When it comes to food in Barbados, seasoning is basic.
Food is fun. And it must be appealing to our palate. That is why anything that enhances the flavour has always interested the cooks in our families and communities.
What we know of Barbados and its history helps us to understand its food culture.
For example the influence of earlier settlers, or the heretofore indigenous cuisine; and the ensuing cultivation or inclusion of newer foodstuff and ways of preparing various dishes, that affect how recipes evolved.
The cultural dynamic of a country can be often represented in the culinary expression or exposition of its people. More so when that country is a small island.
So some ‘seasoning‘ basics should be the ingredients we Barbadians typically use when flavouring our food. Things like peppers, cinnamon, limes, and of course salt. Also herbs such as Rosemary, Mint, Thyme and Parsley; as well as Onions, Chives and Garlic .
Yet the real basic is what we call
Generally this is a concoction made of various ingredients blended, or rather mashed, together to create the soft silky paste with which we coat, line, marinate, or insert into, most meat and fish dishes.
If you have read my other post you know my idea of a recipe is not usual, but you still get the basic notion of how to cook.
Ingredients for a Bajan Seasoning:
Onions, Scotch Bonnet Peppers, fresh Lime juice, Thyme, Garlic, Basil, Vinegar, Salt, Chives, Black Pepper, Parsley, Marjoram, ground Cloves and Nutmeg.
Chop everything that can be chopped after washing, de-seeding, peeling etc. and toss them into a sturdy mortar. Then add the other ingredients (a few dashes, a couple pinches) gradually while you pound it all with the pestle. Taste test for saltiness and hotness, adjusting to preference if you can. 🙂
Continue until the contents become a mushy silky, probably eye watering, paste. It should be soft and a bit ‘juicy’. Cover and let sit awhile before you use.
For a large amount it is better to put the seasoning so concocted into an airtight jar or bottle, and let it seethe and sweat for a minimum of one week.
This concoction of Bajan Seasoning can last up to six months. It is after all a type of preserve.
Experiment with it.
Some optional ingredients are Mustard, Tumeric, and Worcestershire Sauce. Just choose your own and add a pinch of this, a dash of that, a bit of the other – and so on, until you have your own adaptation. Then use it to season meat, fish, or even soups and stews; and to give a bit of pep to your homemade stock?
Perhaps it is a Creole thing. From Arawak or Amerindian to British or Portuguese until present day influences, Barbadians love their food.
They love to cook and put on a good spread for any occasion. And the origins of their food choices and culinary expertise underlies their willingness to experiment, learn and grow, while at the same time keeping true to their traditional roots.