DINING & ENTERTAINMENT GUIDE – NASSAU, CABLE BEACH, PARADISE ISLAND - JAN 2006 EDITION
Visitors can enjoy The Bahamas’ tropical paradise and learn how to prepare the Bahamian food at home that they enjoyed on their vacation. More than two dozen cookbooks reveal the secrets to preparing Bahamian food in Calgary, New York, Hamburg or wherever’s home.
According to Jan Roberts, owner of Logos bookstore, the most popular cookbooks with her customers are the to Shore series, by Capt Jan Robinson, and Gourmet Bahamian Cooking, by Marie Mendelson and Marguerite Sawyer.
Neil Sealey of Media Enterprises, agrees and adds, “It’s Cooking in The Bahamas is another popular one.”
Gourmet Bahamian Cooking was first published in 1979 and is now in its 46th printing. The book concentrates on traditional Bahamian dishes but includes some off-island recipes that have become local favourites. It offers no fewer than four versions of the Bahamian speciality Johnny cake (also known as journey cake), three different conch chowders and another 10 conch recipes.
In their introduction the authors write: “Many Bahamians who are excellent cooks neither use nor own a measuring cup, measuring spoon or scale. They cook by the ‘feel’ or ‘look’ of the preparation.” To convert traditional food preparations to written recipes, the women watched local cooks and then computed their “handfuls of this” and “bits of that” into recipes with measured amounts.
Capt Jan Robinson’s to Shore series totals four books. The last three are sequels to her popular first book, Ship to Shore: Tastes of the Caribbean. She developed 680 recipes emphasizing meals that could be prepared in a cramped ship’s galley. All recipes use easy-to-find ingredients and local foods – reflecting the lack of storage space on most pleasure boats. Slim to Shore: Recipes for a Healthier Lifestyle, follows the same on-board philosophy with an emphasis on healthy eating and cooking without fat or salt.
Sip to Shore: Cocktails & Hors d’oeuvres offers more than 200 recipes that Capt Jan, as she refers to herself, collected from chefs and captains in the Caribbean and The Bahamas. Her Sea to Shore: Caribbean Seafood Cookbook includes guides on how to buy seafood, how to clean your catch and how to serve the local marine bounty. The latest of her books, Bahama Mama’s Cooking, contains 140 “unique and authentic Bahamian recipes, including crab, lobster, papaya, plantain and other dishes using local ingredients.”
It’s Cooking in The Bahamas was and is a fundraising project for St Andrew’s School in Nassau. Newly revised and re-published, the expanded issue contains old favourites as well as new culinary gems. The new edition is a local favourite that would add a bit of the islands to any cookbook collection.
Others consider Many Tastes Of The Bahamas & Culinary Influences of the Caribbean to be the bible of Bahamian cooking. Written by Lady Darling, wife of Sir Clifford Darling, a former Governor General of The Bahamas, the book’s 400-plus pages are packed with recipes reflecting the range of Bahamian eating habits.
Two particularly helpful features stand out. A two-page section entitled “How To Use This Cookbook” offers alternatives to native ingredients and equipment. The section “Food Preparation” gives an insight to unfamiliar foods. It also suggests where to get hard-to-find items.
Try these, too
One of the newer cookbooks finding a following with Roberts’ customers at Logos is Living off the Land & Sea, by Karin Goodfellow of Goodfellow Farms on New Providence island. It’s not every cookbook that starts with an article reprinted from The New York Times profiling the author’s lifestyle.
Reprinted in 2004, the book’s recipes rely on the fruits and vegetables the Goodfellows grow on their organic farm and seafood they personally harvest. Many recipes have a touch of the tropics in them. A 17-page section on herbs, sauces and salsas is one of the book’s strong points. Many of the sauces and salsas are incorporated into the other recipes.
These, and more than two dozen other Bahamian and Caribbean cookbooks, are available at booksellers throughout the island.
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