Monday, September 12, 2011


            I say I come here for the sun, sand, relaxation and the friendly people…. And while those attributes certainly weigh in heavily on anyone’s decision for a “sun” destination, who am I kidding?  It’s THE FOOD!!!!!
Maybe it’s because I’m thousands of miles away from home, maybe it’s the heat, or, maybe it’s just because these people can COOK! I know, too, that, sometimes, because of the unfamiliar ingredients, my friends can’t understand my liking for this “foreign” food. But that unfamiliarity is precisely what attracts me… not so much the high-end restaurant dishes, but the dishes and meals the everyday folks enjoy are what I want to experience.
            I sampled  a delightful chocolate number last week, sort of like cheesecake, but, firmer in texture. With a ton of chopped nuts and a sprinkling of fresh coconut all relaxing dreamily  in a pool of decadent chocolate sauce…Heavenly!!  I didn’t manage to con the chef out of his recipe, though.  He was a crafty one, caught on to me right away!

TO MARKET TO MARKET, TO FISH MARKET WE GO.  This place is really the place to get the freshest of the Caribbean Sea’s bounty. Brightly painted fishing boats (No, I wouldn’t venture out into the high seas in one of them!!) line up on the strip of bright, white sand beach at Oistins, bringing in the day’s catch. No chilly North Atlantic wind blowing here, just a refreshing trade wind.

The area set aside as the fish market is open air, of course.  The long tables are separated by stall-like walls (not so different from markets around the world).Word to the wise, though choose your place in line very carefully as things can get quite competitive when it comes to the fish heads, bones and scraps, as literally nothing goes to waste in this tiny Caribbean island. Thankfully, there are very few closed in buildings here in Barbados.
Oistin’s fish Market by day. In those very market stalls, fisherwomen prepare the catch for sale.
            It was in the small village of Oistins, several years ago where I first found out, that Bajans (the term the island’s people use to refer to themselves), particularly Bajan women, DO NOT! like to be photographed. I finally found one fisherlady who agreed to pose. Even though she’d agreed a picture. This one truly encompassed the age-old adage that a “picture is worth a thousand words”.  By the look on her face, I would say a thousand words wouldn’t be enough!!

             Oistins Fish Market Oistins Fish Fry by nightwhen the entire area  transforms into a carnival-like atmosphere, bright, decorative lights replace the sun, chart-topping reggae and rap replace steel pan tunes In those very market stalls some of those same fisherladies become chefs “extraordinaire”, serving up fresh fish, chicken and steaks hot out of deep oil boiling away in huge cast iron pots reminiscent of cauldrons, heating over white-hot hard-wood fires, complete with sides of Macaroni Pie (similar to our Mac and Cheese, or coucou, a Bajan “grits-like” dish. A special treat I indulge in all too often when I’m here is Fish Cakes They are deep fried salt fish balls with a distinct spicy heat provided by a “Green Seasoning” mixture of hot peppers and various green herbs, similar in heat to Jamaican Jerk Seasoning There are as many versions of this special recipe for green seasoning as there are cooks in Barbados I scored a great one from our chef-friend, and Kent’s Karaoke partner, Chef Dale Knight. I also scored a gallon-size jug of the valuable stuff of it  from the sister of our apartment building’s manager. I re-packaged the entire gallon when I got it home, using it sparingly and sharing it with friends and family  It was here in Oistins that I learned another valuable people lesson. When you purchase from one vendor, you are considered a faithful customer, never to eat another vendor’s food! (I’m serious!!! And they remember, found that out too!) I didn’t know customer loyalty could be cut-throat… I know better, now!!