The national dish of Barbados is cou-cou and flying fish. Cou-cou is made out of cornmeal and okra. It can be served with any type of fish, vegetables, rice or pasta. Flying fish, which are plentiful in the waters around Barbados, are silvery blue and 18 to 22 cm long. They leap from the water and can glide through the air for up to 23 metres.

Bajans enjoy a variety of meats and poultry, but their favourite meat is pork. They also eat a wide variety of fish, including kingfish, snapper, tuna, shark and barracuda. Foods grown on the island include yams, sweet potatoes, eddoes, sweet cassavas, breadfruits, pumpkins, avocados and plantains. Fruits include bananas, mangoes, soursop, sea grapes, dunks, guavas, Bajan cherries, limes, oranges, tamarinds, sugar apples, sapodillas, pawpaws and mammee apples.

Bajans use a special kind of seasoning, which is made of onion, parsley, green shallot, marjoram, thyme, garlic, clove, black pepper, white pepper, Scotch bonnet pepper, lime juice and salt. Like people in other Caribbean islands, Bajans make and use their own version of hot pepper sauce, with Scotch bonnet peppers, fresh turmeric, shallots, dry English mustard, onions and vinegar.

Sunday lunch is usually a big meal, with most family members present. Families often serve pork or chicken with peas and rice. On Saturdays, it is traditional to eat "pudding and souse." The "pudding" is a spicy dish made with sweet potato. "Souse" is made from the pigs' head, feet and tail. It is boiled and served with an onion, cucumber, herb and pepper sauce. Fish cakes made with salted cod or pepperpot (a spicy stew made with a variety of meats) may be served. Another favourite dish is conkies, a mixture of cornmeal, coconut, sweet potatoes, raisins, pumpkin, sugar and spices steamed on a banana leaf.

   Did you know?
The rich fruitcake or pudding served at Christmastime or at weddings is laced with several kinds of rum. Fruits may be soaked in the rum for several months before baking. These cakes have a very long shelf life, because the alcohol acts as a preservative.
The delicious yellow sugar produced in Barbados is used to make preserves such as guava jelly, orange marmalade and green mango chutney, and treats such as guava cheese, tamarind balls, coconut sugar cake and fudge. Many desserts are Bajan versions of English recipes such as bread and butter pudding, lime meringue pie, pineapple upside-down cake and jam puffs.

   Fried Flying Fish

6 boned flying fish (or any filleted white fish)
Juice of one lime
1 onion, chopped
75 ml green onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 hot pepper, chopped
1/2 tsp ground thyme
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
Oil for frying
Bread crumbs or flour


Wash fish and place in bowl. Combine lime juice, onion, green onions, garlic, hot pepper, thyme, cloves, salt and black pepper. Marinate fish in this mixture. Heat oil in saucepan, coat fish in breadcrumbs or flour and fry until brown or for 5 to 10 minutes. Serve with cou-cou, vegetables or rice.