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Picking Apart Caribbean Cuisine

You might think that the Caribbean has just one style of cooking, but that would be as ignorant an assumption as thinking that every European country has the same type of foods. The cuisine of the Caribbean varies from island to island and coast to coast; you must sample a variety of different types from each location to truly get the real feel for Caribbean cooking. One place in particular that you will not want to miss out on for some unique menu items is Belize. To get us started on this trip around the Caribbean Islands for some of the best foods the Tropic of Cancer has to offer, we’ll start off with this Latin American country:
 

caribbean food

Belize

You may need some adventurous taste buds to explore Belizean cuisine. Their food is a curious mix of all ethnicities living in Belize. A common breakfast is tortillas, beans, cheese, and eggs. For lunch, natives might eat stewed beans and rice with fried plantains, scrambled eggs, and a vegetable salad to top it off (pictured above). Tacos with fish, meat pies, or stew are also popular daytime meals.

One cultural dish of Belize is the Bile-Up aka the Boil-Up. This dish is a combination of boiled eggs, fish, and if so desired-a pig tail to top it off. This meal is served with other traditional Caribbean food such as plantains.

Saint Lucia

Thanks to the European invasion at Saint Lucia, here you will find a combination of French and British cooking if you follow a visitor guide. Traditional island food is full of flavors like mango, avocado, and salt fish. Most St. Lucia recipes mix European flair with the flavors and ingredients found in the Caribbean. You will find dishes spiced with coconut milk, cinnamon, garlic, allspice, and cloves.

What Saint Lucia is best known for is probably their delicious roti which is similar to Indian naan bread and filled with meats such as beef and spices. There are actually six different types of roti to try from the Caribbean:

  • Dhal Puri with lentis and meat
  • Paratha Roti which is brushed with oil, but left plain
  • Sada Roti
  • Dosti Roti
  • Aloo Roti made from mashed potatoes
  • Pepper Roti with plenty of hot peppers

Jamaica

Jamaica is known around the world for its relaxed attitude about life. The same attitude does not go toward their cooking, however. Jamaicans take their food seriously. A mix of Spanish, African, Indian, and Chinese can be found on the island. You will find dishes that include fried dumplings, cod fish, fried plantains, rice and kidney beans, and many delicious pastries. Here you will also find many tropical ingredients in most dishes including mango, pineapples, and avocado.

If there is one classic Jamaican dish you need to try, its jerk chicken or pork. To make this national dish, Scotch bonnet peppers, thyme, onions and scallions season the meat which is wrapped in pimento leaves and slowly cooked for as long as six to eight hours over a hot coal pit but a grill is just as suitable.

Dominica

Your tour of Caribbean foods would not be complete without the addition of Dominican foods. Here you will find the unique mix of Spanish, African, and Taino (native) cuisine. Popular dishes include eggs and fried plantains for breakfast, and for lunch; rice, beans, meat, and a salad. Dominica offers flavors not seen in other parts of the Caribbean, as the foods are less tropical and rely heavily on meats and starches.

A favorite dish, Mountain Chicken, is actually just fried frog legs with several seasonings (thyme, garlic, and pepper) and further cooked in thick gravy.

Virgin Islands

On the Virgin Islands, you’ll find a mix of spicy and hearty foods with a tropical flair. Strangely, many of the foods are imported. The locals prefer the taste of foods from lands afar. You will find many tropical-inspired dishes, but most of the ingredients will be imported from other lands. This leads to a mix of foods that many Europeans and Americans will find familiar, such as hamburgers, soups, and traditional meats and side dishes.

There are many different types of dishes to try from the Virgin Islands, but one you probably have never heard of is dumb bread, sugary bread that is often served with cheese.

As you can see, the foods eaten in the various Caribbean islands vary greatly from island to island, country to country. The experience of visiting each place and sampling traditional foods is a fun and exciting way to explore the history and culture of each unique location. Trying a variety of foods is one way to explore the beauty and magic that is the Caribbean islands.

 

Our guest author is Lindsey Mcmahon. She likes to travel, play and read in her free time.  Her interests are entertainment, traveling, parenting and health but she is constantly extending her field of view to incorporate interesting news suggested to her by her readers. If you like her writing, make sure to follow her on Twitter.