An Insider’s Guide to Bermuda: Traditional Codfish Breakfast
Wander around on the early Sunday morning streets of Hamilton and a certain smell will be wafting all around you. It’s the smell of a traditional Bermudian Sunday breakfast. Revered by locals and avoided by tourists, it’s something worth a try for anyone visiting the island. This meal is reserved for Sundays and holidays, as it takes a considerable amount of time to prepare. The original Bermudian meal consists of salted codfish, boiled potatoes, bananas, boiled eggs and avocado. While some might recoil in fear at the ingredient list, for those brave foodies, it’s the authentic Bermudian breakfast.
The original Bermudian meal consists of salted codfish, boiled potatoes, bananas, boiled eggs and avocado. While some might recoil in fear at the ingredient list, for those brave foodies, it’s the authentic Bermudian breakfast.
The tradition of codfish breakfast started during the 18th century when codfish was brought to the island from Newfoundland, Canada, to feed Bermudian slaves. They would consume salted codfish, as it was inexpensive and plentiful. This staple has become the center of Sunday breakfast.
To prepare this meal you’ll need to:
- Soak the boneless salted codfish overnight and change the water (draining and refilling) twice
- The following morning, before cooking, change the water again
- Boil the codfish for 25 minutes, add 4 whole potatoes and 4 eggs to boil together
- In a separate pan, fry 4 pieces of bacon and shredded onion in 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add stewed tomatoes, salt, pepper, ketchup and simmer. (An alternative sauce is to substitute butter for the tomatoes and ketchup and continue the recipe as written.)
- When arranging the plate, place a sliced banana, avocado, and a boiled egg. Add the potatoes and salted codfish and cover with sauce. Breakfast is not complete without a side of Johnny cakes or corn bread cakes.
There is a local twist though, although the presentation of the plate with separate ingredients is important, Bermudians smash all of the ingredients together in one bowl before indulging.
For this brave writer to experience what is known as “a real taste of the island”, it involved a rather early wake-up and a trip into town.
For this brave writer to experience what is known as “a real taste of the island”, it involved a rather early wake-up and a trip into town. Not knowing what to expect when indulging in my first authentic Bermudian breakfast, I ordered one of the the “alternative sauces”, onion and butter instead of tomato. My first impression once it was placed in front of me was how large the portion size is! Huge heaps of potatoes and codfish compete for space on the plate against the banana, boiled egg and avocado. My first bite, half potato/half codfish, was warm and buttery. I remarked my surprise at how inviting the mixture of the butter, onion, codfish and potato was to my dining companion and went on to sample the rest of the dish.
Admittedly, I did not mash the contents of the plate together like some Bermudians do; I prefered to mix and mash as I went, pairing different tastes and flavors. I consumed what I believed to be a sufficient serving of breakfast but as the dishes were being cleared my waiter expressed concern. I repeatedly tried to assure him of how thoroughly I enjoyed my breakfast, even with the substantial amount of food remaining on my plate. A bit disappointed, he offered to pack up what was left to take home with me, but I declined. To truly be enjoyed, it must be eaten the first time, warm and buttery, straight from the kitchen.
My first Bermudian breakfast was a success! I can genuinely say that I enjoyed the adventurous spirit with which I approached the event. While I won’t be running out of the house every Sunday to order it again, I will try it again on some other occasion when the craving strikes.
Revered by locals and avoided by tourists it’s something worth a try for anyone visiting the island.
Several restaurants serve the best codfish breakfast around. They are listed below:
Bouchee Restaurant: In 2009 this establishment won an award for the best codfish breakfast on island. It is $15 and you MUST call ahead and reserve your dish as they go fast. Bouchee is open on Sundays for breakfast from 7:30am – 11:30am and is located at 75 Pitts Bay Road, Pembroke, Bermuda.
Speciality Inn: This establishment is akin to a local family owned diner. They serve codfish breakfast on Saturday mornings (they’re closed Sunday) from 6:00am – 11:30am. The cost is $15 and they are located on South Shore Road in Smith’s Parish.
Fairmount Southampton: For those who would like their breakfast served in a lavish setting this is where to go. At Windows of the Sound, they serve the traditional meal with a variety of sauces to choose from. The price varies but since this is a luxury hotel it is elevated from the other restaurants. They are located in South Shore Road in Southampton Parish.
Lindsey Lehman is the Bermuda Editor for Wandering Educators
Photos courtesy and copyright Lindsey Lehman