Bermuda

Explore Bermudian Cuisine Through the Eyes of a Local

Bermunchies curates an Instagram feed highlighting the culinary stars of Bermuda

smithsonian.com

When Bermuda native Elizabeth Varao created the Bermunchies Instagram feed in 2015, she was hoping to showcase her amateur home culinary skills and her passion for food in the country. She first shared her own original recipes experimenting with new-to-her ingredients, and shots of restaurant food. But after only a short time, she realized that while there are more than just rum cakes to enjoy on the island, no one was really talking about the other great Bermudian treats.

With a heritage evolving from African and European roots, the cuisine has a unique mix of both cultures—ranging from potatoes served with the standard English hard-boiled egg for breakfast, to traditional African peas and rice. Suddenly Bermunchies had a new focus: to showcase Bermudian food culture to the world. Smithsonian.com spoke with Varao to discover more about the varied world of Bermudian cuisine, and how she highlights it in the Instagram feed.

What are the staples of traditional Bermudian food?

Traditional Bermudian food is the direct resemblance of the best things that make Bermuda, Bermuda. Over decades, the mixture of cultures that make up our people has heavily influenced the cuisine. Many dishes today feature the diversity and history of Bermuda over time. You can somewhat visualize your “traditional dish” as the best pieces of us all here.

By far the most popular and a staple of nearly every Bermudian home is the traditional codfish and potato breakfast, which is usually eaten on Sundays. It is served with local bananas, boiled eggs, avocado and an intimate selection of tomato or butter sauces that reflect individual or even family preference. Every Bermudian has their own special way of enjoying their CF&P (Codfish & Potato)—either mashed all up together with a dollop of mayonnaise or drizzled with olive oil.

Bermuda fish chowder is another favorite among locals. It is made with fresh local fish that is stewed with an array of spices and vegetables. Traditionally, this chowder is served with black rum and sherry pepper sauce. It is a must-have when visiting the island.

Holidays like Good Friday in Bermuda are also good times to visit, especially for food like codfish cakes. These are made with salted cod, fresh parsley and Bermuda onions, served on hot cross buns, and can be found in abundance.

What's your process for choosing what to photograph?

Our feed consists mostly of easy-to-follow recipe videos, restaurant highlights and follower submissions. We typically like to share all things that depict authentic Bermudian food and the places to enjoy it. Pictures of big local fish sandwiches, ripened loquats and swizzle [a rum cocktail] always seem to be popular.

What do you wish the world understood about food in Bermuda, and how do you hope to capture that through your Instagram?

With nearly everything being imported into the island, food becomes very expensive. Bermudians recognize this, and are becoming more conscious about what we consume, and are also becoming much more self-sufficient. The high pricing is causing Bermudians to seek cheaper, but healthier local alternatives. For example, instead of shopping at big grocers, Bermudians are preferring to support smaller businesses, pop-up shops, or roadside stalls for fruits, vegetables, dairy, seeds, and spices. On weekends you’ll find many of us at local farmers or in the seasonal farmers market. We are engaging a more organic way of living by growing our own food.

Bermuda is more than just beautiful beaches, golf courses and pink sand. There is a taste of something here for everyone to enjoy, whether it’s a five-star meal or delicious quick-grab from the food truck at Albuoy's Point. Local eateries are adapting menus to offer healthier alternatives, more than those from five or ten years ago, where you would never even see vegan or gluten-free options available next to something like a wahoo burger.

We are the perfect destination for a foodie looking to explore their senses through food—plus, we have a beautiful backdrop. That’s why we created Bermunchies, to show it all off.

In your opinion, where's the best place to get Bermudian food on the island?

Getting the true Bermudian culinary experience means you'll need to visit more than one place. You absolutely cannot come to Bermuda without having one of our famous fish sandwiches—or all of them! There is a homegrown battle to be the best so the batter only gets better. Some of our favorites can be found at Seaside Grill, Woody’s Restaurant and the iconic Art Mels—it's a Bermudian staple. Just be assured, finishing one of these will also mean you’ll need time for a nap after. They are huge!

Wash it all down with a pitcher of swizzle at Swizzle Inn. Be easy though, because the sweet drink has a punch to it and can quickly sneak up on you. Swizzle Inn also collects business cards or pictures you can attach to their walls. You can even leave your initials marked right on the table.

Some of the best fish and seafood can be found at the annual county cricket games or the Cup Match Classic. The Cup Match Classic is a two-day cricket event. Some come to the two-day Cup Match Classic for the cricket, others the atmosphere and the food. Fresh Swizzle is in almost every camp, and freshly fried local fish is served right at the field. There is plenty of fish, curried mussels, shark hash, chowder and fish pies. These cricket events are the only time you can get food from certain fisherman and their counters—and people go specifically to these games to get the yearlong awaited taste.

During lobster season, a visit to The Red Carpet or Lost in the Triangle (LITT) is mandatory. Here you will get some of the best tasting lobster, served with sides like peas n’ rice, mac and cheese, and fresh veggies.

What type of food do people normally miss while in Bermuda that they should definitely try?

Most tourists like to stick to the more popular places on the island to dine, but some of the best eats are found at small mom-and-pop joints that make good home cookin’. Eat where the locals eat and you'll never be disappointed. Places like The Spot, a dive diner located in the heart of Hamilton, and Mama Angie’s in St. George's are gems that specialize in simple yet delicious classics like warm soups, sandwiches and freshly baked goods.

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