Caribbean Food - Traditions brought from various homelands
By Todd Sarouhan
Caribbean food is basically a fusion of African, Amerindian, French, Indian, and Spanish cuisine - traditions brought from the many homelands of these islands inhabitants. In addition, the population has cooked-up from this vast wealth of culture many styles and recipes that are unique to the Caribbean region.
Seafood is one of the most common Caribbean food types in the islands, though this is certainly due in part to their location. Each island will likely have its own special cuisine. Some prepare lobster, while others prefer certain types of fish. For example, the island of Barbados is known for its "flying fish".
Increasingly common dish on the area are seasoned meats, commonly chicken. With unique, spicy flavor, reminiscent of Louisiana Creole cuisine - curry goat and chicken are eaten throughout the Anglophone Caribbean islands, penetrating much further into the Caribbean than have the Indians who introduced them to the region over 150 years ago. Haitian cuisine, similar in its own right with the rest of the Caribbean, often employs fried goat meat along with chicken and duck.
Rice is a prime food eaten with various sauces and beans, but you'll find the rice on each island may be a little different--on some seasons, peas are added, on some, some other touches--like coconut. Sometimes the rice is yellow, but other times it is part of a dish. Though it comes in many forms, it is a common Caribbean food throughout the region.
The Caribbean Goat Water stew is the national dish of Montserrat and is also one of the signature dishes of St. Kitts and Nevis. It is a tomato-based stew, made with goat meat, breadfruit, green pawpaw (papaya), and dumplings (also known as "droppers"). Another popular dish in the is called "Cook-up", or Pelau, which combines chicken, pig tail, saltfish and vegetables with rice and pigeon peas. Callaloo is a soup-like dish containing leafy vegetables and okra amongst others, widely distributed in the Caribbean, with a distinctively mixed African and indigenous character.
Ginger beer is also common throughout the Caribbean Islands. It's a drink, flavored primarily with ginger, lemon and sugar. Ginger beer may be mixed with beer (usually a British ale of some sort) to make one type of shandy, and with Gosling's Black Seal rum to make a drink, originally from Bermuda, called a Dark 'N' Stormy. The soda version of ginger beer is the main ingredient in the Moscow Mule cocktail. Until today, the beverage is still brewed manually, though there are some that produce them industrially already. Such industrially made ginger beer is carbonated with pressurized carbon dioxide, does not contain alcohol, and is sold as a soft drink.
Roti, a round flat unleavened breads which traces its roots from India, features prominently in the diet of many Caribbean countries, especially Trinidad and Tobago. West Indian roti are primarily made from wheat flour, salt, and water. They are cooked on a tava. Certain rotis are also made with butter. There are several types of roti made in the West Indies including Sada Roti (the most popular breakfast option in Trinidad), Paratha Roti (made with butter and crisp outside) and Dalpuri (with a stuffing of ground yellow split peas, cumin, garlic, and pepper).
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Views expressed in the article are those of the author and are not necessarily the opinions of CaribbeanChoice, its staff or members.