White-sand beaches lined with palm trees gently rustling in the wind. Lashings of rum. Lush mountainous interiors overlooking vibrant colonial cities. Caribbean countries have a lot to recommend them as holiday destinations. Another – huge – perk for us are the foods these nations offer. From jerk chicken in Jamaica to Cuban sandwiches in Cuba and conch fritters in the Bahamas, the Caribbean is positively overflowing with delicious things to put in your mouth. Time to loosen your belts…
The mere sound of this Jamaican staple sizzling has our tummies rumbling. A spicy, flavour-packed rub is used to coat smoked or grilled chicken (and sometimes other meats), and will leave you wanting seconds. Though recipes vary, chilli peppers and pimento usually feature heavily – ingredients available to slaves who escaped to the mountains after Britain invaded the formerly Spanish colony.
Coucou and Flying Fish
Barbados‘ national dish is a relatively simple affair on paper: freshly caught, battered and fried flying fish and coucou, which is a cornmeal and okra concoction, similar to grits or polenta. It’s the Bajan seasoning, lime juice, herbs and spices that elevate this dish, taking it from fish and carbs to something unique.
The small amount of meat yielded from conch shells may be the reason these fritters are bite-sized – but we think these Bahamian morsels make pretty great appetisers – or main meals when served with salad or rice. The best ones have a lightly spiced batter and are served with a peppery dipping sauce.
Thanks to the waves of colonisers and migrants to Trinidad and Tobago, its cuisine has a truly unusual blend of African, American, British, Creole, French, Indian and Spanish influences – phew! One of the best foods spurned from this melting pot is aloo pie – like a spiced potato samosa. It’s often served with mango chutney, and is almost the very definition of a comfort food.
Despite the fact that Puerto Rico is a US territory, it has a cuisine all of its own, influenced not only by the food of the States but also Spain, Africa, Japan and China, as well as the indigenous Tainos people. One of the island’s most popular dishes is mofongo, a moreish meal of fried plantains mashed with salt, garlic and oil with pork crackling or bacon pieces, and served with seafood or other meats, and a savoury sauce.
Perhaps one of the most recognisable and frequently emulated foods on this list, the Cuban sandwich’s influence has stretched way beyond the island’s Caribbean shores – most notably to Florida, where many Cuban immigrants ended up. Consisting of thick slices of bread sandwiching yellow mustard, roast pork, glazed ham, Swiss cheese and sliced dill pickles, it’s hearty and easy to carry with you as you journey around the island!