#TracingOurRoots through Barbados
We’re celebrating Black History long after the month of February. Through Juneteenth, we are #TracingOurRoots through the African Diaspora by highlighting different cities, countries and regions. For each region we focus on, Robin & I are hoping to celebrate the traditions, culture and cuisine that have been influenced by the routes of migration of African peoples. For our next stop, we’re on the beautiful island of Barbados, located off the Southeastern coast of the United States in the Carribean. A one-of-a-kind region, Barbados is a country with a unique history that contains traces of a multitude of ethnic influences. It also happens to be where my husband is from, please enjoy our photos from the trips we’ve taken back to his home.
Since the 13th century, the island has been inhabited by the Kalinago indigenous people, and other Amerindians after. It was then invaded by Spanish settlers in the 15th century, followed by the Portuguese Empire who abandoned it in 1620. Less than ten years later in 1627, ships from England colonized the island to became the first permanent settlers and they brought the African slave trade along with them.
Through its complex history, a strong and incredibly vibrant culture has emerged, resulting in unforgettable cuisine, arts and style that people from all over the world travel to experience. Pack your bags and join us as we hit the easy breezy Carribean island of Barbados, one delicious glass of wine at a time.
Image via wikiwand.com
An Island of Traditions
Barbadian, or Bajan traditions are a fusion of West African and British practices that have resulted in a range of electrifying festivals, intricate arts and crafts, and extravagant performances.
Landship is an inherent part of Bajan culture, with origins dating back to the 1800s. It is best described as a theatrical group that performs complex dances reflecting the passage of ships traveling through rugged seas and the adventures that occur onboard.
The performers wear costumes similar to those worn in the navy and the dance is based around the structure of the British Navy but they are performed to an African rhythm that is typically accompanied by a Tuk band, another intrinsic part of Bajan culture.
Image via Nationnews.com
The Crop Over Festival
The Crop Over Festival is an exciting, vibrant 200 year old festival that marks the end of the sugar cane season. Rooted deep in the colonial history of Barbados, when sugar cane ruled the island, this festival is now all about celebrating creativity from indigenous art and crafts to flower and folk performances. Lasting for three months starting in August, the finale of the festival marks the most exciting day of the year when you will hear Bajans say: "Crop Over it sweet fuh days!" This gives us a reason to stay in Barbados for three months, you coming?
Dancers at the Crop Over Festival. Image via theglassmagazine.com
As a small island with an incredibly vast culinary heritage, get ready for a melting pot of incredible flavors from India, Africa and England that combine to create a range of unique, varied dishes that intrigue all the senses.
With an abundance of fresh produce, local Bajans produce an array of tasty dishes including macaroni pie, fish cakes, bakes, cassava pone, salt bread, rice and peas, conkies, coconut turnovers, and of course, the national dish.
Ask any Bajan what to eat in Barbados and they point you towards the national dish - flying fish and cou cou. Flying fish is a native fish and is so important that it’s featured on the country’s national currency. Barbados, at one point in history, was referred to as the “island of the flying fish” due to the abundance of flying fish that inhabited the waters. The fish tastes great on its own, steamed with acidic lime juice or fried, however, with cou cou, which is similar to grits or polenta in texture, it’s a dish you’ll never forget.Fried flying fish image via trip101.com
Flying Fish & Cou Cou
You know we love the iconic flying fish, however, it’s time to share the wonders of cou cou. Made from a combination of cornmeal and okra, cou cou is a warming comfort dish that you will come across at many restaurants in Barbados. Tasting like a savory porridge, cou cou pairs perfectly with spicier Bajan dishes too. If you want to follow Bajan tradition, prepare this dish on a Friday or Saturday, or throw it together mid-week for a delicious work day indulge. Your tastebuds will love you for it.
The Wine Pairing
Flying fish is a mild white fish, with a firm, tender texture, similar to cod or haddock. If you’re able to fry your fish at home we’d recommend pairing it with a chilled glass of our McBride Sisters Collection Black Girl Magic NV California Sparkling Brut as the bubbles will balance the delicious greasy fried fish and complement the diverse flavors in the dish.
If your fish is grilled or baked, this medium-textured fish would pair beautifully with an aromatic white wine with high acidity. Sound familiar? Pair this traditional dish with our McBride Sisters Collection Black Girl Magic Riesling, the aromatics will complement the fish and the high acidity will travel to the end of every bite of the fish and cou cou.
For the Cocktail Lovers
Being the birthplace of rum, it goes without saying that we absolutely must include a rum-based recipe. We’ve taken this Barbados Rum punch recipe and given it a twist with our McBride Sisters Collection Black Girl Magic NV California Sparkling Brut, since you already have the bottle open from the wine pairing above! Enjoy, and as the Bajans say, time flies when you’re having rum!
What we're making: Barbados Rum Punch
2 ounces aged Barbados rum (such as Mount Gay)
1 ounce fresh lime juice
1 ounce rich simple syrup (2 parts sugar, 1 part water)
1 dash Angostura bitters
McBride Sisters Collection Black Girl Magic NV California Sparkling Brut
Nutmeg and lime wheel, to garnish
Image and original recipe via liquor.com
Add all ingredients into a shaker with ice and shake.
Strain into a Collins glass over fresh ice.
Top up with McBride Sisters Collection Black Girl Magic NV California Sparkling Brut
Garnish with a pinch of freshly grated nutmeg and a lime wheel.
Robin and I have loved taking this trip to Barbados with you. From vibrant food to mesmerizing performances and strong traditions this is a country we believe should be on everyone’s bucket list. Now, for our next and final stop… we’re heading to NOLA!