“Save dem bones.” “Yeah, yeah, mus have de head fo soup.” “Das my fish!”
That’s how Patrick Bennett, Uncommon Caribbean‘s creative director, describes an ordinary day at a fish market in Oistins, Barbados. See, in Oistins, fish is everything, and everything is fish. The village, located in the Parish of Christ Church in the southern part of the island, is home to entire fishing communities, lively fish markets, rusty yet reliable fishing boats (they do do the job, after all), and generally all things fish. Like this:
The word Oistins may sound a little like a fake oyster, but is in fact a corrupted version of the name Austin, and honours a wealthy landowner – called Austin. The man, they say, was a notorious rum-lover, an unpleasantly loud character whose hobby was to disturb public peace in local drinkeries.
Alcohol celebrities apart, in Oistins, Fridays and Saturdays are reserved for the Fish Fry, a quite recently-invented local tradition. The Fish Fry is fast gaining momentum as the place to be – and the thing to do – if you suddenly find yourself in Oistins on a weekend night (oh lucky you!). The best of local delicatessen, fish fried and grilled and raw (if you feel like it!) is offered by numerous vendors. On the menu: swordfish, king fish, dolphin fish, flying fish, perhaps several more, and barracuda. Such as this one:
Your belly full? No worries! Just change the gear and dance the night away, following the rhythmic Barbadian sounds.
And then, as if every fish-full day wasn’t enough, there’s, of course, the fish festival. This year, the Oistins Fish Festival takes place on 6-9 April to coincide, as it always has, with the Easter weekend. The festival is dedicated to the people who go out to the sea, day after day, to put fish on our tables, and everyone else in the industry. Sounds like the perfect time to pay a visit? Indeed.
And remember: Oistins is fish, and good fish is in Oistins!