CARIBBEAN FOOD; ITS HISTORY, ORIGIN AND POPULARITY AROUND THE WORLD

The Caribbean cuisine consists of culinary influences from Africa, France, Spain, India, Dutch, America, Britain, and Asia. In these water-soaked, tropical countries, fresh fruits and vegetables make up a significant portion of the diet. Caribbean food includes all of your favorite’s seafood, chicken, and steak, prepared with the spices and colorful ingredients of the Islands.

The Arawak, Carib, and Taino “Indians” were the first dwellers in the Caribbean Islands. Their daily diet consists of vegetables and fruits such as papaya, yams, guavas, and cassava. The Taino began the process of preparing meat and fish in large clay pots. The Carib Indians introduced spices and lemon juice to their meat and fish recipes. The Caribbean Sea derived its name from the tribe because of the saying that they are the first to prepare the pepper pot stew.

The moment the Europeans brought in African slaves to the region, the Caribbean became the crossroads to the world. The slaves’ diet mostly is full of food the slave owners did not want to eat, so the slaves had to be inventive, and they blended their traditional African foods with staple foods found on the islands. The Africans introduced okra, callaloo, fish cakes, saltfish, ackee, pudding, and mangos, etc. Today, most Caribbean Island natives eat a diet that is of these main ingredients found in original African dishes.

After the end of slavery, the Europeans that went to India and China for labor introduced more culinary styles. The Chinese launched rice and mustard, and the early Portuguese sailors are responsible for adding the famous codfish. Spain brought in fruit trees like orange, ginger, plantains, figs, date palms, sugar cane, grapes, tamarinds and coconuts, and The Americas introduced beans, corn, squash, potatoes, tomatoes, and chilli pepper.

Food, therefore, is an essential aspect of many family traditions and Caribbean culture. At holidays and other special events, it is common for people to spend many days preparing food.

A favorite Caribbean dish is seasoned jerk chicken. This spicy cuisine is unique, but it is similar to Louisiana Creole chicken. Chicken, goat, and curry are favorite foods throughout the English influenced areas of the Caribbean, particularly Tobago, Trinidad, and Guyana. French cuisine is prevalent in the French-influenced areas of the Caribbean, for instance, Guadeloupe and Haiti. Rice served with beans, and different sauces is a staple food in the Caribbean as a whole. The fact is people in the West Indies refer to rice as “peas.”

A traditional goat stew is a national dish recognized in Montserrat and very popular in St. Nevis and Kitts. This famous stew consists of tomatoes, dumplings, green papaya, breadfruit, and goat meat. In the British Caribbean, a memorable meal is a pelau, a mixture of salt fish, beef, and chicken meat with rice, pigeon peas, and other vegetables. Callaloo, a prominent African influenced Caribbean dish, combines leafy greens with okra.

People living in the Spanish influenced regions of the Caribbean eat a lot of spicy and flavored foods. For example, Cuban and Puerto Rican people heavily spiced their cooking with garlic and lime. Cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg are other favorite seasonings used in the Spanish Caribbean.

Seafood is very popular in the Caribbean. Each Caribbean nation usually has a unique seafood cuisine. Shark, fish, lobster, and conch are familiar favorite dishes in different regions. For example, flying fish is a favorite dish in Barbados while fried shark and crab are famous in Tobago. West African influenced salt fish are famous throughout the Caribbean.

Rice is a staple food throughout the Caribbean, and each island has a particular rice dish. On some islands, rice is seasoned or served with coconut. Yellow and brown rice is served as a side on many Caribbean dishes.

In addition to rice, beans are a favorite food throughout the Caribbean. In Cuba, beans appear in many dishes. Beans are cooked and served in a variety of ways depending on the country. Excellent conch is in Belize as well as the Bahamas. A favorite way to prepare conch is to season it, coat it in batter, and then to deep fry it. This favorite food is known as fritters. Food served in the Caribbean islands has been influenced by the cultures of the world, but each island adds its unique flavor and culinary techniques. Caribbean culinary is most famous in the world because of its many influences from much staple foods of the world.