Like Jiggs' dinner hash, the traditional Bermudian breakfast is best when mashed together on the plate. – Erin Sulley photo
Bouchee Bistro won an award three years in a row for best traditional Bermudian breakfast. – Erin Sulley photo
The author and family members enjoying a traditional Bermudian breakfast at Bouchee in Bermuda. – Ofelia, Bouchee server, photo
There are lots of similarities for foodies on this island and the island of Bermuda.
Happy New Year! I hope you enjoyed a wonderful Christmas season. My family and I decided to trade in the snow for sand this year and spent our holidays in Bermuda. We didn’t solely go for the warmer climate. My brother, Ryan, and his fiancé, Angela, live there. Oh yes, sibling jealousy still runs strong my friends.
Bermuda is an absolutely stunning island which, believe it or not, has many connections to our beautiful province of Newfoundland and Labrador. Their version of a Lamb’s rum and coke is called a Dark and Stormy — a delicious mixture of Goslings Black Seal Rum and ginger beer. There’s also common slang like, “Hey Bie” for “How’s it going?”.
Another interesting connection is surnames; Outerbridge, Gibbons, Smith and Burgess are common names on the island. Turns out, the Newfoundland and Bermudian connection spans back to the late 1700s when the two British colonies were regular stops for the fleets of trading vessels.
I could get into a lot more detail on the historical connections but this column isn’t called Fit to Travel or History Bites and I only have 700 words so I have to get to the foodie bits.
As I write this, I wonder if my family had connections? Our Goodridge family, from Renews, were fish merchants. I have a funny feeling their ships may have made the long trip to the sunny shores of Bermuda to deliver cod and other goods. Oops! Sidetracked. That’s a little history project for me later — to the food.
The traditional Bermudian breakfast consists of salt cod. It’s a popular breakfast dish for many families in Bermuda on Sundays.
“It started as a tradition way back in the 18th century when the traders of the early settlement in Bermuda used to trade salt, made by evaporating sea water, with the cod fishermen and returned home with cod fish. Those days mostly the slaves in Bermuda used to eat the cods as a cheap form of food available.
Over the years, the preparation has evolved and become an island-wide tradition,” says the Bermuda Attractions website. It’s an informative website for further history on the dish. It also provides recipes for both the traditional breakfast and their salt cod cakes to boot. However, what it doesn’t say is that although salt cod is now often imported from the North Atlantic, it was originally brought to Bermuda from Newfoundland to feed the Bermudian slaves.
Given this history and wanting to try the true flavor of the island, we headed to Bouchee, located at the end of Front Street. On the menu you’ll see “Codfish and Potatoes”. It’s served with a choice of traditional tomato sauce or butter and onion sauce accompanied by banana, avocado, hardboiled egg and Johnny bread.
They serve a hefty portion of boiled salted codfish and boiled potato. It’s the banana that caught my attention. Egg and avocado — sure. But banana?
Similar to leftovers from Jiggs’ dinner, otherwise known as hash; they too mash everything up to meld all the flavours together, but sans the Johnny bread — a sweet bread you eat on the side.
Mashing up all the ingredients is a sure way for all the flavors to hit every single taste bud in one bite. It took a few minutes to pour the buttery onion sauce all over the plate and mash it up. But holy moly, talk about an abundance of flavor. To be honest, I was a little hesitant about the banana — but it really does work. It adds a hint of sweetness to the salty cod and buttery onion sauce.
When you look up the recipe, you’ll see why it’s prepared once a week on Sunday’s. It’s not something you whip up in a few minutes. Like Jiggs’ dinner, there’s a lot of prep that goes into making the dish. But similarly, the payoff for all that hard work in the kitchen is totally worth it.
I read an article previous to trying this breakfast and it said something along the lines of, “Revered by locals and avoided by tourists”. However, for my fellow foodies out there, part of the excitement of travelling is trying authentic foods to get a true sense of the culture you’re visiting. This traditional Bermudian breakfast is definitely fit to eat.
Erin Sulley is a self-confessed foodie who lives in Mount Pearl. Email firstname.lastname@example.orgTwitter @ErinSulley Instagram @erinsulley