I boarded a plane for Nassau, Bahamas most excited about the beach. There are few places I feel as rested and relaxed as a stretch of white sand and turquoise water. However, I’m a self-proclaimed foodie too and when I travel I always enjoy exploring new cuisine and sampling old favorites with a new spin. So when I found out that our stay in Nassau would include a meal in the home of a local, courtesy of the People to People program, I was pretty excited. There was only one problem: I don’t eat seafood. What’s the most consumed meal in Nassau? As fate would have it: conch. Fried, battered, steamed, cut up and served in a soup – Bahamians love their conch.
I tried not to worry. Surely there would be at least one or two other things on the menu besides conch. Plus, I’d give it a try. It’s only fair when you are a guest in another person’s home. When we pulled up to the front of our host’s home, darkness already descended, torches burning – I had a good feeling. Our kind and enthusiastic host Lesley must have known I was coming. Not only was there more than conch on the menu, there was my favorite: macaroni and cheese! Prepared as a baked dish, it was cheesy and gooey and not too tart or strong in any way that might be considered anything but memorable. I’ve sampled many versions of this pasta dish over a period of quite a few years and the memory of that macaroni and cheese will stay with me for many more.
Lesley is a woman of many talents who created a table for us that was just stunning and a meal that was unforgettable. Truly it was beyond what I ever expected to find outside a five-star restaurant during our trip. We stayed long into the night and talked over all manner of subjects. Wine and beer flowed, friendships were formed. Food was the great equalizer that night and we were joined together because of it.
Bahamian Macaroni & Cheese
Note: Lesley warned that “Bahamians tend not to measure when cooking, we go by taste and the feel of the dish when mixing,” but tried her best to come up with proportions for this recipe. Thanks Lesley!
1 lb box of Muellers (or any other brand) elbow macaroni 1/2 stick of margarine/ butter 1 lb grated cheddar (yellow) cheese 1 1/2 cups herbs (diced onions, sweet peppers & celery) 3 beaten eggs 1/3 cup Tabasco sauce salt 2 – 3 cups of evaporated milk
Boil pasta until cooked and tender (approx 15 min). Drain pasta. Add margarine, diced herbs, grated cheese, beaten eggs, Tabasco sauce, evaporated milk and salt to taste. Mix by hand ensuring all of the ingredients are all blended together.
Pour in a greased Pyrex dish or pan. Sprinkle/dust with paprika. Set oven to 350 degrees and bake for 45 minutes to an hour until golden.
Notes: If you want to make it a little spicy, add some chopped scotch bonnet pepper (in the Bahamas we call it goat pepper). You can also add extra grated cheese on top if you want it cheesier. We also use margarine/butter to grease the pan.
Serves 6 – 8 persons. This is a calorie loaded dish. [/alert]