I was on assignment last week in the Bahamas doing a food shoot.
I am always surprised by the food history and culture when I visit a new place and one of my favorite things is when I find ingredients that are normal and everyday in my own world put together differently in another country. It’s always an exciting moment and makes me realize that there are so many foods eaten by cultures all over the world with different stories and histories behind them.
I was in a fish market early one morning in Nassau photographing locals selling fish fresh from their boats. I noticed a small food stall with a really long line of men, all local fishermen buying breakfast before they started their workday.
This tiny 4×6 kitchen was pumping out serious breakfast food. They were making Cajun Creole Bahamian food. Which means that it was hearty, fish-driven and spicy.
Almost all the men were having this grits dish or rice with fish and souse, (souse is a sauce made with water, potatoes, onions and served with some kind of meat or fish.)
It was this grits dish that stopped me in my tracks. The grits were simply prepared, but the sardines, sliced onion, green pepper and tomato with lime on top was a surprise. The flavor was unexpected: I’ve had grits but it’s usually with butter and cheese. Add sardines squirted with lime and it takes on a whole new dimension.
This is what gets me inspired about food and the culture around it: it always tells a story. You can look at this one-dish meal and sense it is not only rich with flavor, but with history as well. How did grits travel to this country? Why it is still eaten today? What I love about being part of the editorial process of a magazine story is how much I get to learn while I work. I look at that photograph and can taste that moment, imagine those first grits traveling across oceans, and how beautiful it is that different cultures adopt food traditions in such different ways.