Nestled in the Northern Atlantic about 600 miles southeast of North Carolina lies one of the oldest remaining bastions of British colonial rule: charming and picturesque Bermuda. You'll be lured by the crystalline waters, breathtaking blush-pink sandy beaches and Bermuda recipes that evoke its colonial past.
Despite driving on the left-hand side and belting out "God Save the Queen" at official functions, this group of islands is self-governing (though they're officially a British Overseas Territory). With it being said that you are never more than a mile from the beach when visiting the Bermuda islands, it is no wonder his archipelago’s most famous dishes are seafood focused.
Considered to be the most popular Bermudian foods that the island is known for cooking, here are five traditional Bermuda recipes that are must-tries for any vacation traveler.
In visiting Bermuda, an island paradise surrounded by water, it may come as little surprise that fish (including; tuna, wahoo, mahi mahi, rockfish, and lobster) play a major role in the Bermudian diet. However, thanks to its varied colonial past, cuisine in Bermuda is influenced by a unique blend of Caribbean, British, West African, and Portuguese cooking styles.
Take, for instance, cod and potatoes, a Sunday morning breakfast staple that tips its hat to classic Portuguese flavors. Featuring steamed salt cod and boiled potatoes, the locals add a Caribbean twist via the addition of sliced bananas, avocado and onions. Onions are actually so ingrained into the core of Bermudian life that the islands were known as the Onion Patch, thanks also to the early success of sweet Bermudian onions in markets around the world.
If you're looking for a prime venue to indulge in this iconic breakfast, look no further than Paraquet Cafe near Elbow Beach, a restaurant that garnered the "Best of Bermuda" award for this very dish. Once you're fully satiated, you can walk it off on one of the many hiking trails on the island, squeeze in a few holes of golf or, for the less actively inclined, soak in a few rays on the splendid beaches.
Once home, you can give your tastebuds a reminder of your great vacation by cooking up the very same recipe, soaking the boneless salted cod overnight and then boiling it with potatoes. Finish by adding some fried onions and stewed tomatoes.
If there's one absolutely mandatory eating experience in Bermuda, many would agree it's trying the Bermudian fish chowder, which is a kind of gumbo made with a variety of fish, potatoes, tomatoes, sherry peppers and Black Seal rum for some added oomph!
Sherry peppers are themselves an interesting British Bermudian specialty and harken back to the days of sailor's rations in the 17th century. Peppers would be added to casks of rum and the resulting "seasoning" would help mask the less savory flavors of the food. Happily, today sherry peppers are flavor enhancers instead, and the Outerbridge's brand has been the market leader for almost 60 years. You can experience the chowder all over the island, and the Lobster Pot And Boat House in the island capital of Hamilton is a particular favorite.
Looking for something a little more casual, perhaps to munch on the beach as you watch the waves roll in? Let us introduce you to the fried fish sandwich, a Bermudian classic and a sandwich like no other. Yes, it features fillets of battered and golden-fried fish (mahi mahi, wahoo, or snapper, for example) as well as tartar sauce. Delicious? Undoubtedly.
Where the Bermudian version comes into its own is that it's not only is it piled high with lettuce or coleslaw, tartar sauce, onions and tomatoes; it's sandwiched between two slices of raisin bread. There are a number of delicious versions across the island, but ask any local within an hour's drive of Hamilton, and they'll send you to the out-of-the-way Art Mel's Spicy Dicy, to which devoted fans frequently make a pilgrimage.
If you're looking for a great dessert to finish your meal, there's no shortage of options. From anything and everything to do with locally-grown bananas (fritters and ice cream, anyone?) to the syllabub, a creamy, layered British dessert hailing from five centuries ago, a sweet ending is never far away.
For those looking for the ultimate classic, the champion would have to be the Bermudian rum cake. It's spongy and boozily moist, thanks to a healthy soaking of local rum. Though its origins are a bit murky, it's thought to have evolved from sailors dunking their biscuits into cups of rum in order to soften them (and no doubt add some flavor).
Rum cake shops abound, and with the closing of much-loved Horton's, a new favorite is the cakes baked up by the Bermuda Rum Cake Company. A number of flavors are available, including swizzle (zesty apricot, cherry, lemon and pineapple), chocolate and traditional. They're made to take home (if you can hold off eating them till you get there), but if you get hit by another craving once you're away from the island, you'll be happy to know that they do ship their cakes across the globe.
While an evening snifter or cocktail does not necessarily mean food it can mean rum. More specifically, Gosling's Black Seal Rum. The Gosling story began over 200 years ago when the son of an English wine merchant set sail for America and had to pull into the closest port (Bermuda) when their charter ran out. It took them almost half a century to master their particular blend, and ever since the Gosling product has been a central theme in Bermudian foods, from the fish chowder bowl to the cocktail glass.
The range of rum and rum-products has expanded, and even includes a ready-to-drink Dark and Stormy, a longtime island favorite. Its deliciousness lies in its simplicity — you just mix Gosling's with ginger beer at about a 1:2 ratio and squeeze in some lime juice. Pack some extra Dark and Stormy so that when you get home, you can sip it as you sit back and think of Bermudian breezes.
You may never be mistaken for a famous Bermudan chef or confuse your front lawn with a languorous stretch of pink sand, but you can recapture the spirit of the island's flavors with just a handful of ingredients and a little sense of adventure. Try one of these favorite Bermuda foods on your own even after your island cruise travels to be able to close your eyes and recapture a bit of that vacation magic!
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