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Fishcakes, and other food

A taste of St Helena

Stay away from restaurants that have menus in five languages. That’s always a tourist trap. You want to eat where the locals eat.{a}

St Helena has a distinctive cuisine, which you can also try at home

Like all isolated places, St Helena has developed a unique food-culture, influenced throughout its history by the British, by the many immigrant populations including the enslaved from Africa and India and Chinese labourers, and by the ships passing through. A typical buffet-style meal might include roast meat and potatoes, salad, vegetables and meat or fish curry.

You can learn more about the cuisine of St Helena on the Wikipedia.

This page concentrates on the local food of St Helena, with recipes passed down over many generations.

In the run-up to the start of the scheduled commercial air service much work was done introducing non-island food to St Helena. While this may meet some need, why come to St Helena and eat just the same as you do at home? Surely one of the most exciting things about a visit here is to try the local food? So that is what we present below.

Please note that Kosher and Halãl foods are not widely available on St Helena.


See the note below on Chilli and Salt.

Below: Fishcakes‘Bread ‘n Dance’‘Plo’‘Do Down’‘Stuffed Pokes’‘Black Pudding’Dessert: ‘Boiled Pudding’Coconut FingersIce CreamLoquat & Honey Tart…and many moreAbout Chilli and Salt

If you enjoy some of the recipes below, you can buy a book packed with 90 pages of St Helena recipes, including variations of the ones shown here and many, many more. The book is called ‘What’s Cooking on St Helena’, published by the Ladies Craft Group, and it’s available on the island. The book has been published continually since April 1984 (originally titled ‘St Helena Cooking’). Unrelated but on the same topic the Saint Cooks website will also be of interest.

St Helena Fishcakes

St Helena has always been an isolated island surrounded by hundreds of Km of ocean. Not surprisingly, therefore, fish has been a main component of the St Helena diet throughout the island’s history. Of the locally-caught fish, Tuna is by far the most prevalent. Indeed it has been quipped that the St Helena Cookbook might be subtitled ‘101 things to do with Tuna’. One recipe, however, seems to stand out, in the minds of locals and visitors alike: St Helena Fishcakes.

Nothing compares with Anne’s fishcakes [᠁] we had a couple of cold beers and Fishcakes that I will never forget as long as I live. Maybe it was 23 days at sea, but they were just so good. Made with fresh fish and chillies, they are to die for{b}.

Naturally there are many variations on the basic recipe, from the simple to the exotic. We’ve even encountered recipes that include ingredients not readily available on St Helena. The one below is a reasonable average.


The essential ingredients are as follows:

  • 250g fresh tuna{1}

  • 300g potatoes

  • 1 small onion, finely chopped

  • 1 medium egg

  • 1 rasher of bacon, diced

  • 1 whole chilli, chopped finely

  • 7.5ml chopped parsley


  1. Peel and boil potatoes in lightly salted water until soft. Drain, mash and leave to cool;

  2. Cook and shred the fish with a knife until fine;

  3. Add the mashed potato and mix thoroughly;

  4. Heat a frying pan on a medium heat with 30ml of cooking oil;

  5. Fry the onion, chilli and bacon until lightly browned, adding spices as required;

  6. Cool, then add to fish and mashed potato;

  7. Add the egg and mix together thoroughly;

  8. Form cakes to about 2cm thick and about 6cm round;

  9. Return to the frying pan and fry cakes until medium-brown on both sides

Add spices to taste (or as available). Any or all of:

Serve with a slice of lemon, with rice or in a burger-bun.

‘Bread ‘n Dance’

‘Bread ‘n Dance’

Actually tomato paste sandwiches, so named because they are always served at a dance, or other social event.


  • 450g fresh tomatoes or a 400g tin of tomatoes

  • 1 onion, finely chopped

  • 1 chilli

  • 15ml sugar

  • 5ml salt

  • Cooking oil or butter parsley

  • 2 rashers bacon, finely chopped (omit for a vegetarian version)

  • 1 beaten egg


  1. Heat the oil in a frying pan

  2. Add onions, chilli, bacon and herbs

  3. Fry until soft then add tomatoes with juice, salt and sugar

  4. Using a fork mash tomatoes

  5. Simmer mixture until all the liquid has evaporated and you are left with a thick pulp

  6. Stir in beaten egg until cooked

  7. Remove from heat and cool

  8. Store in the refrigerator

  9. Serve in sandwiches


Plo has an older name: ‘Around the mast’. The origins of this are unknown but presumably have a seafaring context. ‘Plo’ is probably a corruption of Pilaf.

Note that the recipe below is for cooking Plo in a kitchen, but this is not the way Plo is usually prepared. Plo is a social dish. It is cooked wherever a group of Saints gets together, and everybody brings something to go in the Plo - chicken; pork; vegetables; even fruit. The only fixed ingredients are the rice, cabbage and curry powder. The result is always different but, curiously, always very much the same. So by all means follow the recipe below, but if you want to experience Plo in its full cultural significance you need to eat it at a Saint celebration.


  • 45ml cooking oil

  • 1 onion, chopped

  • 450g bacon, chopped

  • 4 large potatoes, chopped

  • 1 cabbage, chopped

  • 2 large carrots, chopped

  • 2 small slices of pumpkin, chopped

  • 1 tomato, chopped

  • 5ml sugar

  • 225g rice

  • 30ml medium curry powder

  • Tomato sauce

  • Worcestershire sauce

  • Parsley

  • Water

  • Salt to taste


  1. Heat oil and fry onion until starting to brown

  2. Add curry powder and sugar and cook for about a minute

  3. Add bacon and chopped vegetables and steam for about 10 minutes

  4. Add sufficient water to cover all the ingredients

  5. Add the washed rice and season with salt, herbs and sauces

  6. Cover and bring to the boil and simmer gently until all the water has evaporated and the meat and vegetables are all cooked

  7. Add more water if necessary

Serves 4 - 6. To make Beef or Chicken Plo, follow the recipe above but steam uncooked beef or chicken pieces until partially cooked and brown on all sides before adding the vegetables and rice etc. When making Fish Plo do not add the fish until rice and vegetables are nearly cooked.

An alternative ‘Healthy Plo’ recipe is also available.

‘Do Down’

Cabbage Stew. The origins of the name ‘Do Down’ are unknown but it may refer to the cooking process.


  • 1 medium cabbage, sliced

  • 4 potatoes, chopped small

  • 225g bacon pieces

  • 1 large onion, sliced

  • Salt and pepper

  • Thyme

  • Parsley


  1. Heat oil in pan and fry onion and bacon until the onion is transparent

  2. Add potatoes, cabbage and seasoning to taste

  3. Cover and steam until potatoes are cooked

‘Stuffed Pokes’

A ‘poke’ is a fish’s stomach. This would normally be the stomach of a large fish, e.g. a Tuna. The origin of the term ‘poke’ is unknown.

True story: Catherine, now CEO of the Equality & Human Rights Commission, but then with the Development Agency and only recently arrived on St Helena, was taken to meet the island’s fishermen. Do you want a poke? one enquired. Catherine blushed. Then someone told her what the local term meant…

Corned Beef Plo is also, apparently, popular.


  • 2 large fish pokes

  • 900g mashed potatoes

  • 120g bacon, finely chopped

  • 2 large onions, finely chopped

  • Chopped parsley

  • 1 pinch thyme

  • Seasoning


  1. Wash pokes thoroughly and boil in salted water until tender

  2. Set aside to cool

  3. Meanwhile fry the onions, parsley, thyme and bacon until lightly brown, then add to potatoes and season to taste

  4. Spoon seasoned potatoes into the tender pokes

  5. Season the pokes

  6. Secure the ends with some white cotton or white string

  7. Put some cooking oil into a saucepan, just enough to cover the bottom and heat gently

  8. Add pokes and cook until golden brown for about 1 hour, tossing during cooking time

  9. Keep lid on saucepan

Serves 2. If fish stomach is not available perhaps a sheep’s stomach would do.

‘Black Pudding’

‘Black Pudding’

If you’re British you may think you know Black Pudding; but then you haven’t tried St Helena Black Pudding.


  • 3 large skins (pigs’ or calves’ intestines)

  • 250ml animal blood

  • 800g rice (white or brown)

  • 1 large onion, finely chopped

  • 2 rashers of bacon, finely chopped

  • A handful of parsley, finely chopped

  • Salt and Pepper to taste

  • 1 pinch of mixed spice

  • 1 pinch of thyme

  • chilli to taste


  1. Clean skins carefully by washing them several times, turning them inside out and scraping any slime away.

  2. Leave them to soak for 12 hours (e.g. overnight) in a mild solution of salt and water.

  3. Boil rice until nearly cooked.

  4. Lightly fry onion, bacon, herbs and chilli then add to the rice.

  5. Strain the blood into the rice mixture until the rice is just covered in blood.

  6. Season, add mixed spice and mix well.

  7. Wash and dry the skins, then stuff them loosely with rice mixture and secure ends.

  8. Prick with fork and put into pot of boiling water for 30 minutes, until skins are tender.

  9. Remove and drain.

‘Bread ‘n Dance’

Dessert: ‘Boiled Pudding’

The name is fairly obvious… Boiled or steamed pudding was a common dish aboard ships in the Royal Navy during the 18th and 19th centuries.


  • 675g flour

  • 5ml salt

  • 10ml baking powder

  • 10ml mixed spice

  • 2.5ml ground nutmeg

  • 2.5ml ground cloves

  • 340g margarine

  • 340g sugar

  • 4-6 beaten eggs

  • 450g mixed fruit

  • 12.5ml vanilla or almond essence


  1. Burn 45ml of the sugar to give a caramel colouring

  2. Cream margarine and remaining sugar

  3. Add eggs one at a time and beat thoroughly

  4. Sift the flour and spices and fold in a little at a time together with the fruit

  5. Add vanilla or almond essence and burnt sugar, mixing it to a dropping consistency

  6. Spread a wet cloth over a cake-shaper and lightly flour it

  7. Put the pudding mixture in the cloth and tie it very tightly with string, leaving enough room for expansion

  8. Boil it in a large saucepan of boiling water for 3 - 3½ hours (put a heat-proof plate at the bottom of the saucepan to prevent it from sticking)

  9. Top the boiling water up from time to time

  10. When cooked remove it from the cloth and allow it to cool before cutting

‘Bread ‘n Dance’

Coconut Fingers

Not strictly a St Helenian foodstuff; more ubiquitous than endemic, they are served on almost every occasion where finger-food is required.


  • 280g self-raising flour

  • 225g sugar

  • 225g margarine

  • 225g Desiccated coconut

  • 225g Icing Sugar{2}

  • 4 eggs

  • Vanilla essence

  • Food colouring (pink is the normal colour)


  1. Cream the margarine and sugar until soft

  2. Add the eggs individually, each accompanied by 15ml of sifted flour

  3. Add one or two drops of vanilla essence plus the food colouring and mix

  4. Add the remaining flour and mix again, thoroughly

  5. Place in a flat rectangular cake-tin and bake at 180°C(gas mark 4) for 20-25 minutes

  6. When cool, cut into fingers

  7. Mix icing and soften using 1-2 egg whites

  8. Dip each finger into the icing then roll in the desiccated coconut to cover thickly

  9. Allow to set, then serve

St Helena Ice Cream

Ice Cream

This may be the easiest Ice Cream you will ever make! It tastes like rich vanilla ice cream and there is no need for an ice cream maker…

However, the recipe is based on some proprietary products which are available in the UK and St Helena, but not necessarily in other parts of the world, though they probably have have equivalents.

The unflavoured version approximates to vanilla flavour.



  1. Whip the Dream Topping with the Carnation Evaporated Milk until thick;

  2. Add the egg yolks and the icing sugar and whisk to dissolve the sugar;

  3. Add any selected flavouring;

  4. Separate the eggs and whisk the whites until they form peaks;

  5. Place mixture into a freezer-compatible container and fold in the egg whites;

  6. Place in the freezer and leave until frozen (there is no need to stir while freezing)

Serve as required - the unused ice cream re-freezes indefinitely.

Loquat & Honey Tart

A popular dish with local ingredients.


  • 170g self-raising flour as shortcrust pastry

  • 900g St Helena loquats

  • 170g St Helena honey

  • 55g lemon juice

  • 140mL water


  1. Wash the loquats, cut each in half and remove stones

  2. Make a syrup with the honey, water and lemon juice

  3. Add the loquat stones and simmer for 10 minutes then strain

  4. Return the liquid to the saucepan, add the fruit and cook until tender

  5. Transfer to a 21cm pie dish and allow to cool

  6. Cover with the shortcrust pastry, form a hole in the top and brush with glaze

  7. Bake for 20 minutes at 180°C(gas mark 4)

Serves 4; with cream or custard if desired.

…and many more

If you enjoyed some of the recipes above, you can buy a book packed with 90 pages of St Helena recipes, including variations of the ones shown here and many, many more. The book is called ‘What’s Cooking on St Helena’, published by the Ladies Craft Group, and it’s available on the island. The book has been published continually since April 1984 (originally titled ‘St Helena Cooking’). Unrelated but on the same topic the Saint Cooks website will also be of interest.

About Chilli and Salt

Chillies are plentiful and cheap and are greatly used by the inhabitants, who seem particularly fond of hot food.{d}

Saints prefer spicy food and tend to use hot chillies in great quantity. Most of the recipes here could be made entirely without chilli, but then they wouldn’t give the authentic St Helena taste. St Helena Black Pudding without the chilli would simply be ordinary Black Pudding. We recommend you are guided by your palette. Put in as much chilli as you dare; then add just a little bit more!

Similarly, Saints put quite a lot of salt in their food. This too is a matter of taste, but also, doctors tell us, a matter of health. You may wish to moderate the quantity of salt you add, and maybe use low-sodium alternatives.

Sorry, no potatoes

How to go food shopping on St Helena

So you’ve finally made it to St Helena. You’re established in your self-catering flat in Jamestown and you’ve eaten what was in your ‘welcome pack’ so now you need to go shopping to prepare a meal.

If you live in a bigger country than St Helena (which, let’s face it, is most of them) you would probably start by flicking through your collection of recipes, deciding what to cook, writing down a list of the ingredients you will need and then going shopping to buy them.

In St Helena that just won’t work!

Here you do it the other way around. You start by going shopping and buy anything you can actually get that might be useful. Then you go home, survey your collection and thumb through your recipes to see if there is anything you can prepare with the ingredients you have managed to find.

This promotes creativity. For example, you may fancy Key Lime Pie but can’t get limes - use lemons instead. Tuna will substitute for most meats in most recipes. Use your imagination and experiment.


The island has several restaurants and plenty more basic catering establishments, including take-aways. All are required to conform to fairly strict food hygiene regulations so all are safe to eat in/from. Most can provide a vegetarian option. Other dietary requirements are unlikely to be widely catered for, especially outside Jamestown. Some in lower Jamestown are open at lunchtimes only, for the staff working in town, and some open for ‘breakfast’{4}.

It is not possible for us to provide a full list of eating places, though the majority are in Jamestown, Half Tree Hollow or Longwood. Ask around for recommendations!

‍Dot’s Café‍



Dot’s Café sign

Today, as mentioned above, there are many eating establishments on St Helena serving a variety of foods from ‘posh’{5} to basic, but towards the end of the 20th Century things were rather different. The island was in financial difficulties and people could only afford to ‘eat out’ for special occasions. Tourists were few and far between. Even as recently as 2005 there were fewer than half-a-dozen places in Jamestown where you could buy lunch (and some of these did not open every day). Most people commuting into Jamestown brought a packed lunch. However, one establishment from the time is still fondly remembered - Dot’s Café.

The Café opened in 1983, located in The Market on the 1st Floor along the Northern wall at the top of the stairs. Proprietor Dot Leo (photo right) was quite a local character and everybody talks about her Fishcakes.

In his book ‘Curious Little World’{6} Rex Bartlett describes Dot as the ‘Patron Saint of Fishcakes’ and tells the following story (abridged):

At Dot’s Café there was no menu. Her customers didn’t need a menu. It was all good. Her fishcakes came in two styles: With Bite - recommended only for the fireproof palate; and Without Bite, meaning merely spicy-hot and zingy - popular with those of us who are flammable.

Very few tourists realised that Dot’s Café existed, since it was tucked away in the attic of The Market and there was no sign outside - quite common in St Helena at the time. One day Cynthia and I decided to make Dot a sign, with her picture on it. We mounted her portrait on a sign that said Dot’s Café - Upstairs and presented it to her one morning. I have never seen any piece of art affect anyone so strongly. Dot jumped back a step with a delighted squeal and pulled her apron up over her eyes, overwhelmed.

But she was so impressed with the sign she didn’t want it put outside where she couldn’t see it, so she kept it inside the restaurant and showed it to all her customers with great pride.


We asked on Social Media about Dot and her Café and got the following:

When my youngest son was a toddler the highlight of his week was going to Dot’s Café. She was such a kind and generous person. He called her Orange Juice Dot. LOL
Never yet meet anyone that can cook fish cakes like she could.

You can also hear her (right) being interviewed by Tony Leo for Radio St Helena just before the planned refurbishment of The Market in 1990/1, about which she had clearly been told very little…

Sadly Dot herself died in 2003. Her Café became ‘Joan’s Bistro’, under new management, and then ‘Ardees’ which remained until The Market was refurbished in 2016.

Food Events

Below: World Food DayWorld Vegan DayRoyal Bake-Off

World Food Day

Fishcakes, and other food

Fishcakes, and other food

World Food Day, on 16th October, is really not celebrated on St Helena. Unlike some parts of the world we are fortunate to be able to eat sufficient food every day of the year. If you want to help those in the world for whom this is not the case: www.oxfam.org/‌en.

World Vegan Day

World Vegan Day Logo

St Helena actually has a significant - and growing - number of vegans, and vegan food is commonly available in some shops. It is currently not likely that anyone will organise anything to celebrate World Vegan Day on 1st November, but if anyone wanted to, there would at least be some people to celebrate it with.

Royal Bake-Off

Read More

Below: On Facebook™‘Eating Local’Article: Salad - A Saint Helena TaleArticle: ‘Local cuisine’, 1998-style

On Facebook™

The following Facebook™ Group sometimes has recipes and other information about St Helena food: St. Helenian Food.

‘Eating Local’

Published in The Independent 2nd September 2011{7}

Please Note In the years since this article was published the selection of restaurants serving Saint food has increased dramatically. Also not all the establishments mentioned below are still operating.

St Helenian culture, just like the people of the island, is a hot-pot of all sorts, with influences from the Portuguese, Dutch, English, Chinese and Indian to the Caribbean, French, African and American. These international flavours have blended to form what is now, the unique culture of St Helena. A clear example of this, is St Helenian cooking.

Although dishes like Black Pudding, Fishcakes, Goat Meat Curry, Coconut Fingers, Fudge and Guava Duff all originate from other international cuisines, nowhere in the world are these dishes made with the flavouring and methods as they are on St Helena. As a part of the ‘Buy Local Campaign’{8}, many St Helenian eating establishments are developing and enhancing the local dishes, so that they may be included on their menus. Embracing the campaign, proprietors have adopted a policy of using as much fresh, local produce in their meals as possible.

Ann’s Place

St Helena Garden Salad
St Helena Garden Salad

Ann’s Place, named after its original proprietor Mrs Anne Sim, is a very familiar restaurant on the island. Known widely to islanders and visitors alike, especially visiting yachtsmen, many of whom have heard of Ann’s Place before they even arrive.

Owners Richard and Jane Sim are very proud of the reputation they have established for their business. Guests at Ann’s Place know they can always get a fresh fish meal or the traditional fishcake made from fresh local tuna. Jane also tries to source other meats and vegetables locally as well. All salads on the new salad menu at Ann’s Place are made from local salad vegetable including the St Helena Garden Salad, made from lettuce, tomato, onion, carrot, cucumber and a choice of meat slices.

See also our pages Yachting and Castle Gardens.

The Sunflower Café

N.B. The Sunflower Café closed on 31st March 2017.

The Sunflower Café situated at Woodlea, Alarm Forest, provides a facility and food service for small private functions and will cater to menus that are designed with the customer.

The Sunflower Café is a family business providing a variety of three course menus, from the traditional St Helena Dishes to a more international style of cuisine. Business owner, Ms Millicent Stopforth (Millie as she is affectionately known) is keen to utilise as much fresh produce, for her dishes as possible, and comments that we have a variety of fresh fruit, vegetable and meats available on the island but one cannot always guarantee the supply. For a business like mine where I can design a menu to the clients requirements whilst considering what is in season, it isn’t so bad; however I can imagine the irregularity of supply of fresh produce is quite a hindrance on those places that have to provide a daily menu. Millie is keen to support increased production on the island as this would ensure that she could offer a more diverse menu range to her customers.

Wellington House

Wellington House
Wellington House

Wellington House, named after the Duke of Wellington, who visited St Helena in 1805, is primarily an accommodation facility in Main Street, Jamestown, providing food services primarily for the hotel. However the Wellington does provide a booking service where the public can book the venue or a table for dinner. Proprietor, Mrs Ivy Robinson considers her meals to be a traditional English style of cooking however she is always proud to say that we have a distinct St Helenian flavour to our food.

Did the Duke of Wellington stay at Wellington House?

It’s a popular belief that Wellington House is so-named because Arthur Wellesley, the 1st Duke of Wellington stayed there during his visit in 1805. But actually he didn’t. In Jamestown he stayed at (Old) Porteous House, just across the road from Wellington House, which was destroyed by fire on 2nd April 1865 and recently re-built. He also stayed at The Briars. Wellington House is named in his honour - that’s all{9}.

These are but a few of the food establishments operating on the island. But wherever you go, you can guarantee a fusion of traditional St Helenian cooking complemented with true ‘Saint’ hospitality.

Article: Salad - A Saint Helena Tale

Published on the blog Notes from a (very) small island 24th November 2014{7}{10}

When I moved here I never thought I’d be writing a blog about salad. Salads, even the very best ones just aren’t that interesting, even for a geeky foody like me. But I’ve literally just finished dinner (of a salad obviously) and it struck me how much the meal told a story of life on the island. We’ve had salad here before, but just normal, run of the mill salad. When I was last home I told people that if you want a salad you have to buy a lettuce when you see one and then hope you see a cucumber before the lettuce goes soggy and limp. Tonight that went a step further and everything came together, but for one night only.

If you know me and know my physical stature you would presume that I’m not much of a salad muncher, but you’d be wrong, because I love all food (expect mushrooms, I bloody hate mushrooms, why would you eat anything that smells that bad when it’s cooking) and hence the rather nonathletic figure I just mentioned. This has been changing since I’ve been over here, the outdoor lifestyle, limited activities other than sport and lack of convenience food has meant that I have lost weight for the first time in my life. Actually it’s the second time, I also lost weight during the summer of 1989 when we holidayed in a then still Communist Bulgaria and the food was somewhat lacking for a 9-year-old’s palate. For instance breakfast on our flight over on Balkan Airways was cold beef and peas, at 7am, not really appetising.

Anyway, back to the salad, like some of my other posts have said before, what you really crave is what you can’t have and here that is often salad. So, whilst I am being healthier in general I’ve actually really wanted a good salad, so much so that we’ve been talking about it for a while. A salad with all the constituent parts, with a blue cheese dressing (although that wasn’t for me) and some crusty bread. Simple, right? Well, no, after being here for 15 months tonight was the first time all the constituent parts came together at the same time, we’ve had them all at some point or other but never at once. So we’ve just finished dinner, of a salad, and it was fantastic and most of the constituent parts had their own little story to tell.



Lettuce - Locally grown, I can’t tell you what type it was, but I bought it 10 days ago and since being here I’ve become very good at preserving food, lettuce has even become a bit of a specialty.

Cucumber - Arrived on the last ship from South Africa. We have cucumber quite often but as it often doesn’t coincide with anything else we tend to use it with a Hendricks and tonic, which let’s be honest is probably the best way you can use a cucumber.

Walnuts - Regularly available from the ‘health shop’, however rumour is that this is closing down soon, making the shopping just a little bit harder.

Red onion - Now this is rare, we have onions all the time, but very rarely red onions. I got these 3 weeks ago and thankfully I managed to save one for an occasion such as this.


Hellman’s Mayonnaise - Something that I haven’t seen on the island at all, but that’s ok because we planned ahead and brought two years supply with us. Along with all the things that we didn’t think we can get easily here, we planned what we would use over two years and did a huge shop before we came, packed it in our container and sent it half way round the world. This included mayonnaise, toilet roll and my Alpecin shampoo to help with my receding hairline. You can get mayonnaise here, but if it’s not Hellman’s it’s just not right.

Blue cheese - Around Christmas time the cheeses become a bit more available, it’s possible to get Cheddar in two distinct flavours (mild or mature) all year round, but other cheeses are a little rarer and worth stocking up on/hoarding when you see them. I’ve had this one for quite a while and saved it especially for this dressing, I’m pleased I got to use it before it went out of date.

Garlic - This is surprisingly abundant so I cook it with it most nights. Just in case, we did actually bring garlic powder with us.


Beetroot - One of the things you have to do when shopping here is check the dates. I think some of the suppliers have deals to buy foods close to their sell by date. Add on to this the shipping time to get here and often food on the shelves is beyond its sell by date so it’s always worth checking. But pickled beetroot lasts forever, that’s the point of pickling it, the jars will last a few years so there’s no point in checking. Or so I thought, I actually bought a jar which was 6 months out of date, just how long had it been knocking around? It had probably been on the shelf since before I started work at Leeds City Council let alone planning my trip here.

Tomato, spring onion and mozzarella - Now this was a real treat. Tomatoes are generally common but cherry tomatoes aren’t and this is what we had tonight. We’ve only has them once before in fact. These were imported but strangely enough I’ve actually started noticing wild tomato plants on the island. They are the smallest tomatoes I have ever seen and I first noticed them on the tennis court, but we went walking on Sunday and they were everywhere. I’m not sure if I’m brave enough to actually eat them though{11}. Spring onions are very rare although the islands seems to have a glut of them at the moment which is often the case with different foods. The mozzarella is the same story as the blue cheese, only available at Christmas.

Salad Cream - See Hellman’s Mayonnaise but this time it has to be Heinz.

Crusty Bread Roll - This arrived today, well actually it arrived on the boat last Tuesday but we got our boxes today. This was our Christmas shop with all the goodies we need to have a proper Christmas, wine, ale, Quality Street and Mince Pies. We also ordered some of that part baked crusty bread. It’s a real treat here.

So there you have it, how to make a salad Saint Helena style and how much effort and planning goes into making what would normally be a very simple meal.

Article: ‘Local cuisine’, 1998-style

In March 1998 a website about St Helena (no longer operating) reported the following:

As with most isolated communities throughout the world St Helena has developed its own unique multi-ethnic cuisine. There are six eating places on St Helena each with their own special character: Consulate Hotel; Wellington House; Ann’s Place; Dot’s Cafe; C&M’s Coffee Shop in Jamestown and Farm Lodge, St Pauls.

Today ( years later) the choice is a lot wider.


{a} Curtis Stone{b} Crystal Degenhardt, 2009. Read the full blog posting{c} Tourist Information Office{d} Benjamin Grant, in ‘A Few Notes on St Helena’, 1879{7}{e} Ben Swanepoel on St HelenaOnline{f} Radio St Helena/Museum of St Helena, digitised by Burgh House Media Productions


{1} Fresh is best but tinned will do. Of course, the best result can only be achieved with tuna caught in the unpolluted waters off St Helena{2} Saints like their food very sweet. You might want to reduce the quantity of sugar, or even eliminate it completely, depending on your taste.{3} If you aren’t familiar with Dream Topping, it’s sold as a desert in the UK. See cooksinfo.com for more. In America the equivalent product is Dream Whip.{4} Most Saints eat a minimal, if any, breakfast before work, eating their first meal of the day at the 10am break (Ten O’Clocks) so ‘open for breakfast’ may mean open by 10:00h.{5} The term ‘POSH’ comes from 19th Century Britain. When British people travelled to or from India it was considered more desirable to travel in the north-facing side of the ship. Only the rich could afford to pay the extra to secure this. ‘POSH’ comes from ‘Port Out, Starboard Home’ (Port = left; Starboard = right).{6} ‘Curious Little World - A Self-Imposed Exile on St Helena Island’, by Rex Bartlett. Toppermost Books, ISBN 978-0-9783927-0-3 2007.{7} @@RepDis@@{8} Aimed at improving the use of locally-produced, as opposed to imported foodstuffs.{9} See other debunked myths.{10} See more blogs.{11} Website author’s note: not only are they edible, they’re delicious!


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