Nassau, Bahamas – Albany’s Sister City

fish-fry-thumbMy hometown, Albany, NY, has a Caribbean twin in the Bahamas, but they sure don’t look alike.

Actually, that’s the point.

Town twinning “is a concept whereby towns or cities in geographically and politically distinct areas are paired, with the goal of fostering human contact and cultural links.”

Looking at the list of Albany’s Twin Cities, as designated by Sister Cities International, I wouldn’t mind volunteering to be our cultural ambassador.  I could use an excuse to travel around the world to: Nijmegen, Gelderland, Netherlands; Quebec City, Quebec, Canada;  Tula, Tul’skaya, Russia; Verona, Veneto, Italy; with a return to Nassau, Bahamas.

Thus, in the spirit of the Sister Cities’ Mission to – “promote peace through mutual respect, understanding, & cooperation – one individual, one community at a time”- I looked for the similarities between Albany and Nassau.

It wasn’t easy.  One is set in the Caribbean, on an island surrounded by shallow ocean that is as clear and warm as a bath; the other borders the Hudson River, not so clear or warm.

In Nassau, locals welcome the short weeks of Winter when they can enjoy cool, comfortable temperatures below 80 degrees Fahrenheit.  In Albany, locals welcome the end of months of Winter, where you can expect snow anytime between November through May.

So, what do these two cities, set in such different environments, have in common?

Fishbowl Society

In The Bahamas, “if someone says that he is related to you, he probably is.  Consequently, we know each other’s business, and enjoy hearing and talking about it in great detail, the more salacious the better.”

Okay, sharing gossip is probably universal, but Albany – the capital of New York State, and home to a bustling population – is also known as “Smallbany.”  Sometimes, it seems like you can’t go anywhere without running into the same people.  And, yes, everyone seems to “know each other’s business.”

Fish Fry

On an island surrounded by ocean, it isn’t surprising that seafood is a common food.  You can find Cracked Conch, fried conch that resembles clam strips, on most Bahamian menus.

fish-fry2-thumb Less expected, perhaps, are the seasonal fish fries that are found in Albany.  During the summer months, stands selling fried clam strips and battered or breaded haddock are popular hangouts.

Apparently, these fish fries became common in Midwestern and Northeastern US as a result of the Roman Catholic community’s abstention from meat during Lent.

That explains how Albany, with no access to oceans or seafood, developed thriving seafood shacks.  Somehow, despite completely different environments, both cities developed a similar taste for fried seafood.

It looks like Albany and Nassau already have at least one cultural link, too bad we can’t share the warm weather as well!

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