Wang used under CC BY-SA 2.0

Rum is the national beverage of the Bahamas and so it comes as no surprise that rum cake is the ubiquitous item across restaurants there. Rum cake has a generous amount of rum in it, both in the cake and the sauce that is drizzled over it. It is like other cakes but with rum infused in it. Traditionally the cake is made in a bundt cast and has the shape of a ring. This airy, well-baked cake gives a punch with the rum in it and is a perfect companion to your cup of tea or coffee. The cake is also served as a dessert.

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8. Johnnycake

Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Dqfn13 used under CC BY-SA 4.0

Johnnycake is the staple and unofficial bread in Bahamian cuisine. It is similar to cornbread found in the Southern cuisine of America. This bread is made with milk, flour, butter and sugar, and the concoction is cooked in a pan and not an oven. This bread is usually eaten with curries and stews but in contemporary dishes, we can see johnnycakes being treated as burger buns with delicious shark meat, or some other exotic meat, in between.

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9. Goombay marmalade

Editor's Note: There's no photo available at the time of writing

Bahamian cuisine is mainly known for its fresh and spicy seafood dishes but one cannot justify Bahamian food without the mention of Goombay. It is a typical Bahamian marmalade made from pineapple, papaya, and green ginger. It is like a tropical jam where the sweetness of the pineapple and papaya is well balanced by the spicy ginger flavor. Like other marmalades, this is eaten as a spread over slices of bread.

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10. Fried or seared grouper with grits

Grouper Reuben
Source: Photo by Flickr user jchapiewsky used under CC BY-SA 2.0

Grouper is another popular fish in the Bahamas and with it, the locals make an amazing dish that comes with grits. The fish filet is seared (sometimes fried) and the seasoning is done with tomatoes and garlic. A delicious vegetable gravy is then poured delicately over the fish. This is served with grits which is topped with grated cheese. The flavor of the garlic and the rich taste the seared grouper is well balanced by the acidity of the tomatoes and the creaminess of the grits. One bite of this dish can take you on a roller coaster of different flavors.

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Dishes of the Caribbean

These 10 dishes are delicious and best represents Bahamian cuisine. Appetizers like pigeon peas and rice to entrees like seared grouper with grits to desserts like the decadent guava duff and rum cake, and finally drinks as lip-smacking as the Yellow Bird, Bahamian cuisine is a complete treat to your taste buds. So try these amazing food without any delay.

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