If you’ve never been to the Caribbean before, you might be tempted to think that every island offers pretty much the same thing. Don’t be tempted to think this way because it just simply isn’t true. Each island offers something unique, and this is especially true when it comes to the local cuisine. As an islander myself, I can tell you with certainty that no two islands will blend ingredients and flavors together in quite the same way.
To take the guess work out of what you should try, I’ve compiled a list of the most popular local dishes and beverages for you to indulge in whenever you visit the Caribbean.
Jamaicans eat lots of ground provisions and rice. Staples include green banana, sweet potato, yams, breadfruit and ackee. It never ceases to amaze me how every house (it seems) has a breadfruit tree and an ackee tree and yet at every corner there is someone selling these items. Don’t find it strange if a Jamaican offers you green banana, callaloo, sweet potato and salted cod for breakfast.
Ackee and Saltfish (National Dish)
Curried Goat & Rice
Traditional Jamaican breakfast
Mannish Water (Goat head soup)
Festival (similar to a fried muffin)
Red Stripe Beer
Fruit juice blended with ginger
Blue Mountain Coffee
Barbadian cuisine is heavily influenced by British and African fare. Breakfasts are traditional with eggs, toast, bacon, cereal etc. Barbadians love chicken, pork, lamb and fish. A typical Barbadian meal would be rice and peas, beef or lamb stew, macaroni pie and baked chicken. Favorite ingredients for flavoring include onions, sweet pepper, garlic, thyme, ginger etc.
Fish Cakes and Bakes
Cou Cou and Flying Fish (National Dish)
Sweet Potato Pudding and Souse (pork)
BBQ Pig Tails
Pineapple Sweet Potato Pie
Bul Jol (made with salted Cod fish)
Mauby (Drink made from tree bark)
Plus (Energy drink made from hops and barley)
Golden Apple Juice
Mount Gay Rum (World’s oldest rum brand)
Trinidad & Tobago
If I had to sum up the flavor of Trinidadian cooking in one word it would be Curry. Their cuisine is heavily influenced by Indian and Amerindian cooking and so even fruits like golden apple and mango get the curry treatment.
Doubles (Curried Chickpeas served in a fluffy, soft bread product)
Pelau (Rice, peas, meat, vegetables cooked together)
Crab & Callaloo (National Dish)
Shark N Bake Sandwich
Sea Moss Punch
Carib or Stag Beer
Other Caribbean Islands
This could easily be a never-ending post as there are so many good foods to eat in the Caribbean, but I’ll leave you with a few top dishes from some of the other islands.
Green Fig and Salted Cod Fish (National Dish)
Stewed Salted Cod Fish, Spicy Plantains, Seasoned Breadfruit & Coconut Dumplings (National Dish)
Oil-Down – a boiled down dish made with meat and plenty of vegetables and ground provisions. (National Dish)
Roasted Breadfruit & Fried Jack Fish (National Dish)
Rice & Peas with Pepper Pot (National Dish) – a hot, spicy stew made with various meats like pork, lamb and beef.
Antigua & Barbuda
Pepperpot and Fungee (National Dish)
Fried Mountain Chicken (Frog legs)
Colombo (Curried meat dish served with plantains)
Griot (marinated pork, boiled then fried or oven roasted) with Peas and Rice, Banan Peze (fried and smashed Plantain), and Picklies (marinated onions).
Sancocho – a soup made with vegetables, a variety of meats and ground provisions.
Ropa Vieja – shredded flank steak in a tomato based sauce served with rice.
Cracked Conch and Rice & peas
Rice and beans with Fish stew.