Did You Know?

Did You Know?

Lucayan Indians inhabited the Islands of The Bahamas between 900 and 1500 AD.

The Bahamas is technically not in the Caribbean.

The Bahamas, officially, The Commonwealth of The Bahamas, is an island country.  The Bahamas became a British colony in 1718, when the British clamped down on piracy.

Piracy in The Bahamas lasted from 1690 to 1720.

The Bahamas is a unitary parliamentary democracy and a constitutional monarchy.

In 1968, the title of the leader of The Bahamas was changed from primer to prime minister.

The Bahamas has approximately 700 islands of which only 28 are inhabited by natives.

The climate is tempered by the cooling trade winds and is cooler than other Caribbean islands due to its location.  The average temperature in The Bahamas ranges from 80°F – 88°F in the summer and 70°F – 78°F in the winter.

The Bahamas has a land area of 5,382 square miles spread out over approximately 90,000 square miles of water in the south western portion of the Western Atlantic Ocean.

The actor Sir Sydney Poitier is from Cat Island, one of the 700 Islands in The Bahamas.

The highest point in The Bahamas is only 63m (206 ft) above sea level.  ‘Mount’ Alvernia on Cat Island, which is a raised, tilted reef.  Almost all land in The Bahamas is made of raised coral reefs and sand bars.  As a result, there is very little elevation in the country.

The name Bahamas comes from the Spanish term ‘baja mar’ which means shallow seas.

The Bahamas is one of only 5 places in the world that has pink sand beaches.  The sand is formed from foraminifera, a microscopic marine animal with a bright pink or red shell.

The first English settlers in The Bahamas settled on the island of Eleuthera, which is from the Greek word meaning freedom.  After being shipwrecked in Eleuthera, they sailed to Boston to seek assistance for their settlement in The Bahamas.  Upon returning to Eleuthera, these settlers shipped braselitto wood to Boston to thank the people of Massachusetts for the support they had given them.  The proceeds from this precious wood was used to purchase land for Harvard College, which eventually become Harvard University.

Charles Town on New Providence Island was burnt to the ground by the Spanish in 1684, but later rebuilt and renamed Nassau in 1695 in honour of King William III who was formerly Prince Orange of Nassau.

The slave trade was the main economic enterprise on the island after the departure of the first Royal

Governor of the island, Captain Woodes Rogers.  Slavery ended in the island in 1838.

Christ Church Cathedral was built in 1837.  The site has been occupied by a church for 300 years, according to records dating back to 1684.  The old church has been the seat of the Anglican Bishop since 1861.  In that year Queen Victoria issued letters of Patent constituting Christ Church a Cathedral and ordained that the whole town of Nassau henceforth be called the City of Nassau.

The first Post Office was in Pitts Town, Crooked Island.

Rake N’ Scrape music took form on Cat Island with instruments made from everyday objects like screwdrivers and raking hand saws.

The National Bahamas Family Island Regatta features five days of sailing and only sloops made in The Bahamas are permitted to compete in the event.  This tradition started back in 1954 when approximately 70 Bahamian sloops, schooners, and dinghies gathered in Elizabeth Harbor for three days of racing.  Today the regatta offers five days of sailing, and this is one of the oldest regattas in the Islands of The Bahamas with sailing craft representing each of the major Out Islands.

Junkanoo, a street festival dating back to slavery, is the most vivid form of Bahamian cultural expression.  Participants gather in the wee hours of the morning to “rush” in costumes down the main Bay Street in Nassau.  Thousands of dancers and musicians adorned elaborate and colorful hand-made costumes and compete for top prizes in music, “Junkanooers” shake cowbells, use whistles, blow brass instruments and beat goat-skin drums.  The major parade takes place twice a year – Boxing Day and New Year’s Day but you can catch a glimpse of a mini ‘rush out’ as a part of the entertainment options at any of the major resorts or restaurants.

Cat Island’s original name was San Salvador meaning “Christ the Saviour” before it received its present name back in 1926; said to be for the pirate Arthur Catt, who used to make frequent stops here.

The Greek Orthodox Church was established in 1932.

Long Island in The Bahamas is split by the Tropic of Cancer.

Eleuthera was founded in 1648 and is the birthplace of The Bahamas.

Andros has the 3rd largest barrier reef in the world.

The famous Paradise Island of The Bahamas was originally called Hog Island.  The island is located just off the shore of the city of Nassau, which is itself located on the northern edge of the island of New Providence.  Paradise Island is best known for the sprawling Atlantis Resort.

The Bahamas has the clearest waters in the world, with visibility of over 200 feet.  It has been scientifically proven that a specific alga, which requires light to live, is found deeper in The Bahamas than anywhere else on Earth.


Glass Window Bridge – Eleuthera, The Bahamas

The Glass Window Bridge is one of Eleuthera’s more popular attractions.  The man-made bridge took the place of a naturally formed bridge and rock that was destroyed in a hurricane.  From the bridge, you can see a phenomenal contrast between the dark blue waters of the Atlantic Ocean churning away on one side and the calm, turquoise waters of the Caribbean Sea on the other side.  The colors and contrast are truly amazing.

About 250 feet below the water line surrounding The Bahamas, you will find an intricate cave system.  It is said that during the glacial ice ages, the waterline was below this cave system.  The acid water rain is said to have created the ravines as it runs on the limestone surface.  The cave system is to be found in the Lucayan National Park, Freeport, Grand Bahama.

Pirates, privateers, and buccaneers infested the area from early 1600 – 1700s.  The shallow waters provided the perfect place for experienced pirates to lure heavily laden merchant ships and Spanish galleons on the reefs, where they were wrecked and relieved of their cargo.

The following movies were filmed here in The Bahamas:

Thunderball, Armor the World, Under the Sea, You Only Live Twice, The Day of the Dolphin, Flipper’s New Adventures, Pirates of the Caribbean, After Sunset, Casino Royale, Dead Man’s Chest.

The Bahamas has the third largest registry of ships.

Michael Thompson, Clay Thompson and Buddy Hield are all NBA players from The Bahamas.

Bahamian cuisine includes seafood such as fish, conch (shellfish), crawfish, crab and turtle.  To compliment the meal there is coleslaw, peas and rice, potato salad, baked macaroni and cheese and fried plantains.


Bahamian Cuisine

Although virtually any type of international food can be found in The Bahamas, it would be a mistake to miss an opportunity to sample the local cuisine. No matter where you are, you won’t have any difficulty finding plenty of restaurants serving Bahamian cuisine and fresh local seafood at reasonable prices.

Seafood is the staple of Bahamian cuisine–especially conch (pronounced konk), the firm, white, peach-fringed meat from a large type of ocean mollusk. Fresh, uncooked conch is delicious; the conch meat is scored with a knife, and lime juice and spices are sprinkled over the meat. It can also be deep-fried (called “cracked conch”), steamed, added to soups, salads, and stews or made into conch chowder and conch fritters. The Bahamian “rock lobster” is a spiny variety without claws that is served broiled, minced or used in salads. Other delicacies include boiled or baked land crabs, which can be seen before they are cooked running across the roads after dark.

Fresh fish also plays a major role in the cooking of The Bahamas–a popular brunch is boiled fish served with grits and when done right, is often the most flavorful way to enjoy the taste of a fresh catch. Stew fish, made with celery, onions, tomatoes and various spices, is another local specialty. Many dishes are accompanied by pigeon peas and rice (the infamous peas’n’rice served throughout the Caribbean), with spices, tomatoes, onions, and bacon added.

Peas also figure prominently in the wide array of fragrant Bahamian soups–pea soup with dumplings and salt beef and the familiar split pea and ham soup are just two of the many pea-based broths. One soup unique to the Caribbean and Bahamas is the souse (pronounced sowse)–the only ingredients are water, onions, lime juice, celery, peppers, and meat; no thickeners are added. The meat added to a souse is often ox-tail or pigs’ feet, giving the souse a delicious, rich flavor, new to many visitors.

The cuisine of The Bahamas is never, ever bland. Spicy, subtly and uniquely flavored with local meats and produce, more than any other cuisine in the West Indies, Bahamian cooking has been influenced by the American South. One very popular example of this influence is the “fish’n’grits” mentioned above.


What Do Bahamians Eat?

Bahamian Breakfasts

Start your day right

Eat a traditional Bahamian breakfast, and you bite into the country’s history.

“It’s what we grew up with,” says Felicia Rolle, a Bahamian student standing in a breakfast line-up in Nassau, ready to buy breakfast, which may include chicken, fresh fish, mutton souse sheep tongue souse, sardines or corned beef. These foods represent the diversity of cultures that have helped to shape The Bahamas.

Grits, grits, grits
If there is a foundation to the Bahamian breakfast, it’s grits. Anything else on the plate is a bonus. Grits are dried ground hominy, or corn. Mixed with boiling water, grits become a porridge ranging from a thin gruel to a stiff paste as thick as mashed potatoes. During slavery, Bahamian owners gave each slave a weekly corn or grits ration, which slaves reconstituted with boiling water.

While hominy and grits are an American Indian food, cooking ground grain in hot water is also a connection back to Africa. Throughout the continent, subsistence farmers make a similar dish only out of millet instead of hominy. In South Africa it’s mealie meal or mielie pap; people in Zimbabwe and Namibia call it sudza. In other countries, citizens call it different names, but it’s the same food. Often, it’s the entire meal, or most of the meal, supplemented with some meat or vegetables.

For breakfast, Bahamians like to add a serving of corned beef, tuna or sardines to round out the plate. Corned beef reflects the British era. In the colonial period, Great Britain dominated Bahamian trade, sending its products to the colony. Large quantities of corned beef – low quality beef preserved in salt brine – were exported to The Bahamas. It was a cheap food that kept in the days before refrigeration. Corned beef became a dietary staple for slaves and the poor. But it was frequently spoiled or semi-spoiled; cooks mixed spices, peppers and vegetables to mask the flavour. They also added vegetables to stretch the meat. Today’s Bahamas-style corned beef resulted.

Fish for breakfast?
Serving sardines, mackerel or tuna with a plate of grits is as natural as bacon and eggs in North America. Even first thing in the morning, Bahamians, like the indigenous Arawak before them, have looked to the sea for their protein. Stew’ fish, stew’ conch and boil’ fish jump start many Bahamians every morning. Boil’ fish is a fish broth with onions and potatoes. Stew’ fish is cooked in a flour-based gravy, prepared from a roux of flour and oil with tomato paste.

And like stew, no two cooks use the same recipe. Most season the fish with lime, salt and pepper before cooking. Lime juice and goat pepper are the only seasonings added during cooking. Additional pepper is added at the table with slices of lime.

Souse (rhymes with house) is another universal breakfast soup. Instead of fish, souses use chicken or meat. Sheep tongue souse, a classic favourite, dates to the times of slavery.

Described as “too thick for soup and too thin for stew,” souse combines vegetables – often what the cook has on hand – and meat together. Salt, goat pepper and lime season the meal. When the cook is generous with lime and pepper, souse packs a punch, which is probably why Bahamians consider souse the perfect meal after a festive night. Some claim it cures hangovers.

Johnny cake
Whatever the choice, no true island breakfast is complete without Johnny cake (also called journey cake).

Johnny cake is a cross between British wheat-flour soda bread and the cornbread of the American Deep South. When people travelled, they carried it, hence the name.

Johnny cake has evolved and today some recipes are sweet. Almost every restaurant offers its version of the bread as a choice replacing toast.

Bahamians still enjoy their traditional breakfasts at home and on the go. Increasingly, when they don’t have time to eat at home, they grab something quick and easy on their way to work. Patties, originally a Jamaican snack, are sold at convenience stores, filling stations and small cafes, and many eat the meat-filled pastries during their morning commute.

Whatever their breakfast choice, Bahamians wash it down with tea or coffee fortified with gargantuan servings of sugar and cream.

Throughout the archipelago, restaurants offer Bahamian breakfasts. Some dishes, such as sheep tongue souse, may require a bit of searching or a special request. But the search is worth it.

Bahamian breakfasts are a great way to start the day.

Lunch

SEAFOOD

It’s no surprise that seafood is a major component of Bahamian cuisine. The beautiful waters surrounding the islands have provided the residents of The Bahamas with a bounty of fresh seafood and shellfish for generations.

Conch pronounced “konk,” is a local staple and the national dish of The Bahamas. This mollusk is found throughout regional waters and its meat is prepared in a variety of ways. At Arawak Cay (also known as The Fish Fry), you can watch conch salad being artfully prepared, and try conch fritters or cracked conch, battered and deep-fried conch meat seasoned to perfection. Another popular preparation of this unique seafood is conch chowder, a tomato-based soup with conch that is stewed until the meat is succulently tender.

Crawfish –  Lobster looks quite different than lobster found in colder waters. This spiny, clawless lobster is often served broiled, or minced up in salads. Fresh fish is very prominent in Bahamian cuisine, and dishes like fried snapper or grouper served with grits, or peas and rice, are very common.

SIDE DISHES

Peas n’ rice is a staple of Caribbean cooking, and you’ll find peas n’ rice as a side dish for many Bahamian meals. The “peas” in question are pigeon peas, a hearty legume that is cooked with rice, tomatoes, onions, often some salt pork, and spices.

Another classic Bahamian side dish is baked macaroni and cheese. Different from its saucier American counterpart, Bahamian Mac and Cheese is seasoned with onions, green peppers, and a variety of spices and herbs, thickened with eggs and evaporated milk, and baked. It’s cut into squares and served as a hearty component of lunch, dinner, and holiday meals.

A true Bahamian meal would not be complete without one of these other side dishes on your plate: a creamy potato salad and Cole slaw. Bahamian Cole slaw is slightly sweet, thanks to a generous pinch of sugar in the dressing.

Of course, when we’re talking about Bahamian dishes, we can’t forget Johnny Cake. This simple bread is eaten as a snack or side dish, and its simple flavor easily compliments every meal. Try our recipe for Johnny Cake and see how easy-to-make and delicious this Bahamian staple truly is!

Breakfast

  • Salads – Tuna • Sardines  Mackerel  Avocado Boiled or Stewed Fish   Stew Conch  served with white or yellow grits and Johnny Cake
  • Porridge (Cream of Wheat)  Oatmeal
  • Souses – Chicken  Mutton, Oxtail, Pig Feet, Sheep Tongue, Spareribs served with white grits and Johnny Cake
  • Steamed – Tuna, Sardines, Mackerel, Ham, Sausages, Corned Beef
  • Stew – Chicken, Conch, Fish
  • Eggs prepared scrambled or over-easy, with pancakes, waffles, bacon, ham, and/or sausages
  • Minced Fish, Minced Crawfish with peas and grits
  • NB. All the above can be served with white rice, white or yellow grits, peas and grits and Johnny cake.

Breakfast Beverages

  • Ovaltine  Tea  Coffee  Juices (Apple, Orange, Cranberry, Pineapple)  Horlicks, Milo, Bonvita, Lemonade/Switcha

Lunch

Appetizers

  • Conch Fritters
  • Conch Salad
  • Scorched Conch
  • Grouper Fingers
  • Chicken Wings
  • Lobster Salad
  • Soups – Bean, Crab, Dumpling, Okra, Split Pea, Pumpkin, Crab and Dough, Lobster Bisque, Lobster Thermidor
  • Everyday Meals
  • Meat
  • Cracked Conch, Cracked Chicken, Cracked Lobster, Grouper Fingers
  • Grouper Filet
  • Fried Fish – Snapper, Grouper, Barracuda
  • Fried Chicken, Pork Chop,
  • Steam – Mutton, Pork Chop, Chicken, Lobster, Lamb Chop, Ham, Grouper
  • Stew – Beef, Fish, Conch
  • Curry – Chicken, Goat
  • Minced – Crab, Fish (Turbot), Lobster, Grouper
  • Meat Loaf
  • Stuffed – Chicken, Pork Chop
  • Conch Chowder
  • Barbecue – Chicken, Ribs
  • Baked – Chicken, Fish, Lamb
  • Meat Loaf

Sides – Hot

  • Peas and Rice
  • Bean and Rice
  • Pigeon Peas and Rice
  • White Grits
  • Yellow Grits
  • Peas and Grits
  • Conch and Rice
  • Corn and Rice
  • Crab and Rice
  • Mashed Potatoes
  • Plantains
  • Macaroni and Cheese
  • Beef Lasagna
  • Vegetables – Carrots, Corn, Broccoli, Cauliflower, Cabbage, Steamed Cabbage

Sides – Cold

  • Cole Slaw
  • Potato Salad
  • Beets
  • Salads
  • Lettuce and Tomatoes
  • Tossed Salad
  • Greek Salad

Desserts

  • Guava Duff
  • Pineapple Tart
  • Coconut Tart
  • Bread Pudding
  • Banana Bread
  • Coconut Cream
  • Benny Cake
  • Coconut Cake
  • Peanut Brittle
  • Carrot Cake
  • Rum Cake

Drinks

  • Local Beer – Kalik, Sands
  • Concoctions – Sky Juice/ Gully Wash
  • Mixed Drinks – Bahama Mama, The Pain Killer, Yellow Bird, Frozen Rum Runner, Goombay Smash, Bush Wacker, Rum Punch, Hibiscus Margarita, Switcha/Lemonade

Fish Fry – Eat | Drink | Discover

The Fish Fry has been described as a microcosm of The Bahamas, which itself is made up of approximately 700 islands and cays.  The Fish Fry is made up of colorful wooden shacks, huts, and stalls in all shapes and sizes on the northern shore west of Bay Street.  It is a great place to get a taste a food and beverages from all the islands and to meet the locals.

The adventurous traveler knows that no two vacations should ever be exactly alike. Some people will prefer a tranquil stay by the ocean while others are eager to immerse themselves in the local culture. Fortunately, the options for dining in The Bahamas can accommodate both the footloose and formal vacationer.

While restaurants in The Bahamas can range from casual vendor stands to upscale bistros, the legendary island hospitality and delicious cuisine will always stand out.

Cultures in the Caribbean are like unique, homemade stews cooked from a mixture of influences. People from far-flung parts of the world who have endured hundreds of years of migration, slavery, exploration and colonization now happily call the Caribbean home. Many such experiences have guided the history and culture of the people of The Bahamas, creating a friendly and celebratory group of people who are proud of their cultural heritage. Today, this cultural heritage can be seen in the way we prepare our meals.

Heritage Village is the scene of the “fish fry”, a venue featuring plenty of down-home island cooking and local entertainment. It is where the locals go to eat fresh seafood that has just been captured from the waters offshore.

Heritage Village is one of the best places to knock back a Kalik beer, chat with the locals, or sample traditional Bahamian cuisine and cultural goodies in an informal atmosphere. The ambience is further enhanced by the scent of sea breeze and the cooing of the seagulls nearby.


A fish fry is a Bahamian version of a seafood festival, like a Bahamian backyard experience.

What began back in the 1960’s as a few ramshackle huts hastily constructed to serve quick meals to folks on their way to and from the old Bahamas Customs facility, is today a thriving Bahamian business community. Stalls now number close to forty and they are considerably better built.

The food continues to be as close to home-made as you can find.

Centrally located, 5 minutes west of the downtown shopping district and just north of the Hanes Oval Cricket Pitch and Adastra Gardens, Zoo and Conservation Center, the pastel colored clapboard style buildings are situated on an inlet overlooking the Nassau Harbour and Paradise Island, home of the Atlantis Resort. Fish and conch are the featured options and can be prepared in many ways.

For example, there is grilled conch, fried or cracked conch, conch chowder, conch fritters and the all-time favorite, conch salad. This is a spicy mixture of chopped conch mixed with diced onions, cucumbers, tomatoes, hot peppers in a lime and orange marinade. Just watching the expert chopping of the ingredients is a show as good as any in town. The choicest of the islands fish, grouper or snapper, are served fried, steamed or grilled.

Meals are typically served with peas and rice, French fries, potato salad, Cole slaw, Bahamian macaroni and cheese and fried plantains. For dessert there is guava duff, a local favorite and a Bahamian delight. Guava Duff is a steamed pudding made from dough with guava slices jelly rolled, wrapped in cloth and steamed for several hours to give a light, fluffy texture. The finishing touch is a sauce made from the strained guava pulp and flavored to taste with rum, vanilla or confectionary sugar. The guava fruit is available year-round but is most plentiful during the summer months. ; These meals may be prepared for dining in or take out.

To wash it all down, try our locally brewed beer, Kalik named after the sound of Junkanoo cowbells or Sky Juice, a potent gin and coconut water concoction with condensed milk added as flavoring.

The site has a Police Station, a story telling porch and a rock-oven commonly used on the Family Islands for baking. There is a village green where festivals, cultural events and concerts are held.

A Junkanoo “rush-out” is held during the month of June, the purpose of which is to give visitors who are unable to attend during the Christmas and New Year’s celebrations a taste of what the parade is like.

Behind the village is a cay, an artificial island, which was built from sand dredged from the Nassau Harbor. This cay is called Arawak Cay however, the locals have taken to calling the Fish Fry at Heritage Village, Arawak Cay.

While the fish fry is a hot spot, for most tourists and natives alike, one would not be able to find a full compliment of Bahamian cuisine there.  Several native restaurants over-the-hill, on the outskirts of the city of Nassau and in the Adelaide Village are options and would be well worth the further inland trek.


Under Da’ Bridge

You keep getting this feeling that you can’t quite define. You’ve been on vacation in Nassau/Paradise Island for the past three or four days. You’ve been having nothing short of a great time! Wonderful beaches, excellent duty-free shopping, unforgettable water sports, casinos and night life, you’ve sampled it all. But there’s still this lingering feeling that you’ve missed out on something. Your sixth sense is always right! There is an experience —a truly authentically Bahamian experience — that has eluded you until now.

Tucked away, under a bridge, in the shadow of the towers of world-famous Paradise Island Atlantis Resort is Potter’s Cay. Potter’s Cay is a place you could easily bypass. Several yards east of the first bridge to Paradise Island, on East Bay Street, just before the second bridge, the sign on the far left, “To Potter’s Cay” ushers you into a hub of activity that will surprise you by its contrast to what you’ve seen thus far of Nassau/Paradise Island.

The half square mile area under the foot of the bridge for traffic exiting Paradise Island is the world of Potter’s Cay. This is where Bahamians come to buy seafood from the day’s catch or to select the freshest in produce from stalls piled high with fruits and vegetables of every color and description. On the eastern waterfront of this marketplace, mail boats disgorge a steady stream of passengers and freight from the far-flung islands of the Bahamian archipelago. Potter’s Cay is a beehive of activity, but it is mostly a place to hang out and enjoy good, down home Bahamian food.

The aromas that greet you as you enter Potter’s Cay signal that you’re in for a culinary treat. Lining the western waterfront is a row of about twenty wooden food and fish stalls. Stalls vary in size; from small take-away stands operated by a sole vendor to outfits with interiors large enough for a kitchen serving a full course menu.

At the stalls of Potter’s Cay, fresh seafood is king. Conch, the Bahamian mollusk, is served in all its variations. Cut in strips and seasoned with salt, red pepper and lime juice as Scorched Conch. Diced and mixed in with onions, sweet pepper and celery and drenched in lime juice as Conch Salad. Pounded, lathered in egg & flour mix and deep fried as Cracked Conch. Mixed in spicy herbed batter, and deep fried in balls, Conch Fritters. There’s grilled conch, steamed conch and conch chowder. Fish and lobster – fried, steamed or grilled – are two other seafood items big on the Potter’s Cay menu. The choice of side orders includes hearty servings of savoury peas & rice, macaroni & cheese, fried plantains, Cole slaw, lettuce & tomatoes or Bahamian bread called Johnny cake.

At Potter’s Cay, there’s take-away, but to really savour the ambiance of this sea-side food village, you need to take a seat. Along the concrete sidewalk that stretches the entire length of the row of shacks, every few paces, there are clusters of tables and chairs. Nothing fancy. A wooden or plastic table with seating for four or six, in the warm sunshine refreshed with light breezes wafting in from the surrounding sea.

Visitors to Potter’s Cay will not be impressed by any physical installation. The wooden construction of most stalls is rudimentary. The facades of many are freshly painted and tiled. Some are roughly hewn, but all are clean and presentable. But very quickly, what becomes more noticeable is the atmosphere of the place. There’s the sunshine, conviviality, good food and a palpable sense of pride exhibited by the food vendors who are all proprietors of their operations. You sense this same pride in the way the food vendor prepares your order. After a few minutes, you begin to feel like an appreciated guest at the table of a good friend.

A stroll along the sidewalk takes you pass an eclectic variety of stalls. Interspersed among the row of stalls serving cooked food are several stands selling fresh fish.

Fresh fish stalls make for an interesting site and contribute to the general “outdoor” market feel of Potter’s Cay, but the food stalls are most memorable.

Once the meal is finished, patrons to the tables of Potter’s Cay need not hurry away. Take some time to walk off a few calories. Just across from the row of food stalls are other sights and sounds that complete the Potter’s Cay experience. Friendly female vendors sit placidly in front of fruit and produce stalls teeming with bananas, plantains, pumpkins, papaya, red peppers, tomatoes, cassava, yam, eddoes. In front of many stalls are cages of swarming black crabs, a popular ingredient in stews, soups and rice. A baked or stuffed crab is another tasty treat of the island.  Fishermen in rubber work boots hoist giant bags of fresh fish from the well of fishing smacks anchored dockside. A crowd of local customers close in on a crew of fishermen scaling and cleaning the catch of the day.

Farther along the eastern edge of Potter’s Cay, mail boats identified as the Lady Frances, the Captain Moxey, the Nadine and the Current Express take on freight for islands with quaint sounding names like Eleuthera, Andros, Cat Island and Long Island, a few of the many island destinations in the chain of Bahamian islands that beckon for a visit, on your next trip to The Islands Of The Bahamas.


The Bahamian Breakfast

The Bahamian Lunch

The foundation of any Bahamian lunch is the staple of peas n’ rice (peas and rice). Most cooks prefer to use Pigeon peas and sometimes substitute the peas for Kidney beans. Bahamians have added their own twist to the infamous peas n’ rice served throughout the Caribbean using their select choice of spices, tomatoes, onions and some indigenous special items.

Many Bahamian dishes can be traced to native African dishes. Although Pigeon peas and rice is native to Africa (known as the Congo Pea), the route of the Pigeon pea to The Bahamas can be traced by way of the American Colonies. After the Revolutionary War, many British loyalists fled from the colonies choosing to start anew as plantation owners in The Bahamas. Most of them brought their slaves, of mostly African descent, and these slaves brought their African staples with them to America and then to The Bahamas. Here in The Bahamas, the Pigeon pea was readily cultivated and became a mainstay of the local diet. It is also used to make peas and grits which is prepared just like peas and rice, only substituting the rice with grits.

Another such rice specialty is crab and rice. When crabs are in season, which is during the rainy months of April, May and June, you would find this dish being served in almost all the native restaurants and homes. Bahamians even carefully preserve and store some of the crabs to save for preparation for special occasions and family functions like a birthday parties and Christmas and New Year’s Day dinners. Some crab dishes include crab soup, crab and grits, stuffed or baked crab and boiled crab and dough.

A typical Bahamian meal consists of crab and rice and delicious steamed fish, served with several sides. Options for sides include baked macaroni and cheese, potato salad, Cole slaw, plantains, beets or corn. There is usually a choice of two per meal.

Besides steamed fish, other popular Bahamian dishes would include the following soups: split peas, okra, bean and dumpling soup. The more popular Bahamian style steamed meats are turtle, chicken, pork chop, ham and mutton. Curried chicken and mutton, fried chicken, fish and grouper fingers. Meals are generally followed by desserts which vary from a native dessert called guava duff to cheesecake. Other Bahamian choice pastries are bread pudding, potato bread and coconut and pineapple tarts. Such typical meals also explain why there are so many Bahama Mama’s.

Fruits native to the region

  • Sapodilla – Dilly
  • Tamarind
  • Mango
  • Guinep
  • Mamisaporta
  • Avocado
  • Guava
  • Sour Sop
  • Breadfruit
  • Sea Grape
  • Papaya
  • Sugar Apple
  • Coconut

Fire Engine – Corned Beef and White Rice

Among our favourite Bahamian soul foods is a dish called Fire Engine. Perhaps more widely recognized as Steamed Corned Beef, this traditional breakfast is an absolute staple in the diets and culture of The Bahamian people. Canned corned beef sauteed with a medley of diced veggies and served alongside generous portions of buttery grits or rice is a dish designed to keep you satisfied from your first delicious bite to your next meal. Join us in [eating and] discovering why Fire Engine is so popular among locals…

What Is Fire Engine?

This salty, spicy, savoury comfort food (or local hangover cure) is typically served at breakfast but like any good staple can also be enjoyed for any meal of the day. Keeping costs low and energy high, the bread-basket, shelf-stable items that make up the core ingredients of the dish include: corned beef, tomato paste, corn kernels, seasonings, and grits or rice. Other ingredients of Fire Engine can be locally harvested or are easily accessible in the food markets, ie: onion, sweet pepper, celery, and tomatoes. Notably, a Fire Engine meal costs little to produce and keeps your belly warm and satisfied for a good while or at least until you’re ready to devour a second helping.

Origins of The Dish

Most interestingly, the name ‘Fire Engine’ has ambiguous origins. Like any good mystery, the more people you ask the more mislead you feel. We’ve narrowed our findings down to two of the most popular explanations you’ll encounter on the island:

  1. A commonly cited theory is that Bahamian cooks add so much local, goat pepper to the dish that it feels like your mouth is on fire. And (ever so dramatically) you’d require the emergency assistance of a fire brigade to squelch the flames.
  2. Another explanation you might hear signals the rich red tomatoey sauce of the steamed corned beef once prepared which contrasts the white grits or rice that the cook chooses as the starchy foundation of their version. Along with the optional bright yellow corn kernels thrown in for sweetness, the final result of this recipe resembles the aesthetics of a fire truck.

If seeing is believing, then we believe, tasting is understanding. We hope you’ll give this one a try on your next trip and decipher for yourself which explanation for its name you subscribe to.

Where to find Fire Engine?

Your best bet for a truly Bahamian, authentic culinary experience would be to set out early and investigate roadside food carts or stalls. You’d be hard-pressed to find an offer for a $0.99 breakfast these days, as traditional breakfasts typically range from $1.50-$2.00 per order- but look out for those 99₡ Breakfast signs to guide you, nonetheless. Another local tip is to keep your eyes peeled and your nose downwind from your nearest construction site as these mobile food trucks tend to follow the workers, offering some of the most flavourful and reasonably priced sustenance around. If this hunting and gathering method seems a little too adventurous for you, you’ll still find that most local joints will have Fire Engine on their breakfast menu as a  fortifying morning staple.

Where to find some of the best Fire Engine breakfasts in Nassau:

 

Conch – The most popular food in The Bahamas

Conch can be prepared in 25 different ways.  Some popular options are conch fritters, conch salad, conch chowder, stewed conch, scorched conch and cracked conch (fried).

Conch Facts

  • The “queen” conch is a large edible sea snail, a type of marine mollusk.
  • Conchs are native to the coasts of the Caribbean, the Florida Keys, the Bahamas, and Bermuda.
  • Conchs are herbivores – they eat algae and other tiny marine plants.
  • The conch’s main predators include loggerhead turtles, nurse sharks, other snail species, blue crabs, eagle rays, spiny lobsters, and other crustaceans.
  • Male and female conchs copulate to reproduce. Mating aggregations can have hundreds or even thousands of individuals.
  • Female conchs lay hundreds of thousands of tiny eggs in a sandy egg mass. The larvae emerge after 5 days and may drift on ocean currents for up to a month before settling in suitable habitat on the sea floor.
  • During the first year of life, conchs live under the sand during the day and come out to feed on the surface of the sand at night.
  • It may take a queen conch at least 5 years to reach maturity. At this stage in life they have a very hard flared lip and can reproduce.
  • The queen conch lives an average of 7 years but are known to live as long as 20 – 30 years.
  • Conchs produce natural pearls that come in a range of hues, including white, brown, orange and pink.
  • As conchs age, their shell becomes thicker.
  • Conch are listed under Appendix II in the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) which includes species that are not necessarily threatened with extinction, but may become so if trade is not tightly controlled.
  • It is illegal to take queen conchs in the state of Florida. Commercial and recreational fishing was banned in the 1980’s after conch populations became severely overfished.
  • 80% of legal internationally traded conch is consumed in the United States. The smuggling of conch meat into the U.S. is a significant challenge to conch management in The Bahamas.
  • Queen conch are vulnerable to overfishing because they are relatively slow to grow, late to mature, aggregate to mate, and are easily harvested in shallow waters.

dripping with ketchup! Yum.

A Local Bahamas Food Favorite: Conch

One of the best parts about vacationing in The Bahamas is all the yummy food you get to eat. From grilled mahi-mahi and crawfish ( lobster ) dinners to delicious coconut desserts and tropical fruit, you’ll love our island favorites. But out of all the tasty dishes available to you during your vacation in Nassau Paradise Island, there is one local delicacy that you really must try when you’re here.

Conch (pronounced “konk”) is the national food of The Bahamas and a true Bahamian specialty. Like calamari, conch meat is firm and white with a somewhat chewy texture. It can be eaten steamed or deep-fried, or served raw with citrus juices and fresh vegetables. While there are many kinds of conch around the world, queen conch is the most common type found and served in The Bahamas.

Here are four of our most popular conch dishes:

Conch Salad
Prepared fresh with chopped tomatoes, onions, green peppers, and lime and lemon juice, conch salad is an island favorite. This salad is great to enjoy as a light (but still filling) lunch before heading to the beach for the afternoon.

Conch Fritters
The best appetizer around town! These bite-sized balls are made with fresh conch that is mixed with finely diced peppers and onions, battered with flour, and then deep-fried. Conch fritters usually come with a side of hot sauce.

Cracked Conch
Cracked Conch is deep-fried conch served with fries (and sometimes rice), and a spicy dipping sauce. Although it looks a bit like deep-fried calamari, cracked conch has a lot more flavor—and is the perfect afternoon snack to go with a local Sands beer.

Bahamian Conch Chowder
Bahamian Conch Chowder is a tomato-based soup with conch.  In addition to conch, common ingredients include diced potatoes, onions, celery, carrot strips and parsley might occasionally be added primarily for color.

These are just a few ways conch is served at restaurants around The Bahamas. Other popular conch dishes include conch burgers and conch gumbo. You can’t say you’ve had true Bahamian fare until you’ve had conch—and there’s no shortage around the island, so eat as much as you want!

Have you tried conch? If so, which tasty dish did you try? Share your favorite photo of you eating local conch in and around Nassau Paradise Island with us on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram using the hashtag #

 

Bahamian Land Crabs

  • Land crabs are curious creatures: they burrow beneath the ground to keep cool in the belly of the moist earth. They try to avoid confrontation, but armed with two formidable claws, or biters as they are known in the Bahamas, they pack a mean punch.
  • During the summer months, the crabs of Andros and across the islands of The Bahamas are called to arms. Hungry hunters are on the prowl, craving Bahamian crab and rice, crab soup, crab and dough and the wide variety of crab-filled culinary delicacies, and they are taking no prisoners.
  • If you are new to the game of catching crabs, there are certain ground rules you should follow to maximize your take and of course stay safe.
  • Crabs are so abundant in the Bahamas that hunters can often pluck them off the road. As drivers move along the dark, moonlit streets in the Family Islands ( outer islands ), the beady eyes of crabs reflect into vehicles. As plentiful as their numbers may be, however, roadside crabs will not usually fill your satchel. For that you will need to venture into the bushes.
  • Long pants and shirts with long sleeves, black or camouflage, are best to protect against mosquitos, poison ivy bush and thorny underbrush. Protective head and neck gear for the mosquitoes, as well as comfortable shoes or boots for the hike, which can often take you deep into the interior. If you are skirmish when it comes to crab biters, you might want to wear a pair of gardening or other protective gloves.
  • Hunting at night tends to be best, because crabs stir from within their holes to feed and venture much farther from home than they would during the day.
  • They camouflage well with the underbrush, so have a keen ear attuned to the sound of ruffling leaves, and a sharp eye on the lookout for pairs of beady eyes. And be sure to watch for crab holes.
  • Catching crab the Bahamian way requires an advance from the rear. The goal is to hook your fingers across the back of the crab. From this vantage point, the crab’s biters are of no threat. They are not ambidextrous creatures, so have no fear; they cannot reach back to pinch you.
  • True crab hunters will even go for crabs that are backed up in their holes. This requires a direct attack, and gloved hands are often too big to fit. The trick: Try to identify where they are turned and get your hands around the back. If this does not work – if you get pinched, in other words – true crab hunters don’t stop; they just try again, from another angle.

 

Junkanoo – What is it?

What is Junkanoo?

Junkanoo, a Bahamian national festival, is a kaleidoscope of colors and sound.  The rhythmic sounds of cowbells, goat skin drums and whistles, accompanied by an array of brass instruments, create a sweet musical beat that will move you; while brilliantly coloured costumes capture your eye, and bring much visual delight.  This bi-annual cultural highlight takes place on Bay Street in New Providence and other Family Islands during the early morning hours, from 1:00a.m. – 9:00a.m. on Boxing Day (the day after Christmas) and New Year’s Morning.  Junkanoo can also be experienced on many celebrated occasions such as Independence Day (July 10th).  There is also a Junior Junkanoo Parade in December, held in New Providence.

What is its Origin?

The true origin of Junkanoo is unknown.  However, its roots can be traced back to West Africa.  The most popular legend states that the name originated from John Canoe, an African tribal chief who demanded the right to celebrate with his people even after being brought to the West Indies in slavery,  During pre -and post -slavery days, Christmas was the greatest time for celebration in the Bahamas, and Junkanoo was the highlight.  This remains today.

In the past, Junkanoo was a spontaneous event, and less commercialized.  The original Junkanoo Parade consisted of simple costumes of cloth, fringed paper and facial painting.  There was also the use of sea sponges and other natural materials such as leaves on a type of netting worn over the body.  The basic instruments that were used remain the same.  However, some home-made instruments such as conch shell, horns and poinciana pods have been replaced by modern instruments.  Today, the addition of brass instruments creates the melody of the music.

The Original Junkanoo Costume

Junkanoo, named after the West African John Canoe Festival, originated in the Bahamas around the 17th century as a masquerade.  Slaves with their faces hidden under a flour paste, celebrated on Boxing Day and the day after Christmas.  Later, flour paste was replaced by wire masks held on a stick.  Junkanooers blew bugles and horns and beat on goatskin drums.  In the late 20’s, when sponging was big business in the Bahamas many Junkanooers covered themselves totally in sea sponges!  Our 1935 photo shows a Junkanoo in a fabric costume skirted with strips of rags: “he danced for ‘coppers’ to fill the money pouch hanging from his wrist.”

By the mid-thirties, the entire costume was fringed.  Prizes were awarded, and group participation began.  Soon, the costumes were fringed, not in cloth, by newspaper, then multi-coloured crepe paper.  By the way, it wasn’t until the sixties that women participated in Junkanoo!

Today, as a cultural expression, Junkanoo is highly revered.  From June or July on, participating groups such as the Valley Boys lead by Gus Cooper, The Saxons lead by Percy Viola Francis, and Roots, create elaborate costumes and floats from cardboard, wire, Styrofoam and papier Mache.  Starting at three in the morning on Boxing Day and New Year’s Day, revelers parade, or ‘rush’ on Bay Street in Nassau, and in some of the Family Islands.  Shrieking whistles, shaking cowbells and beating drums echo through the air.  When the ‘rushes’ end, at about 8:00am, prizes are awarded to groups with best costumes, music and theme portrayal.

Visitors who are here over the Christmas and New Year’s Day holiday period should be sure to watch this boisterous parade which represents an important aspect of Bahamian culture.  Others can catch a little Junkanoo during the summer at various Hotels, and winning floats from recent festivals can be seen at the Junkanoo Expo Museum on Prince George Wharf.  Open daily, admission is $2.00 for adults, 50 cents for children under 12 years.

What is Junkanoo Like Today?

The Junkanoo Parade, as we know it today, exists only in the Islands of The Bahamas, although it has been known to exist along the East Coast of the United States, and around the Carolinas.  It has developed from a street festival to a grand parade, equal to any of the Pan-African festivals that take place around the region such as Mardi Gras and Carnival.  Members of the community join organised Junkanoo groups, with names such as:  “The Valley Boys,” “Saxons,” “Roots,” and “One Family.”   The organised groups consist of  500-1000 members. Junkanoo Groups are divided into three categories (criteria for judging):  Musicians, Dancers and Costumers.  They vie for cash prizes, but more importantly, the prestigious title of Best Junkanoo Group.  After nearly a year of preparation and coordination of the closely guarded, themes, costume designs, musical compositions and choreographed dances, the competition is fierce among the groups.  There are also smaller less organized, by equally competitive groups referred to as “Scrap Groups.” Participants represent a broad cross-section of the community.  Anyone is invited to participate in Junkanoo, if he or she follows the rules of the National Junkanoo Association.  Visitors to the Islands of the Bahamas can decide through their hotel to join the festival.

This picturesque splendor is a creative depiction of fantasy and reality. Junkanoo themes are visual lessons of The Bahamas -past and present, satirical statements , and notable events.

Costuming is a tedious process that demands tremendous skill and creativity.  Costumes begin with a selection of a theme.  Designers then create patterns on cardboard, which is the base of the costumes.  Once the costumes’ structure is complete, hundreds of brilliantly coloured layers of fringed crepe paper are meticulously pasted on.  The fringe effect is what adds texture and dimension to these elaborate costumes.

What efforts are Being Made to Conserve Junkanoo?

Presently, there is a Junkanoo Museum located in Nassau which keeps   the winning   costumes on display.  The Junior Junkanoo programme is a step towards conserving our heritage, as it is passed on to the youth of the Bahamas.

Junkanoo is the Soul of Bahamian Culture and it is the only aspect of our Society that stands out as being truly Bahamian.  Junkanoo has developed into a unique art form and a style of its own and soon will become a world class festival.  Junkanoo is “the spirit of the Bahamas” and it is the main attraction of the Bahama Islands during the Yuletide festive seasons.  Our rhythmic sound of cowbells and our distinctive beat of the goat skin drum the kaleidoscope of creative costuming, the jumping and hoping dance step’s separates us from every other country.  No one really knows the true origin of Junkanoo.  Junkanoo is called by many names.  Some say John.

The Out Islands are the Real Bahamas

After experiencing New Providence, plan your getaway to The Bahamas Out Islands

Out Island/Family Island: The Family Islands have been known to generations of visitors as the Out Islands, situated “out” and away from the glitter of Nassau and Freeport.  They are beautiful, peaceful and secluded, where endless, nearly empty beaches are a trademark, and water sports a way of life.  There are no all-night discos or casinos, no international bazaars, and few to no gourmet restaurants.  There’s a collection of islands in The Bahamas that appeal to true connoisseurs of island life and unique vacation destinations.

These quiet islands are ideal for relaxing and reconnecting, for fantasy weddings and honeymoons, for the ultimate in fishing, diving and eco-travel vacations.  These are The Bahama Out Islands – and there’s one that’s perfect for you.  If you should have an interest in visiting an Out Island, please tell us and we will arrange an itinerary which is guaranteed to interest and entertain you.

Explore Our Islands

Imagine a world where you can’t tell where dreams begin and reality ends. This is The Bahamas. And it’s like no other place on Earth.

What Makes The Bahamas UNIQUE?

The Bahamas archipelago is an ecological oasis sprinkled over 100,000 square miles of ocean, starting just 50 miles off the coast of Florida. It comprises 700 breathtaking islands, over 2,000 rocks and cays, and boasts the clearest water on the planet—with a visibility of over 200 feet. You can see your toes as easily as you can the world’s third largest fringing barrier reef.

We invite you to explore all our islands. One step and you’ll realize our beauty extends far beyond our extraordinary natural wonders. It’s the smiles on the faces of the Bahamian people. The unique sounds of our rich culture. The warm hospitality of our heritage and our colorful history.

When travelers describe what they’re searching for in a Caribbean vacation – be it a romantic getaway, wedding or honeymoon, a trip just for the guys or the gals, or a family get-together — the same things always make the list: Great secluded beaches, beautiful blue water, a variety of exciting outdoor activities and a great hotel or resort where you can totally relax. On all counts, each one of The Bahamas’ Out Islands ranks among the best of all the Caribbean destinations. In fact, The Bahamas was named the top honeymoon spot in the world by internationally renowned travel site “Expedia.com”. Add to that the uniqueness of Bahamian culture, history and the welcoming laid-back friendliness of the people, and you’ve found the tropical island vacation you’ve been dreaming about.

More so than any other Caribbean islands, The Bahamas’ Out Islands are absolute beach-lovers and water-lovers paradises, offering an unparalleled collection of the region’s best beaches, best snorkeling and diving, and best fishing, kayaking, boating and sailing, bird-watching and ecotravel. They also offer a unique culture born of seafaring European adventurers and African heritage and traditions that combine to create the distinctly colorful and decidedly welcoming Bahamian way of life.

Bahamians also call the Out Islands the “Family Islands.” Though many of them may move to the bustling “big city” islands of New Providence (Nassau) and Grand Bahama (Freeport) to work at the glitzy casinos and high-rise hotels, they maintain family connections in the Out Islands and travel back as often as possible. It says a lot that these locals transplants head to the laid-back and friendly Out Islands to get away from the crowded high traffic cruise ship islands from where they live and work. Take the advice from these “experts”  and head to the Out Islands to one of the unique resorts and boutique hotels that dot the islands. You’ll enjoy smiling faces, friendly service and distinctively Bahamian hospitality.



For Your Entertainment – A Bahamian Treat

Rake-and-scrape is a genre of music native to the Bahamas. Its main instruments are associated with the Goombay drum, Accordion also known as a Concertina, and a Hand saw. It’s a Bahamian ting !

Bahamian Music as performed by various Bahamian Artists and Entertainers inclusive of The Royal Bahamas Police Force Band

 

Rakin’ and Scrapin’ – Stillet

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jhDZqX_usvI

 

We Jammin’ – Geno D.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B83oMwQdgrI

 

Party in the Backyard – The Brilanders

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wbyWHnXnPwE

 

Sweet Emily featuring Ronnie Butler

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gcoZjnyElYo

 

Elon Moxey – Oh My Andros

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e8IpGR2lpQY

 

Eddie Minnis – Naughty Johnny

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f-OTdCRRDqU

 

Eddie Minnis – Alcohol

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e2D9P-vtUPo

 

The Bahamas National Youth Choir – Celebrate

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=16DzX4jM1xc

 

The Bahamas National Youth Choir – Watermelon Spoilin’ on the Vine

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fg683d-swVQ

 

The Valley Boys – Brown Girl in the Ring

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3VP8REuKVzA

 

The Valley Boys – City of Gold

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5L_qAsjlA8U

 

The Royal Bahamas Police Force Band – Changing of The Guard

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oU-NJXeYAls

 

The Royal Bahamas Police Force Band – 13th Island Roots Heritage Festival – New Plymouth, Green Turtle Cay, Abaco

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VHZzDwBSek8

 

Ophie Webb Explains Bahamian Rake-n-Scrape

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mHWWHScr7Ok