Post # 239 Travel Update: Barbados!

April 11, 2014 at 5:08 PM | Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Post # 239 Travel Update: Barbados!

It’s been a long time since I’ve devoted a post to the food from a single place and for some reason, I got to thinking about my first trip to Barbados.  It was the first trip I took for the State Dept. and I didn’t know nothing from nothing.  Not only did I not coordinate with the Trip Manager, I set my schedule so I arrived several days late and returned before the trip was over.  I didn’t know up from down in getting my passport, visa, or trip itinerary.  I was calmly sitting at my desk on Tuesday when I got an irate call from the trip manager (who is know a close and dear friend) asking in polite language just where the hell I was?  Since she had called me at my desk, I felt it reasonable to assume she knew where I was so I just asked, “What’s the problem?”  After ten minutes of heated instruction, I offered to change my plans but she insisted since they were already made to leave them as is.  I think she just didn’t want to deal with any longer than she needed to.  I even made my hotel reservations wrong.

But the thing about that trip that I recall the most was the food.  It was my first trip out of the country.  I was looking forward to meeting new people, enjoying a new culture, and learning all kinds of things.  So the day I arrived, I met the trip manager for the first time, and immediately apologized, profusely.  She took me to dinner and suggested what I should eat.

Flying Fish Almandine!  Fresh fish, harvested probably minutes before, sautéed in butter with toasted slivered almonds.  Green beans and potatoes on the side.  It wasn’t a large fish, but after I’d eaten the whole thing, I was no longer hungry.  It was a great tasting and plentiful.  I was told flying fish in various ways was the national dish.  Makes sense considering it’s an island off the border of Venezuela.  Seafood is what they do.  I like seafood; I like fish; I liked the food I ate in Barbados.

grilled-flying-fish

They have a wonderful breakfast roll.  They called it simply a sweet roll.  It was pastry dough spread with brown sugar, nuts, coconut, cinnamon and some other goodies then rolled up.  They were baked and sprinkled with more sugar.  They were about the size of an egg roll and crispy and good.  I found a small roadside stand across the street from where I was working that sold them four for a dollar.  I ate them every morning, they were so good.  My last day there, I mentioned to one of the staff I was working with how much I had enjoyed them.  He asked where I was getting them then told me that I hadn’t had good sweet rolls yet.  He disappeared, and about a half hour later brought me a dozen freshly made from his home that his wife had made about an hour before.  They were the difference between night and day.  Ever have a home grown tomato right next to a store bought tomato?  It was like that.  Of course, there were way too many for me to eat by myself, so I set them in the break room for everyone to enjoy.  They were gone in thirty minutes.

Fresh fruit on the island ran to the Caribbean varieties.  There were loads of bananas, coconuts, mangoes, etc.  Once a week, a seller would come by selling fruit, and whenever he had grapes, I’d buy a couple of pounds.  Grapes were expensive on the island then because they’d just been introduced and the crops were not well established.  The local staff loved grapes, but they were mostly out of their price range.  I’d leave all the grapes in break room for everyone to eat.  They sure appreciated it.

There were several fast food places around the area we were working at and we’d head to one of them pretty often.  Initially, I ate fried chicken and fries, or cheeseburgers and fries.  They were all cooked fresh and fast and tasted wonderful.  After a few days, I tried something new (to me).  Although the fried chicken was exemplary, this new sandwich was a wrap full of potatoes, vegetables, meat, and curry sauce.  It was so GOOD!!  There were several ways you could have them made.  One was chicken with bones; one was chicken without bones; one was beef; one was pork; and the final was vegetable only.  They were spicy, juicy, drippy, and delicious.  It was basically a curry stew in a gigantic flour tortilla with lots of potatoes.

roti

In Barbados, I was introduced to the hottest sauce I’ve tasted in my life.  I was sitting in the break room at lunch.  We had ordered chicken skewers and rice.  I saw a few other people sloshing this yellow stuff on their rice so I reached for it.  Three different hands reached out to stop me, including one of my own coworkers.  Unless I had tasted it before, I shouldn’t put any on my food.  At all.  In any way, shape, or form.  Gingerly, I dabbed my pinkie finger onto the edge of the bottle and got the lightest smear of yellow.  I gently placed it on the tip of my tongue and almost immediately regretted it.  Sweat and tears poured off my head for several minutes as I coughed and choked and tried to eliminate the burning sensation from my mouth.  It was and is the hottest thing I’ve ever had.  Really.  It’s so hot you can leave a jar open on the table of months and nothing will grow in it.  Everyone there eats it like mustard.

bajan hot sauce

Every Thursday evening, on all my trips to Barbados, were spent at the Fish Place.  It was a large, open air restaurant where fresh fish of every type available were grilled to crispy perfection.  You wandered around until you found the type you wanted and paid the seller for a plate full of rice or potatoes, salad, and a huge piece of freshly grilled fish.  A bottle of water or soda or whatever was an extra dollar.  It was a gathering place for the locals to have a good time, say HI to each other, play dominoes (there was a league and fierce players), have a meal, and a good time.  We felt like locals while we were there and had just as good a time.  Good food and good company, can’t be beat!

Enjoy!

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