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Caribbean cooking: Barbados' Celtic connection

Tue 31 May 2011 18:17

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Barbados held its annual Celtic Festival this month, and chef Eadie Manson went along to find out where the Celtic connection comes from and to explore the culinary delights of the Caribbean.

Looking around the capital city of Bridgetown, Eadie spotted the colonial influences including the Lord Nelson monument, the Parliament building and the Independence Arch, but there wasn’t a saltire in sight. As he scratched below the surface, however, the Celtic connection became clearer.

Professor Henry Fraser, who has spent the past 33 years dedicating his time to teaching others in the health profession in Barbados, told Eadie:

“Barbados was settled in 1627 and the very first ship brought English settlers with their servants. They were almost certainly Londoners who came in that first ship.

“My own family on both sides were Scottish - Frasers and Watsons - and I don’t know if they came as a result of the battle of Culloden. We don’t know the reasons for most people coming but we do know that there is a tremendous Celtic connection.

“The term ‘red lights’ has been applied over several centuries to most of the Scottish servants who came to Barbados, They came on contract and were worked almost to death. They lived on the craggy hillsides which were extremely infertile in the Scotland district. It is said that the Scotland district was so called because the hills represent the craggy hills of Scotland.”

The country has a lot of great Scottish engineers, entrepreneurs and priests, and there is also a strong connection with Wales and Ireland. Even the Prime Minister of Barbados, Freundel Stuart, had an Irish mother and an uncle who studied at the University of Edinburgh.

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