Welcome to Celestine’s. There’s no fancy parking here, no servers, no waiters. Just a belly full of incredible Barbadian home cooking and the quiet of the Barbados countryside. The woman behind the operation is Celestine, and she’s been in service to the Barbadians and visitors alike for the past decade. She has clearly enjoyed every moment of it over the years, because she admits that she’s long forgotten the exact date she started the business.
“I started out up here by working at the Harrison’s Cave - I worked in the canteen at the time, you know. But then I bought this spot in 2007 from the owner and opened for business sometime in 2009… or 2010… I can’t remember…”
From the roadside, a voice distracts as it greets Celestine by name. It is a neighbourhood child - in her school uniform - saying hello to the proprietress. Luckily, the amiable interruption jogs her memory and she continues:
“We open each day at 6AM for breakfast and school children and people going to work usually stop to buy breakfast. We do things like fish cakes, coconut bread, bakes, fruit cake and other breakfast things. We always have fresh fruit juices too.”
Before she could finish listing the whole breakfast menu, Ester appeared. We knew her name because she wore an apron with ‘Ester’ embroidered in the middle - identical to the one Celestine was wearing that had ‘Celestine’ in the middle. After a brief introduction, Ester confirmed that the name on her apron was misleading:
“It’s Esther with an ‘h’.”
Esther has been working with Celestine from day one.
But, let’s backtrack for a minute. One thing that stands out at Celestine’s is an old, abandoned mobile canteen that seems to be leaning against the fence. Typical rural, rusted landmark, right? Well, yes and no. Celestine enlightens us:
“That little canteen out there that you parked by… That is where I first operated from before coming here in the chattel house.” Her face was beaming with the nostalgia.
Our conversation was a warming walk down memory lane, but Celestine was quick to remind that our meeting wasn’t about chit chat. She disappeared through a door and into her kitchen, where only her silhouette was visible through the door’s mesh. A few muted kitchen noises later, it was a lunch feast.
Satisfying. Delicious. Filling. Amazing. The food here is the kind that makes you do a little jig as you chew. The juices are insanely refreshing and quenching. And, to top it off, sweet bread - arguably the best dessert to end a Bajan meal.
Go. Eat. At. Celestine’s.