No Bahamian breakfast is complete without a good-sized hunk of johnny cake. The course bread has been likened to cornbread but isn’t really the same thing. Everyone makes it a little differently, sometimes it is sweeter, sometimes courser, but always delicious. Historically, it was a crude mix of flour, water and salt, though it is often made now with shortening, eggs, even a little sugar.
It partners up well with other Bahamian favorites such as grits or souse, which is a broth with chunks of meat and vegetables. Speaking of souse, Bahamians will serve up several kinds from fish, to chicken, to sheep’s tongue, to pig’s feet souse.
But back to johnny cake – while it pairs delightfully well with many dishes it is almost required eating with boiled fish, yes, I said “boiled” fish, and for breakfast at that! Honestly, it’s one of the best meals I have ever had.
I really wanted to get a true taste of Bahamian cuisine so I was eager to taste this authentically Bahamian breakfast. My new island friends took me to a little home-style restaurant just off the main road in Andros. It looked to me more like someone’s house. I was greeted by a friendly, rubenesque woman who assured me I was about to have the best meal I had ever tasted.
She was not wrong!
She served it a huge bowl and I could smell a piquant buttery aroma wafting up. In the clear broth I could see grits, large slices of onion and huge chunks of meaty fish. It was spicy, having been seasoned with lime juice and goat pepper. It was buttery. It was delicious. And of course, I had a good-sized hunk of johnny cake to go with it. Now that’s an authentic Bahamian breakfast.