Traditional Bahamian Cuisine: 10 Tastes to Try on Caribbean Cruises

Don't just look for the five-star restaurants on your Caribbean cruise. Enjoy local Bahamian cuisine, too.
Don't just look for the five-star restaurants on your Caribbean cruise. Enjoy local Bahamian cuisine, too.

Bahamian food is an eclectic combination of southern American (think cornbread, peas, and rice) and Caribbean (think spicy seafood) styles. What sets Bahamian cuisine apart, however, is the islands' love of spices. Properly spicing a dish is critical to Bahamian cuisine to create the ideal flavoring and coloring of some of the most popular of dishes. Check out these 10 traditional Bahamian dishes you won't want to miss when you're on your next Caribbean cruise.

1. Cracked Conch

Conch (pronounced "konk") shells may make for excellent wind instruments, and it's undeniably fun to hold them up to your ear and listen to the ocean — but while you're on the islands, try the delicious meat of the conch, too. Cracked (also known as fried) conch is pounded and breaded in a way similar to a veal cutlet, and it is served in a number of ways, including curried or with a Creole sauce.

2. Conch Salad

On Caribbean cruises, look for this ceviche-style dish serves uncooked conch doused in a spicy pepper and citrus sauce. It is often mixed with tomatoes, green peppers, cucumbers, and celery.

3. Rock Lobsters

Otherwise known as spiny lobsters, these delicious crustaceans are a major export of the Caribbean. Enjoy them steamed or boiled, in salads, as patties, or in Creole-style sauces.

4. Bahamian Stew Fish

A dark roux is combined with spices, tomato, celery, and onion to make a thick red sauce that is served over a partially pan-fried catch of the day (most commonly grouper or snapper).

5. Johnnycakes

Similar to southern American cornbread, johnnycakes are the unofficial bread of the Bahamas. A pan-cooked concoction, johnnycakes are made of milk, butter, flour, and sugar, and are often eaten with stews and curries.

6. Pigeon Peas and Rice

Served as a side to common Bahamian fare, pigeon peas and rice is a classic dish most commonly made from pork, pigeon peas (a staple bean of the Caribbean and Latin America), celery, rice, tomatoes, and thyme.

7. Baked Crab

A wildly popular dish among locals, crab is combined with bread crumbs, seasoning, and egg, and is then baked in the crab's original shell.

8. Souse

Pronounced "sowse," this famous Bahamian dish is a stew combining onions, lime juice, celery, peppers, potatoes, carrots, bay leaves, and meat — which could include anything from chicken or sheep's tongue to pork, oxtail, or pig's feet. Don't let the more unusual choices scare you off! This is a delicious savory dish, and it's beloved for good reason.

9. Guava Duff

Take guava, fold it into pastry dough, boil it, and you have guava duff. Often served with a rum custard sauce, this local dessert is otherworldly good.

10. The Yellow Bird

Adopted from Jamaica, rum is the national alcoholic beverage of the Bahamas. The Yellow Bird, a local favorite, is a concoction of orange juice, pineapple juice, rum, Galliano, apricot brandy, and banana liqueur (sometimes excluded).

While you're onshore visiting a port on a Caribbean cruise, take in the tastes of local Bahamian cuisine. You'll come back feeling energized and new.