This is leading off from the previous blog Rum Shops and Bajan Foods - Part I.  Some of the rum shops that I have been in offer the most amazing tasting food and this is the time to experiment and really explore the different tastes that local cuisine has to offer.
On Fridays you will find cou-cou and salt fish (salt fish creole style).  Cou-cou is a corn meal mash with okra that sticks to the ribs and the spicy salt fish comes swimming in a rich tasting gravy/broth.  The cou-cou takes a bit of work to ensure a smooth consistency (equate this with grits or polenta for example) and many kitchens have a cou-cou stick to stir it during the cooking process.  The cou-cou stick is like a thin wooden paddle and cou-cou is a labour of love integrating the boiled okra a little at a time over a low heat – it must be stirred almost constantly to prevent it sticking to the bottom of the saucepan.  The salt fish creole is simmered like a stew rich with onions, garlic, sweet peppers, tomatoes, marjoram and mustard.  To serve, you take some cou-cou and put it in a greased bowl and then invert the bowl onto a plate.  You then make an indentation on the top of the cou-cou and the salt fish creole is poured onto this indentation and the gravy/broth overflows down the sides.  Yummy creamy spicy goodness!
The salt fish is interchanged with rolled flying fish or a meaty piece of fish like dolphin or king fish or some other meat stew  – the principle remains the same – it must have a tasty sauce which the cou-cou ‘swims’ in.  It is often served with a side of pickled cucumber to cool off the heat from the spicy stew.  A firm Bajan favourite drink that can accompany this dish is Mauby – this is a drink which is made from the bark of the Mauby plant – truthfully I have never loved it but some Bajans swear by this icy cold bitter drink to quench your thirst on a hot day.  Personally, I would have an ice cold Banks beer with my rum shop meal!
So go on, when you are driving around the island do not hesitate to stop in one of the numerous rum shops and ask the proprietor what the special  is for that day. Other rum shop goodness comes from baked or fried chicken, macaroni pie, sweet potato pie, yam pie, rice and peas, beef stew, lamb necks and the list goes on and on.  One thing is for sure – it is not food for anyone on a skimpy diet!  When in Barbados leave the diet behind and sink your teeth into some Bajan goodness.  Surprisingly the Bajan diet is high in fibre from root vegetables like yam, eddoes, cassava, sweet potatoes and we have one of the highest longevity rates in the western hemisphere and the old timers will tell you it is the diet that has given them long life – that, and a dram of rum for medicinal purposes!
Be prepared to tantalise your tastebuds and embrace the moment!
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