Separated by a few nautical miles, Antigua and Barbuda are in the middle of the Leeward Islands, part of the Lesser Antilles. There are also a number of smaller islands (including Crump Island, Lobster Island, Wicked Will Island and Prickly Pear Island). Columbus named Antigua after the church of Santa Maria de la Antigua in Seville, Spain. Antigua has a population of 85,632, mostly made up of people of West African, British, and Madeiran descent.
The Bird family has controlled the islands since Vere C. Bird founded the Antigua Labour Party in the mid-1940s. While tourism and financial services have turned the country into one of the more prosperous in the Caribbean, law enforcement officials have charged that Antigua and Barbuda is a major centre of money laundering, drug trafficking, and arms smuggling. Several scandals tainted the Bird family, especially the 1995 conviction of Prime Minister Lester Bird’s brother, Ivor, for cocaine smuggling.
Cricket is the national sport of Antigua and it has produced several famous cricket players including Sir Vivian Richards, Andy Roberts, Richie Richardson and Curtly Ambrose.
Eric Clapton founded The Crossroads Centre, a drug and alcohol addiction rehabilitation centre in 1998. For nearly twenty years Antigua served as Eric Clapton’s refuge from his drug-riddled rock stardom. Mr Clapton thought of the island as a safe and serene place where he could begin the process of healing from very devastating life events and situations. He writes in his 2007 autobiography “It really has been one of the only places on earth I’ve found where I can completely discard the pressures of my life and blend into the landscape. Clapton calls the land of Antigua his second home.
Tourism accounts for over half of the country’s GDP, with annual visitors of around 250,000. Some of the key highlights for the visitor are Nelson’s Dockyard (18th century British naval base), the port town of St John, beaches at Hawksbill Bay and Barbuda’s Codrington Lagoon.
Some of the recipes I came across were Pork with bacon & banana, Fungie (cooked cornmeal like polenta), Dukuna (sweet steamed dumpling), Antiguan fish broth and Fruit cake. I opted to cook Antiguan Jerk Chicken, which can be slowly cooked wings or breast on the bone.
Prep time: 10 mins
Cook time: 4 hours
2 chicken breast quarters (with skin and on the bone)
1 tsp ancho chilli powder
1 tsp ground allspice or 1/2 tbsp allspice berries
1 tsp black peppercorns
1 tbsp honey
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp dried chilli flakes
t tsp freshly grated ginger
1 tsp fresh parsley, chopped
Preheat the oven to 140c
In a mortar and pestle, grind all the spices together
Add the honey and brown sugar and continue to grind well
Add the chopped parsley and ginger and grind till a paste forms
Massage the paste all over the chicken breasts with your hands – it’s a messy job!
Place the chicken breasts in a lidded casserole pot with 1/4 cup of water and cook in the oven for 4 hours
After 4 hours, shred the chicken using a fork
Serve in pitta bread, sub rolls or wraps with a slice of melted cheese and hot sauce