The ultimate guide to local favorites of the sun-kissed Caribbean
To truly experience a destination, you need to taste its local delicacies while immersed in its most memorable settings. In the Caribbean, this means seeking out regional specialties while you're strolling along golden beaches and alongside turquoise waters (it's a tough job, but someone has to do it!). Here are seven delights to try on your next Seabourn voyage, ranging from beachside eats to sweet treats and everything in between.
Flying fish and cou cou — Barbados
Barbados is home to the oldest continually existing rum distillery in the Caribbean, Mount Gay Rum, dating back to 1703, making a rum punch is de rigueur when you're visiting the island. But what to eat while you sip? Flying fish and cou cou! Almost as ubiquitous here as rum, the tender whitefish with the funny name is served as either pan-fried or steamed fillets. It's traditionally eaten with cou cou, a cornmeal dish similar in texture to polenta and cooked with okra and topped with a Creole sauce of tomatoes, onions and peppers.
Grilled Lobster — British Virgin Islands
Tasty crustaceans and beachside dining are a pairing that seems custom-made made for a tropical vacation. Although you can find lobster throughout the Caribbean, the British Virgin Islands are especially well known for their abundant lobster pot hauls, with the low-lying northernmost island, Anegada, an especially rich source of the prized dining delight. You can expect to see the daily fresh catch served in preparations ranging from lobster tacos to warm lobster salad and even lobster omelets for breakfast, but for the best beachside preparation, it's hard to beat a grilled lobster. Split down the center, topped with fresh herbs and lots of butter, hot off the coals, served within a few feet of the sand and surf, it doesn't get any fresher, or tastier, than this.
Mangú — Dominica
Local Dominican cuisine is centered around two principles: fresh ingredients and French-influenced Creole creativity. You'll especially see this in the multiple preparations of the plantain. Tostones (twice fried plantains) and plantain chips with mango chutney are two popular options, but the one you'll see most frequently is the unique to Dominica mangú. This plantain mash is usually served at breakfast – picture a tropical take on grits –as part of a typical morning dish called los tres golpes (the "three hits") alongside salami, cheese, and eggs. Sample all of these and more on a Taste of Dominica excursion.
Nutmeg Ice Cream — Grenada
If you have even the slightest hint of a sweet tooth, there's nothing better than a decadently creamy, cold scoop of ice cream on a warm Caribbean day. Even better, though, is a version created with the best locally sourced ingredients. And on the Spice Island of Grenada, that means nutmeg infused frozen treats made with the island's famed fragrant crop. Reminiscent of a holiday eggnog turned into a summer treat, the spice-flecked island specialty can be sampled at ice cream and sweet shops around the island. You may have to try several to decide which one is truly the best – which sounds like the perfect portside day to us.
Roti — Trinidad and Tobago
The flavors of the West Indies run deep in lovely Trinidad and its little sister Tobago, where a mix of traditional Indian seasonings meet up with island flat breads to create hand held delicious bites. Here, a roti is usually filled with a curried filling of chicken, shrimp, or goat and rolled up burrito style. If you see a beachside stand with a line of locals, stop and practice your "liming" (hanging out and chatting) while you wait. In addition to stuffed roti, you may also find "Buss Up Shut" – flaky, torn roti that resembles a "busted up shirt" served along with a curry to dip it into.
Conch and dumplings — St Maarten
It's hard to beat the dual-sided island of St Maarten/St Martin for delicious cuisine with its rich influences of French, Dutch, and Caribbean creating unique dining options throughout the island. It's hard to pass up the Gallic goodies on the French St Martin side---authentic baguettes, cheese and chocolate, and pastries all vie for attention along waterside streets. But for a unique "only here" dish, we head to the Dutch Sint Maarten side where conch and dumplings is the comfort food of choice. A rich conch stew flavored with a "trinity" of garlic, onion, and pepper forms the base for doughy dumpling delights that soak up the delicious mixture. It's served year-round, but is especially popular during carnival time.
Jerk chicken — Jamaica
Jamaica is famed for its warm hospitality and spectacular scenery. And when it comes to a taste of the island, it's hard to beat a tingling plate of jerk when you're enjoying the reggae rhythms, wide beaches, and friendly island atmosphere. True jerk – whether its chicken, pork, fish, or goat – is cooked over a pimento wood fire and is best enjoyed where you can still smell the smoke. Every chef has their own recipe, but expect the seasoning to contain a sweet, savory, and spicy blend of allspice, cloves, garlic, cinnamon, thyme, ginger, onion, and hot peppers.
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