Authentic Tastes of History - Barbados Today

Authentic Tastes of History

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I was privileged to visit Charleston, South Carolina where I experienced that historic Barbados/Carolina connection.    

One evening, having been invited out to dine, I was taken to a restaurant simply called – F.I.G. Being of an enquiring mind, I promptly asked the waiter serving my table whether there was any significance in the name and what the letters represented. I was simply told “Food Is Good” . . . and the food was good. 

Back home, the same may be said for traditional establishments like Mustor’s on McGregor Street; for Enid’s, Pink Star and Johno’s on Baxter’s Road, Colucci’s in nearby New Orleans; for the Flying Fish Club at the top of Broad Street and for Gwen Workman’s shop on Nelson Street. All in Bridgetown! 

Of the eating places in central Bridgetown, Mustor’s still operates, catering to all strata of society.  Visitors and locals alike may enjoy generous servings of traditional Bajan dishes; rice and stew, fried pork chops or chicken, cou cou and saltfish, peas and rice with stew and salt fish cakes. They offer all the best in Bajan cuisine during the day as has been customary from the sixties.

Between sunset and sunrise Baxter’s Road and Nelson Street come alive. After midnight, Baxter’s Road was and still is well known for its fish fried on coal pots in iron frying pans or buck pots filled with hot bubbling oil. 

Back then, patrons lined the sidewalk with the smoke from the coal pots swirling around their heads, while waiting for their particular delicacy. At Enid’s fried chicken legs, wings and ribs were the order of the day. Eating in back rooms surrounded by men and women of all descriptions with patrons sometimes dancing to the only music available, that of the jukebox.

Moving onto the other side of town and into Nelson Street, Gwen Workman’s Shop was a must –for the best pork or liver cutter topped off with a ‘lead pipe’ and a cold drink, preferably alcoholic. The atmosphere was eclectic and full of foreign accents; trade of all sorts being conducted. Today, the same delicacies may be found but will cost you just a bit more. The street never slept. The first rays of the sun would find some diehards stumbling out of the doorways to make their weary way home!

Coucou and flying fish: Serving as Barbados’ national dish, the cou cou is made of cornmeal (corn flour) and okras. You’ll sometimes find it served with delicious fried plantains. 

Fishcakes: Fishcakes are found across the Caribbean but the recipe’s vary. Barbadians make their fishcakes with saltfish (salted cod), flour, baking powder and various fresh herbs. They may be served with a sauce or eaten between a salt bread which is referred to as a bread and two. Find at Mustors on McGregor Street.

This story was originally published in Bridgetown & its Garrison (Map + City Guide)

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