A Food Lover’s Guide to the Caribbean

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Author: Ricky
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A Food Lover’s Guide
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to the Caribbean

A Food Lover’s Guide to the Caribbean

 
Tranquil, crystal clear, turquoise blue waters, expanses of sandy palm fringed beaches, lush green plantations, tropical jungles and almost all with a historical architecture of a colonial past, the Caribbean Islands are exceptional long haul holiday destinations that should be on all of our bucket lists. 
Not only will you get the calm and relaxing sunbathing experience on the tropical paradise beaches, ideal conditions for snorkelling and scuba diving topped with magical sunsets, salsa, reggae and merengue, you also get to try some of the best culinary delights that the Caribbean has to offer. 
We have chosen to mention a few delicious national dishes from this region so you can try them out when you get there or even seek out the recipes and try making them at home. 

Jerk Cuisine 

 
The vibrant culture, the rhythm and sway, the welcoming people, the unforgettable beaches of Negril, Montego Bay, Treasure Beach and many more, make Jamaica the ideal holiday location to indulge in Jerk cuisine. Native to Jamaica, jerk is a style of cooking in which meat is either dry rubbed or wet marinated with a hot spice known as Jamaican Jerk spice.
Traditionally, the smoky and spicy taste was achieved by cooking the meat over pimento wood or wood burning ovens but nowadays, spices including scallions, onions, allspice, scotch bonnet, peppers, cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, thyme, garlic, ginger, brown sugar and salt make up the jerk seasoning spice and the meat is cooked on an open charcoal fire. The meat is usually chicken or pork but since you’re in the Caribbean and the fish is plentiful why not try fish jerk too? And here, in its home land, jerk seasoning is the real thing!

Flying Fish & Cou Cou

 
Interestingly, one of the most popular destinations and a firm favourite in the area, Barbados, is not technically in the Caribbean Sea. The group of islands that Barbados belongs to, the Lesser Antilles, form the border between the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. Barbados, being the most easterly of all islands, is completely in the Atlantic Ocean but its heart is totally in the Caribbean and in our minds, it is also totally in the Caribbean.
We would like to introduce you to its national dish Flying Fish and Cou Cou. Native to Bajan waters, the flying fish is depicted on the nation’s coins, on the tourism authority’s logo and is the main element of its national dish. Cou Cou is a mixture of cornmeal and okra and is similar to polenta in texture. Steamed or fried flying fish accompanied by a spicy Bajan sauce made of onions, peppers, tomatoes, garlic, thyme and an array of different spices, and served with cou-cou is definitely the dish that represents this island and should be enjoyed while staying here.

Ropa Vieja

 
Apart from being a tropical beach paradise destination, the largest of the Caribbean islands is famous all around the world for its cigars, vintage American cars, stunning colonial architecture, salsa, mambo and the cha cha cha! Its capital city, Havana is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and its national dish has a story to it. 
Ropa Vieja started life in Spain and was imported to Cuba by the Spanish Conquistadors who colonised the island for centuries. Its name translates to “old clothes”. It is said that a poor man who could not afford to buy food, shredded his clothes, in desperation, placed them in a pot to cook for his family and started to pray. A miracle then happened and his clothes turned into a rich tasty stew. Ropa Vieja is a slow cooked shredded beef stew (representing the shredded clothes) cooked with peppers onions and spices and deliciously served with black beans and rice.

Salt Fish and Green Figs

 
Famous for its twin peaks that stand proud here and which are a UNESCO World Heritage Site, St Lucia is often referred to as the most beautiful island in the Caribbean Sea. With the Gros and Petit Pittons rising up to the sky, white sandy beaches, lush greenery and dramatic landscape, you can understand why. The national dish of this stunningly beautiful island is Salt Fish and Green Figs. There are no figs in this dish. Green Figs are what the locals call unripe bananas. The unripe bananas are boiled in water and the salt fish is then also boiled and sautéed with the cooked bananas, garlic, onions, peppers, tomatoes and various spices. The salt fish is usually cod but any other salt fish can be used in its place.  

La Bandera Dominica

 
Discovered by Christopher Columbus on his first voyage in 1492, the capital of the all inclusive holiday favourite Dominican Republic, Santo Domingo is the oldest European settlement in the Western Hemisphere and boasts some of the most exquisite colonial architecture. Not only do you have a wonderful choice of tropical sandy beaches at Punta Cana, Puerto Plata and Romana, the Dominican Republic’s landscape is the most diverse in the Caribbean with mountain ranges, including the Caribbean’s tallest peak at Pico Duarte, waterfalls, savannah, rainforests and tropical jungles inland.
This is the home of Merengue and the Dominicans are welcoming, friendly, enjoy getting together to celebrate life with good music, good food and good rum so why not tuck into the national dish here which is named after its flag and is eaten most often at home and served in most of its restaurants. La Bandera Dominica. This is made up of three main ingredients of white rice, red beans, and meat (usually chicken or beef) to which a variety of additional extras are added such as fried plantain, avocado, salad, and aubergine stew among others. 

Conchinita Pibil

 
Located just off the eastern coast of Mexico, in the Caribbean Sea, opposite Playa del Carmen, is the island of Cozumel. An island and municipality of Mexico. This Caribbean island paradise is still unspoilt and one of the best places for scuba diving and snorkelling thanks to its location next to the second largest coral reef in the world. Its interior is made up of lush tropical forests and its coastline is full of empty beaches with holiday resorts spread out all along the west coast. Being Mexican, you can experience all the wonderful culinary delights that this cuisine has to offer and we recommend you try out the Conchinita Pibil which is the dish of this region.
This is pork flavoured with achiote (a Mexican spice similar to paprika) and sour orange, wrapped in banana leaves and left to cook slowly in a pit in the ground. It is then served in tacos or tortas and is as delicious as you would expect it to be!
Which is your favourite when indulging on a Caribbean holiday? Let us know by leaving a comment below! 
 
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