Caribbean cuisine is a fusion of African, Amerindian, French, Indian, and Spanish cuisine. These traditions were brought from the many homelands of this region’s population. In addition, the population has created from this vast wealth of tradition many styles that are unique to the region.
A typical dish and one increasingly common outside of the area is “jerk” seasoned meats, commonly chicken. It is a unique, spicy flavor, reminiscent of Louisiana Creole cuisine, but still quite distinct from it. 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, most notably in Trinidad and Tobago and Guyana. Haitian, Guadeloupean and other French Caribbean cuisine, is very similar in employing fried goat meat along with chicken and duck. Rice is a prime food eaten with various sauces and beans.
A local version of Caribbean 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”). Another popular dish in the Anglophone Caribbean is called “Cook-up”, or Pelau, a dish which combines variations of meats like chicken, beef, 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.
Meanwhile, the Spanish-speaking islands of the Caribbean tend to prefer more savory spices to these sharper flavors. Lime and garlic, for example, are more common on Cuba than pimento (or “allspice”). Other common flavors throughout the region include cinnamon and nutmeg.
Seafood is one of the most common cuisine types in the islands, though this is certainly due in part to their location. Each island will likely have its own specialty. Some prepare lobster, while others prefer certain types of fish. For example, the island of Barbados is known for its “flying fish,” while Trinidad and Tobago is known for its cascadura fish and crab.
Another Caribbean mainstay is rice, but 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. Though it comes in many forms, it is a common side dish throughout the region.