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ON THE LEFT: Add unique twist to food tourism

Michael Harrison

ON THE LEFT: Add unique twist to  food tourism

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Food tourism is big. People all over the world are doing it. You go to some hotels and you are getting cooking classes, you are getting tours. In relation to Barbados and this hotel, I think it is important that the guests experience our culture and our indigenous products and ingredients and foods, but I think they also need some stuff that they are familiar with.
What we do here is blend of a lot of that really, utilising my background of being trained internationally and using our local ingredients and marrying them.
Concerning food tourism here, we do a couple of tours. We have one tour with a fisherman, a man called Barker, and he goes out and whatever he catches is our catch, so his name is even on the menu. If he catches lobster that is on the menu, if he catches barracuda, snapper, that is on the menu, but we also supplement that with other fishermen as well.
We have a tour where Barker would take guests out at six o’clock in the morning on a small boat and guests would go fishing and then they would come back and bring the fish back to the hotel and I would prepare it in whatever style they want to have it done.
It’s beautiful and they all love it. And then we have a tour as wellwhere I take guests to the market on Saturdays. I drive the company van and they see the locals shopping for their vegetables on a Saturday, the colours, the smells, the vibe – there is nothing more Bajan than a market on a Saturday morning.
We buy some vegetables from each of the hawkers and we go to the fish market and we see how they clean the flying fish and bone the big fish and purchase some fish.
After the market I would go to a rum shop and we would eat some pudding and souse all from the same plate, and we try different foods and eat them from the same plate.
I bring the food back to the hotel and do a demonstration on the local ingredients that we would have bought from the vegetable market and fish market and then they would have that for lunch. You can’t want better food tourism than that really.
So food tourism is very important for tourism destinations like Barbados. Take pudding and souse, for example. It’s not just about the pudding and souse; it’s about what it represents to us because that dish started from slavery when the plantation owner would throw those parts away.
It used to be what we might call peasant food or poor man’s food, but now it’s not.
People from all levels of society are eating it and enjoying it because it is such a Bajan thing on Saturday with rum or beer – it’s just us really. Barbados would do well to increase its focus on this area of tourism.
Michael Harrison is Cobblers Cove’s executive chef.