We Are What We Eat

15 Feb

“What do they eat over there?” was one of the first questions Rich and I were asked when we announced we were moving to Bermuda by various friends and family members. At the time I found it interesting that we sum up a nation by its dishes; that food is the best illustration of a foreign culture. I suppose it’s because, in westernised countries at least, what we eat defines our lifestyles, shapes our social habits and is key in fomenting relationships – from business lunches to birthday celebrations.

US mailboxes seem to be island-wide. I've yet to see a front door with a letterbox

It turned out to be an astute question: typical dishes here include US- influenced foods such as pumpkin pie and macaroni cheese (as a side dish!), and Caribbean options such as jerk chicken and sweet potato fritters. Among these are a smattering of Bermudian foods – codfish cakes for breakfast, shark hash and cassava pie (a sweet pie with chicken and pork) but it’s been far easier to spot a Tex-Mex or Jamaican restaurant than one that promotes Bermudian dishes.

Bermuda’s hodgepodge cuisine is also true of its culture. Old English influences still prevail, with lots of colonial style buildings, red post boxes, and pomp and circumstance for a minor royal’s visit (Bermuda is a British overseas territory) but it is also clear that the Caribbean and North America have made their mark. Of course, almost everything on the island – from food to furniture – is imported, so it makes sense that cultural nuances are imported with them. We were surprised to see that all of the supermarkets here ran Thanksgiving offers and the shops put on Black Friday sales, but there are a lot of expats who have settled here and still maintain their homeland’s traditions.

The familiar sights of a red post box and a UK pedestrian crossing!

Despite all the foreign influences, Bermuda had created and preserved something unique to its culture – courtesy – which I’m still finding exceptional after nearly four months of living here. I’ve noticed that people always say “thank you driver” when they leave the bus and the words “sir” and “ma’am” are not just reserved for customers in nice hotels but for anyone people encounter as they go about their days. I’ve also been offered a lift by strangers when it’s been raining on numerous occasions. When I mentioned this to colleagues, I was told that this was very normal in Bermuda and, unlike England, these people weren’t actually planning to kidnap me.

There’s no doubt that Bermudian life has been shaped and moulded by the domineering forces of the Americas and the UK. But wouldn’t it be nice if we could exchange our traditions for some much-needed lessons from this small island on the value of old-fashioned courtesy? 🙂


2 Responses to “We Are What We Eat”

  1. Frances 15 February, 2011 at 11:02 am #

    Pumpkin pie! What’s it like? Its one of those mythical dishes they always talk about on US TV but I’ve never got so far as to trying it.

    Love the fact they have red postboxes over there…any phonebooths?

    Think you just made me a little hungrier Suzanne!

    F x

    • suscatty 15 February, 2011 at 12:20 pm #

      Hi Fran

      Pumpkin pie is surprisingly tasty! The pumpkin filling itself is quite bland, but most recipes include lots of cinnamon and whipped cream which pep it up! And as it’s mainly pumpkin obviously it counts as one of your five a day 😉

      Yep, there are red phoneboxes here too! Hopefully not full of calling cards for ahem…ladies of the night, like in London though.

      Hope all is well with you Sxx

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: