The Caribbean islands bear many similarities. One such similarity is the foods available on the islands. The preparation and processing of these foods bear a few differences. Many Caribbean people eat and enjoy foods from different non-Caribbean cultures. There is love for Chinese, Japanese and other Asian foods, Mexican, Mediterranean, European cuisine, and other cuisines.
However, many questions abound about the love or desire for food that is not native to people of differing Caribbean islands. For example: do many Jamaicans enjoy eating oil down from Grenada, or do Bajans like Peppe pot from Guyana? Or Do Barbadians enjoy eating Dominican food and vice versa?
Looking at these questions from cultural and social perspectives, share your thoughts with us.
Here are some enjoyable foods from a few Caribbean islands:
Barbadian cuisine includes a unique blend of foods with African, Indian and British influences.
The national dish of Barbados is cou-cou & flying fish. In addition to flying fish, many other varieties of fish are found in the waters surrounding Barbados, including kingfish, swordfish, red snapper, yellow-fin tuna, albacore tuna, marlin, shark and dolphin. Staples include sweet potato, yam, breadfruit, cassava, rice, English potato, pasta and cou-cou.
Other very popular dishes include fried fish cakes, curry beef or mutton, Grilled or fried prawns, saltfish in a spicy tomato sauce, chow mein, fish & chips, souse (a pickled pork dish), black pudding, macaroni pie, and sweet desserts such as tamarind balls and baked custard.
Dominica’s cuisine is similar to many other Caribbean islands including that of Trinidad and St Lucia. The cuisine is rooted in Creole techniques with local produce flavored by spices found on the island.
The new national dish of Dominica is callaloo soup which was a favorite of the African slaves and remains a favorite of Dominicans at large. It is a combination of leaves such as spinach or dasheen mixed in with seasonings, provisions, meat and coconut milk.
Dominica’s former national dish is the mountain chicken, which consists of the legs of a frog called the Crapaud, which is endemic to Dominica and Montserrat. Found at higher elevations, it’s a protected species and can only be caught between autumn and February.
Some of the popular Dominican foods include salted codfish and bakes (made by making a dough and frying in oil), fried chicken, cornmeal porridge, fried fish and plantains.
Popular meals include rice and peas, stew chicken, stew beef, fried and stewed fish and many different types of hearty fish broths and soups which are packed full with dumplings, carrots and ground provisions.
Meats and poultry typically eaten include chicken, beef, fish which are normally stewed with onions, carrots, garlic, ginger and herbs like thyme and using the browning method to create a rich dark sauce.
Grenada’s French colonists and African slaves brought along their culture to the island. The culinary aspects of these cultures are what your taste buds will enjoy among Grenadians. Indians have also influenced the island’s culinary trends in more recent years.
The most popular dish of Grenada is oil down (Its national dish) which is a combination of breadfruit, coconut milk, turmeric (misnamed saffron), dumplings, callaloo (taro leaves), and salted meat such as saltfish (cod), smoked herring or salt beef. It’s often cooked in a large pot commonly referred to by locals as a karhee, or curry pot.
Other popular foods include aloo pie, doubles, and dal puri served wrapped around a curry, commonly goat, and bakes and fish cakes, kurma, guava cheese, fudge or barfi, tamarind balls, rum, raisin ice cream, currant rolls, and Grenadian spice cake.
Guyanese culture reflects the influence of African, Indian, Amerindian, Chinese, Portuguese, British, Dutch and Spanish cultures.
Guyana is one of a few mainland territories of South America that is considered to be a part of the Caribbean region. Guyanese culture shares many commonalities with the cultures of islands in the West Indies.
Pepperpot is one of Guyana’s national dishes. Pepperpot is a stewed meat dish, strongly flavoured with cinnamon, cassareep (a special sauce made from the cassava root) and other basic ingredients, including Caribbean hot peppers.
Guyanese cuisine is very similar to the rest of the Anglo Caribbean. The food is diverse and includes dishes such as curry and roti, and cookup rice— a one pot meal – it is quite popular among the citizens. With its various versions, according to what type of meat, peas and other ingredients available, it is often enjoyed by others and Guyanese alike.
Some of the other popular dishes include cassava bread, stews, and metemgee (a thick rich type of soup with ground provision, coconut milk and large dumplings— duff), cheese rolls, pine (pineapple) tarts, and patties.
Curry is very widely used in Guyanese cuisine and is a favorite seasoning of chicken, seafood, goat, lamb, and even duck. Guyanese style chow mein is another dish that is cooked regularly in many homes.
Jamaican cuisine includes a mixture of cooking techniques, flavours, spices and influences from the Tainos (the indigenous people on the island of Jamaica), the Spanish, British, Africans, Indian, and Chinese who have inhabited the island. It is also influenced by the crops introduced into the island from tropical Southeast Asia.
Despite ackee’s unhappy origins as slave food, Jamaicans have reclaimed it as part of their national dish. A nutritious fruit with a buttery-nutty flavor, ackee resembles scrambled egg when boiled. Jamaicans sauté the boiled ackee with saltfish (salt-cured cod), onions, and tomatoes.
Jamaican cuisine includes various dishes from the different cultures brought to the island with the arrival of people from elsewhere. Other dishes are novel or a fusion of techniques and traditions. In addition to ingredients that are native to Jamaica, many foods have been introduced and are now grown locally. A wide variety of seafood, tropical fruits and meats are available
Favoured Jamaican dishes include curried goat, fried dumplings, stamp and go (fritters), ackee and saltfish (cod) — the national dish of Jamaica – fried plantain, rundown (dip and fall back), mackerel and banana, jerk chicken, jerk pork, steamed fish, steamed cabbage, and rice and peas (pigeon peas or kidney beans), escovitched fish, patty, stewed peas and rice, and oxtail stew.
Trinidad and Tobago
The cuisine is indicative of the blends of Indian, African, Creole, Amerindian, European, Chinese and Lebanese gastronomic influences. In Trinidad & Tobago its citizens have many tasty dishes to choose from. Trinidadians and Tobagonians all over the world enjoy and revel in the tastes of their native foods such as callaloo, bake & shark, doubles, pelau, curried crab & dumplings, oil down, pastelles, black cake, dhal puri roti, buss-up-shot Roti (paratha), murtanie (a.k.a. mother-in-law) and souse.
Trinidad and Tobago has one of the most diverse cuisines in the Caribbean and is known throughout the world. Trinidad and Tobago may have more national dishes than any other country.
By Karl A. Haughton