Barbadian cuisine, also called Bajan cuisine, is a mixture of African, Portuguese, Indian, Irish, Creole and British influences. A typical meal consists of a main dish of meat or fish, normally marinated with a mixture of herbs and spices, hot side dishes, and one or more salads. The meal is usually served with one or more sauces.
The national dish of Barbados is cou-cou and fried flying fish with spicy gravy. Another traditional meal is pudding and souse, a dish of pickled pork with spiced sweet potatoes. A wide variety of seafood and meats are also available.
Barbadian National Dishes
Cou-cou, coo-coo (as it is known in the Windward Islands), or fungi (as it is known in the Leeward Islands and Dominica) makes up part of the national dishes of Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, British Virgin Islands and the U.S. Virgin Islands. It consists mainly of cornmeal (corn flour) and okra (ochroes). Cornmeal, which comes readily packaged and is available at supermarkets islandwide, and okra, which can be found at supermarkets, vegetable markets and home gardens, are very inexpensive ingredients. Because these main components are inexpensive, the dish became common for many residents in Barbados’ early colonial history. Cou-cou derives from the island’s African ancestry and was a regular meal for those slaves who were brought over from Africa to Barbados. In Ghana, a similar meal of fermented corn or maize flour eaten with okra stew and fish is known as banku, a favourite dish of the Ga tribe in Accra.
A unique cooking utensil called a “cou-cou stick”, or “fungi stick”, is used in its preparation. A cou-cou stick is made of wood, and has a long, flat rectangular shape like a 1-foot-long (30 cm) miniature cricket bat. It is believed by Barbadians to be essential in stirring the cou-cou, as the dish takes on a firm texture and the cou-cou stick makes it easier to stir in a large pot.
Flying fish prepared fried or steamed is a usual complement to cou-cou. Cou-cou and flying fish has become Barbados’ national dish. Corned beef, or just beef stew, is also a common accompaniment to cou-cou. Traditionally, cou-cou is served on Fridays at homes across Barbados and local food establishments. Cou-cou can also be prepared using breadfruit instead of cornmeal.
In Trinidad and Tobago cou-cou (or coo-coo) is often prepared alongside callaloo and either stewed or fried fish.
In some islands, e.g. Barbados, Antigua, or the Virgin Islands, cou-cou may be cooked without okra, and goes by the name fengi, fungie, or fungi.