An Introduction to Caribbean Cuisine

An Introduction to Caribbean Cuisine

If you’ll be planning a trip to any of the many tropical Caribbean islands, you’re in for an amazing time. These islands celebrate a wealth of history, heritage and culture. From song and dance to historic locations and more, you’ll find you have an incredible diversity of things to enjoy. One of those you’ll certainly not want to miss is Caribbean cuisine. The Caribbean islands are home to a broad swathe of food types, and exploring those options is a culinary dream come true.

Fusion Is the Rule

While for most areas of the world, fusion cuisine is the exception, in the Caribbean islands, it’s pretty much the rule. Most dishes, even traditional regional dishes, feature a combination of different elements that highlight the various cultures that came together in that region. Throughout the Caribbean, you’ll find African, East Indian, Amerindian, Arab and Chinese influences. Some elements can be traced back to the country of origin. For instance, curry features heavily in the cuisine for some islands, which can be traced directly back to India. Other dishes are unique to specific regions despite their various cultural influences.

Common Ingredients

While the way ingredients are combined to make regional dishes vary considerably, there are some relatively common ingredients used throughout the Caribbean. These ingredients mirror the different cultures that brought them to the Caribbean islands. Some of the most common ingredients used throughout the Caribbean include:

  • Goat meat
  • Chickpeas
  • Plantains
  • Seafood
  • Coconut
  • Rice
  • Beans
  • Cassava
  • Bell peppers
  • Tomatoes
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Chicken
  • Beef
  • Pork
  • Okra

Each nation has its own specific dishes. For instance, Montserrat’s national dish is goat stew. In the US Virgin Islands, fungi (fun-gee) is a good example of a regional dish. It combines boiled cornmeal and okra, and is usually eaten with fish.

Seafood is prevalent in all areas of the Caribbean, as it is the most abundant and easily sourced. Fish, shellfish, shrimp and more can be found in all regional cuisines. Fresh fruit also plays an important role, and you’ll find familiar fruits as well as more exotic options like papaya, tamarind, gooseberries and sugar apples available. If you want to experience fresh local fruits and vegetables, visit one of the open-air markets that dot the US Virgin Islands. Most supermarkets carry imported foods rather than local fare.

Any trip to the Caribbean offers the chance to indulge your taste buds with some spectacular, unique foods. Make sure you check back for real local recipes!

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Nishant Khiani
Co-Founder, CaribbaConnect
| General Caribbean