Don’t be alarmed in the days leading up to the Easter weekend if you start to see colourful, seaside tents popping up islandwide. This is simply the Caymanian tradition of camping where families, for as long as I can remember, unplug, and spend time with loved ones in the outdoors. These days are spent enjoying the beach, playing dominoes and boating. Not everyone opts to camp in a traditional tent, but to stay in a quaint beach house in Cayman Kai and enjoy lazy days by the pool, cooking on the barbecue or chatting on the porch. My family has done both versions, as we camped when I was very young in the early 90s and as I got older, we switched to ‘glamping’ by staying in the Island Houses near Rum Point. There are local traditions that every family has during their four-day Easter weekend, but of course food is always at the forefront.
Seeing that our beloved conch and whelk season closes on April 30th there’s no surprise that Marinated Conch with saltines, Stewed Conch and even Stewed Whelks (if you’re lucky!) will find their way onto your plate this weekend. Cayman Style Beef is another classic dish you’ll find because it’s easy to make and can feed friends or family who pop by, whether it’s planned or not. Since Easter is a time for relaxation, meals don’t have all the bells and whistles that Christmas does, you’ll see that having rice, fried plantain and breadfruit are all that’s needed to call it a meal. Lastly, if fishing is part of your Easter routine, you’ll always see the makings of a fish rundown and fried fish & fritters at some point. It’s easy, inexpensive and allows you to take pride in feeding your loved ones with what you’ve caught.
There are also two sweet breads that make their presence known this time of year at both supermarkets and bakeries. By now, you’ve probably passed a wall of Jamaican Easter Bun and canned cheese at some point in the supermarket. Not everyone is a fan of the sweet and savoury combination, but at the very least having a box of Easter Bun to slice for breakfast or an afternoon snack is a must have in my household. I absolutely adore this dense, brown loaf that’s made with raisins, dried fruits, stout beer, brown sugar, and molasses, with the latter ingredients giving it that distinctive colour. The second bread you’ll find on island are freshly baked Hot Cross Buns, which are usually seen as a European and North American tradition. Due to colonisation these were brought to the Caribbean and are the inspiration behind the Jamaican version. Hot Cross Buns are traditionally eaten on Good Friday and have a long-standing religious and historical significance to Easter. These soft, spiced buns are typically baked with currants, orange peel and raisins, then topped with a white cross using a flour-based paste.
Regardless of your religious affiliations, Easter is one of Cayman’s favourite holidays with the focus being on taking it easy and spending time with your friends and family. I hope that you all have a safe and happy Easter!