What to Eat When Traveling the Caribbean

One of the best things about visiting the Caribbean is the amazing variety of foods that are abundant, delicious and quite often growing in the back yard.

Caribbean recipes combine African, Amerindian, French, East Indian, and Spanish styles of cooking. These traditions are a reflection of the early settlers of the region. Ingredients which are common in most islands’ dishes are rice, plantains, beans, cassava, cilantro, bell peppers, chick peas, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, coconut, and any of various meats that are locally available (beef, poultry, pork or fish) as well as curries.  Caribbean recipes are often filled with a large variety of spices, as many of the world’s best spices are found growing naturally in the Caribbean.

Rice is the staple of a Caribbean meal and isn’t complete without a generous helping. It is eaten with a variety of sauces and beans. You’ll find the rice on each island may be a little different. Some season their rice, or add peas and other touches – like coconut. Sometimes the rice is yellow, but other times it is part of a dish.

The conch (pronounced “konk”) is a Caribbean food icon. This mollusk was once widely enjoyed, but in recent years  prices have soared, and oftentimes it is difficult to find.  There are an infinite number of ways it is prepared- boiled, fried, and put in stews, soups and fritters.

Jamaican , Haitian, Guadeloupean, and other French Caribbean islands enjoy goat meat. Goat water stew has been chosen as the official 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”).

Callaloo is a leaf vegetable, traditionally either amaranth (known by many local names including callaloo or bhaaji), taro or Xanthosoma. Both are known by many names including callaloo, coco, tannia, bhaaji, or dasheen.  This is a popular dish found on many Caribbean islands.

Jerk is perhaps one of the most recognized Caribbean foods.  This is a strong marinade made with cinnamon, thyme and coriander that is used to marinate meats.  It is often spicy made with local scotch bonnet peppers, but it can be done mild as well.

Seafood is one of the most common Caribbean recipe delicacies in the islands due in part to their geographic location. Each island will likely have its own specialty. Some prepare lobster, while others prefer certain types of fish. Barbados is known for its “flying fish,” while Trinidad and Tobago is known for its cascadura fish and crab.

Also, it wouldn’t be a trip to the Caribbean without sampling some of its’ rum and coffee.  Each island features their own rums and liqueurs and many boast premium Arabica coffees.  Also, one of the best ways to enjoy local fruits is to get a fruit smoothie.  Enjoy!

Captain Tim
Captain Tim

Captain Tim is the founder of Caribbean Trading Company in Puerto Rico. Many years ago Captain Tim was a normal everyday guy who decided to do what so many people only dream about. He moved to the Caribbean. Traveling throughout the islands, he has the joy of sharing this lifestyle and its flavors with the world.

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