In the lead-up to Rum Bahamas Festival in February 2016, Guanima Press, Events by Alexandra and the National Art Gallery of The Bahamas are joining forces to bring tid-bits and tastes of things to come with the seven-part “Though the Kitchen Door” series.
The ‘talk and taste’ events will feature talks by noted writer and anthropologist Patricia Glinton-Meicholas, whose studies and extensive knowledge of Bahamian culture will be complemented by samples of local cuisine prepared by acclaimed caterer, events manager and RumBahamas Founder Alexandra Maillis.
Hoping to offer guests deeper insight into the country’s history and social developments, Glinton-Meicholas lamented the fact that much of the information presented on The Bahamas is “simplistic”. Having travelled the country as a girl, spending time with her grandparents on various Family Islands, where her maternal grandfather was posted as a headmaster, she is today able to recall “a living Bahamian community that was not heavily influenced by the American presence, the growing tourism”. “I thought food would be an excellent medium through which to talk about Bahamian history, social history, the people who came here and what they contributed to us,” she added.
Glinton-Meicholas is known for her comical and honest portrayals of Bahamian life and society with her “Talkin’ Bahamian” and “True-True Bahamian” books. Her written works offer a glimpse into the relationship between Bahamian society and food through their examination of ‘the peanut man’ – a Bahamian ‘fast food’ source; the familiar roadside food trucks serving up affordable breakfasts like tuna and grits; and ‘toting’.
Known for her tantalizing flavor fusions, Maillis argues that Bahamian cuisine is not a pure style of cooking, but a blend of 11 cuisines stemming from the African and European continents, U.K., East Asia, South Asia, Greece, the Creole world (which includes centers of French influence, like Haiti and Louisiana), the southern U.S., the Florida Keys, Latin Caribbean and Jamaica. It is her hope that, with Through the Kitchen Door and Glinton-Meicholas’ discussion of our creolized heritage and history, “people get a deeper understanding of who we are, and develop a little bit more broadmindedness”.
“I think it’s exciting,” she added. “The idea is to show that whole relationship and to make us open our minds a little bit about other cultures.”
The first event of the series will take place this month and will focus on the ways the Lucayans and British and African ancestry have contributed to modern Bahamian society and cuisine. An example Glinton-Meicholas cites is the Bahamian fondness for baked treats as a penchant stemming from the country’s former British leadership. This, she believes, can be contrasted with a local familiarity with root vegetables and groundnuts, such as cassava and peanuts, respectively, which have both been heavily used in Lucayan and West African cuisine. “One of the things that I have an issue with is every time you try to talk about culture in this country, the first thing that comes up is Junkanoo, and Bahamian culture is more than that, and this is a way for us to show that than if we were to just write it in a book,” explained Neko Meicholas. “It makes it more palatable to feed it to you, to demonstrate it to you, to show you your history and culture and marry it to food… I think people will remember it better and get a fuller experience of it when it is presented as we are hoping it is.”
The first Through the Kitchen Door event will be held on July 30 at the National Art Gallery of The Bahamas. The talk and tastings begin at 6:30 p.m. Tickets for the event are $15 and can be purchased in advance at The National Art Gallery of The Bahamas.