November’s Word of the Month

A feature we are posting every month here at The Pineapple Post is “Word of the Month”. This feature will highlight an original Bahamian word, with a little explanation of how we use it and some history behind it!

Potcake. Although it sounds like an island dessert, it’s what we call peas n’ rice that has hardened and crusted on the bottom of the pot.  Originally cooked in cast iron pots, it could often be scraped off in one large swipe and chewed like a savory “pastry”.  If inedible, just a little too burnt or rock hard; it was thrown to the yard dogs, which soon were nicknamed Potcakes.

Our native Potcakes can be found throughout the islands of The Bahamas and even the Turks and Caicos today. Their origin of ancestry is thought to be a mix of early Arawak Indian dogs, seafaring dogs used as ratters and alarms on Bahama bound ships, and herding and hunting dogs brought by Loyalists. Today their gene pool is so mixed, no common ancestor can be found. The only similarities that they have are their long snout, tan-colored buzzed haircut look and their stature.

Potcakes are survivors, and can be found nosing around neighborhoods, fast food outlets, restaurant back doors and wherever the smell of food is in the air. They are often seen in the background, patiently and stealthily waiting for picnickers or beach goers to depart before they descend on discarded bones or the crusts of tossed sandwiches.

While our North American neighbors like to style their strays as mutts, or “Heinz 57 Varieties”, we’re proud of our Potcakes and have even elevated these dogs amongst ourselves, proudly referring to them as Royal Bahamian Potcakes. Every family has a story of their Potcake’s intelligence, loyalty, personality and sometimes craftiness.

Here we say, “You don’t adopt a Potcake, they adopt you.” Whether they adopt a person, family, or even a place, these dogs are an ongoing part of the history of the Bahamas.

Linked below, the famous Bahamian singer/songwriter Phil Stubbs’ island tune about the often hard scrabble life of the Potcake,  “They only love me when they need me”. This song perfectly describes the personalities, along with the island knowledge every Potcake possess.

Potcake by Phil Stubbs

To learn more about the quirks and love of the Potcakes, click the links below to expand your knowledge. Some are adoption links, while others are information portal

Feature photo graphic: Shannon Bruce, Photo: Patty Birch

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