What is Caribbean food, and what are the must-try dishes?

Anyone who has visited our resorts knows the Caribbean islands are home to some of the world’s most beautiful beaches, pristine waters and glorious sunshine, but that’s not all this slice of paradise is known for. The region is also famous for its food.

Traditional Caribbean food combines native fruits and vegetables such as papaya and cassava with African-imported okra, callaloo and ackee, European imported ginger, plantain and codfish, Asian imported rice and spices, and American imported beans, corn and squash. The region has a truly global gourmet offering and over generations, this eclectic mix of flavours have combined to create the Caribbean cuisine we know and love today: a fiery blend of exotic spices, fresh ingredients and local meats and fish.

Caribbean food has well and truly entered our culinary landscape. Caribbean restaurants serving curried goat and rice and peas are popping up across the UK and celebrity chefs such as Levi Roots continue to make waves on the foodie scene. However, there is so much more to this unique cuisine than these well-known dishes.

1. Jamaican Jerk

This tasty dish consists of meat - usually pork or chicken - marinated in a sizzling combination of scotch bonnet peppers, allspice, ginger, brown sugar and other herbs and spices. Served with roast sweet potato, breadfruit and festival, this intoxicating and popular Jamaican food can be enjoyed at many of our resorts. Head down to The Jerk Shack for a truly Caribbean dining experience and enjoy the sweet ‘n’ peppery aromas in our open-air and rustic eatery. This is one dish not to be missed!

Insider tip: Try your hand at making your very own Jamaican-style jerk chicken recipe at home!

2. Flying fish

The Caribbean has a dizzying array of seafood on offer, thanks to the tropical waters that surround the islands. From swordfish and marlin to lobster and conch, the options are plentiful, but no trip to the Caribbean is complete without trying flying fish. This Bajan delicacy can be found in some of our resorts – try it on pizza at Sandals Grande St Lucian – or, for a more authentic Caribbean food experience, head to Oistin’s Fish Fry in Barbados on a Friday night. Enjoy your meal while watching a live band or conversing with the local vendors. What could be more authentic than that?

3. Pepper Pot

This is one of those Caribbean meals that has universal appeal, and is a Christmas staple in the South American country of Guyana. Usually served as a stew or soup, this rich dish combines local veggies such as aubergine, okra and potatoes with tender meats in a spicy cassareep (cassava root) sauce. Sometimes dumplings are added to give it a thicker consistency, but it’s often said that no two pepperpot dishes are the same. Our very own take is the West Indies Pepper Pot Soup – think diced potato, callaloo, pimento and scotch bonnet pepper flavours – which is served at Eleanor’s restaurant located at Sandals Grande Antigua and Sandals South Coast.

4. Chocolate

When you think of West Indian food, chocolate may not be the first thing to come to mind. While the cocoa tree originates in Latin America, the Caribbean islands have the perfect weather conditions for cocoa to flourish. First introduced on the islands in the 17th century, chocolate production has seen a recent resurgence in popularity thanks to their “bean to bar” practices. What this means is that local farmers have full control over the production and sales of their chocolate. By trying Caribbean chocolate, you’re not only treating yourself to a taste sensation, but also helping the local economy.

Visitors to the Caribbean can get a taste of this process (and a taste of the delicious chocolate!) by visiting farms or local markets. In Grenada, for example, we offer an incredible culinary tour that culminates at the House of Chocolate where you can take an active role in chocolate production – and tasting! It’s also worth noting that our desserts and pastries served in Café de Paris are created using 100% Jamaican cocoa so there’s plenty of opportunities to try this local delicacy.

5. Rum

While not technically a food itself, a lot of Caribbean food recipes do include rum as an ingredient. From traditional rum cakes to tasty, rum glazed meats, there is ample opportunity to try rum inspired cooking in the Caribbean. Said to have been invented on the island of Barbados using a molasses leftover from sugarcane production, rum has become synonymous with Caribbean culture. Not only does rum represent “the spirit of the Caribbean”, but it is also one of our customers’ favourite premium liquors on offer at our resorts.

Insider tip: We've put together some of our favourite rum-based cocktail recipes for you to try making at home!

Whether you prefer a light or dark rum, or maybe even a spiced rum, there are so many options to choose from that you’re bound to leave the Caribbean with a new favourite drink. And our favourite? That one is easy. It’s got to be Appleton Estate Jamaica Rum.

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Max Morales

About Max Morales

Max is a writer based in Miami. He received a B.A in Political Science and is completing a M.S in Entrepreneurship, at the University of Florida. He loves reading, rock-climbing & doing yoga.

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