Food is such a big part of any celebration, event or simply life in Bermuda. Indeed, it’s the most easily definable part of our culture. There are a lot of things that makes Bermuda unique, from the island itself with the pink sand and subtropicallness… to the music and dances of the Gombeys… to everyone’s favourite four day weekend, Cup Match. However, our food is where any Bermudian can truly feel completely connected to Bermuda as a country and as a society no matter your race, creed or ilk. And there is no time else that is truly visible than during Easter, or what could be commonly be called “my momma makes well fishcakes” season.
It’s not overly original, the mains of this delicious holiday. We do the same candy eggs and chocolate bunnies as the rest of the world and our Easter evening or afternoon family set is chock full of the staples of a big family meal with ham, mashed potatoes and mac and cheese. I mean, we do have the usual bbq chicken and paw paw casserole if your family likes to go old skool Bermudian but that’s pretty much a given for any weekend meal at most Bermudian houses. And the hot cross buns of course, whilst being made with someone’s grandma’s handed down recipe from the first shipwreck on the island, they are still by no means unique to Bermuda.
However, where we shine as a country is our fishcakes. I mean, you might call it Good Friday but at my house, it’s simply known as the day that breakfast, lunch and dinner meld into one long fishcake pon bun eating festival sporadically interspersed with naps, kites , swizzle and the requisite ice cold 12 noon (on the dot!) Heineken. It’s uniquely Bermudian, not only the recipe and the accompaniments but the tradition in and of itself.
Now, the tradition may have food as its center but the true heart of it is in the collectiveness. It’s in the knowledge that that you are celebrating not only spring and rebirth of the year after what we Bermudians call a long winter (effectively anything colder than 70 for basically longer than two weeks) but also the Easter holiday itself, whether it has a religious or secular meaning for you.
It’s hearing the hummers for the first time this year and not thinking, seriously, do they have to make that noise all day AND all night, and actually smiling instead. It’s watching your cousin try to put his “prize” kite featuring a montage of Bob Marley pictures in tissue up in the air and inevitably watching it bean its way head first into someone’s tree. It’s standing in front of your son flicking his plastic Spiderman kite into the air and yelling at him to run to keep it up and being frustrated by watching him stand there as it falls repeatedly to the ground as apparently he forgot how to speak English or follow directions so you take it away from him, get it up to the end of the string and then tie it to the nearest tree because now you totally deserve another Swizzle…. Wait, just me? Uh huh, you’ve totally been there.
It’s heading to St David’s to watch the annual Go Kart race which coincides with the annual “have to park a mile away and walk in” tradition and immediately followed by the “watch the largest kite in Bermuda not get air… again…” tradition.
But more than that, it’s about inhaling copious well fishcakes made by my mom because I’ve yet to figure how to make them correctly and knowing that I’m one of many Bermudians doing the exact same thing at the same time and feeling the same feeling of family, love and history.
Or is that heartburn…