Join twowildtides on the country challenge. Each week, we’re going to be heading to a new country (in spirit). Primarily, we’ll be cooking a meal from each country; but we’ll also be watching travel documentaries, reading travel blogs, and listening to music. During the global pandemic, travel is largely inaccessible. We want to reignite our wanderlust, satisfy our travel bug as much as we can, and learn some new things along the way. I have a feeling our bucket list will have a number of items added to it through this experience as well. We created a simple alphabetical spreadsheet with all the countries of the world, and each week we will draw a random number that corresponds with a country on the spreadsheet.
This week we stick around in the sunny Caribbean and island-hop to the Bahamas. I was in Nassau, the capital city of the Bahamas, a few years ago when it was a port of call on a family cruise. We only had a day there and we spent it at Atlantis Paradise Island, enjoying lazy rivers and wave pools and a waterslide that plunges into a shark tank. The Bahamas is one of the wealthiest countries in the Americas, with a huge tourism economy but also in offshore oil. Check out my visual diary of Nassau, Bahamas (mixed in with a few other island nations):
Sometimes it has been hard to find dishes from smaller countries, especially ones that feature ingredients we can find locally. This was not the case for the Bahamas! I had lots to choose from and while I did have to make some ingredient swaps, we were able to enjoy a full meal complete with a main dish, dessert, and cocktail.
Crack Conch, Peas & Rice (or Pigeon Peas), and Guava Duff are on just about every list about Bahamian cuisine that I could find: this list by TasteAtlas, this one by Princess Cruises, this one by Sandals, this one by Travel Triangle, this one by Trip101, and this post by Taste of the Bahamas. There were a few posts that featured all of these dishes plus a signature cocktail, Sky Juice: this list by Chef’s Pencil and this article by Nassau Paradise Island.
For our main dish, Crack Conch and Pigeon Peas, we followed this recipe by NationalFoods.org:
The Pigeon Peas were very easy to prepare once we got the prep work done. For the Crack Conch, because we don’t have access to conch in Northern Alberta we improvised with canned crabmeat and canned salmon. Our main dish turned out really tasty! The Crack Conch (Crack Crab? Crack Salmon?) was super comforting and really satisfies the deep-fried craving. We used coconut oil for frying which really amped up the Caribbean flare. I whipped up some seafood sauce for added flavour as well. The Pigeon Peas were hearty and flavourful. We would absolutely have this dish again– while we were frying the ‘Crack Seafood’ we found ourselves asking why we don’t do at-home deep-fried dishes more often.
We followed this Sky Juice recipe from Tru Bahamian Food Tours, which is a locally food tour company in Nassau:
I made a pitcher of Sky Juice for us to enjoy with our meal, however, we found that while Sky Juice is super tasty, a sweet, boozy cocktail is not the same when you’re not flaked out in the sun. It didn’t compliment our meal and I think rum, or even coconut rum, would have been tastier than gin. While our Sky Juice certainly won’t go to waste in our house, it won’t become a staple cocktail either.
Finally, we finished off our Bahamian feast with Guava Duff. I followed this recipe from Bahamasnet.com. This is where the improvising really kicked into high gear. You’ll occasionally find guavas in rural Canadian grocery stores, but not always. In fact, the only guava product my store was carrying was guava nectar– but I knew I could make it work for some yummy duff. The night before our meal, I made guava jelly by combining the guava nectar with pectin. It worked like a charm! I’m glad we have extra jelly because it would be so delicious on toast, in oatmeal, or on ice cream. We made our dough and rolled in the jelly but soon realized we couldn’t boil the duff as is the traditional practice because we didn’t have a linen cloth or pudding bag that would be suitable. Bummer. So instead, we baked our duff in the oven on 350 for about 30 minutes. With the rum sauce, it was absolutely scrumptious!! Incredibly sweet, doughy, fruity, and comforting. I loved it. I think it is my favourite dessert of the country challenge so far.
Overall, our Bahamian feast was a success. Stay tuned for next week when we make our way to the Middle East.