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Culture and Island Life

Local Voices
Bahamas Ministry of Tourism

The Bahamas, a collection of 20 inhabited islands and more than 700 islands and cays altogether, is characterized by a tranquility in the natural rhythms of everyday life: women who wake early to assemble their fresh produce at market stalls; roadside street vendors selling live land crabs and the traditional Bahamian breakfast of grits and sardines from food trucks; uniformed children walking to school passing by elders perched on their wooden porches. These quiet scenes of island life, from Bimini and The Abacos in the north to Inagua and Crooked Island in the south, offer a glimpse into its culture.

Of course there are exceptions to this even pace, like a boisterous game of slamming dominoes between old friends and rivals, or a lively weekend at the local fish fry. Every island has one, where Bahamians feast on local delicacies and jive to the sounds of Caribbean rhythms. Homegrown Rake-N-Scape music is made by beating a goatskin drum and scrapping a hand saw, typically with a screwdriver or other metal object.

Art work, both public and mounted on gallery walls, tells deeper stories of the Bahamian people: their joys, aspirations, fears and vexations. The art is rich in color and character; and so are the Bahamian people.

-Noelle Nicolls, Journalist, Publisher, “The Domestic Tourist”

“At our marina and hotel in Green Turtle Cay, Abaco, there is a fish station on the dock less than 100 feet from our kitchen. Every day it is a hub of activity; people congregate to see what is on offer when the fishermen bring in their cuts and trophies. As a chef I am constantly inspired by the fresh fish and bounty of the sea, especially when the fishermen bring in hog snapper, my favourite. The hog snapper is rare because it doesn’t take a hook. You have to spear it. On my menu you will also find fresh tropical fruit salsas paired with fish. Tropical fruit and sea food is under-explored in the culinary world but I draw inspiration from the fresh ingredients available in Green Turtle Cay.”

-Michael Howell**,** Executive Chef, Green Turtle Club Resort & Marina

“Cat Island people relax in the evening on their verandas or under the shade of a big sapodilla or tamarind tree. Both have wild fruit you can eat in the spring and summer. Family members come around to play a game of dominoes, drink a little booze and eat fried fish and Johnny Cake. During the day, we farm and fish. On public holidays we flock to Bennett’s Harbour Beach. It is a short beach compared to others on the island like Pigeon Cay Beach – less than a mile long – but it sits in a bay with crystal blue water and pure white sand. We have most of our picnics on this beach.”

-Alexander Wilson, Tour Guide and resident of The Bluff

“If you want a good breakfast you eat yellow corn grits and boil fish. My day is complete when I eat that. That’s a must try Bahamian thing. Growing up we ate grits with everything. Rice was a delicacy we only ate on Sundays. Grits was easier to come by because everybody had farms. We always waited for Sunday so we could eat rice and chicken. We’d even try to save some to carry to school the next day and show off to our friends.

To make grits you dry the corn and then grind it through a mill. This process also creates fine grains and corn flour, which we make bread with. The husk normally goes to the pigs or chickens. You’ll see corn growing in many yards. When it is green, we roast it on the cob.”

-Omar Daley, Tour Operator, Boat Captain, Massage Therapist