A melting pot, or callaloo, of cultures; the Caribbean dishes out centuries of colonial past, assimilation and adaptations, manifested in its mouth-watering cuisine. Birthed from the ancestors preserving a fragment of home, the islands tastefully fuse traditionally mother-land recipes with the spices of the Caribbean, resulting in heavenly flavours unimagined. A stroll through the streets of the islands offers vibrant roadside food-stalls and huts, accompanied with long lines of locals strung on the irresistible scent of savoury street-side finger foods. Trotting from one island to the next, though the menu changes, you’re sure to savour something uniquely Caribbean. Grab a fork and let’s dig-in to four corners of Caribbean street foods!
1.Pudding and Souse, Barbados
Saturday mornings in Barbados forks over salty beaches with a tasty side of pudding and souse. Signaled on almost every corner, this traditional Bajan dish is a popular Saturday meal easily enjoyed across the island. Commonly prepared with pork and sweet potato, pudding and souse is a well-liked fusion dish of tasty pickled pig trotters and steamed sweet potato, though not necessary. Dating back to the days of slavery, pudding and souse is believed to be the product of pig scraps and the culinary innovation of the slaves. Though it may not sound very glamorous, it takes one forkful to convince why pudding and souse is Barbados’ savory Saturday lunchtime meal.
2.Doubles, Trinidad & Tobago
Trinidad and Tobago is a well-known hub for street-side dining, borrowing and blending recipes from its long line of ethnic groups. Today the East Indian community’s contribution to the island’s culinary landscape is widely celebrated and commonly consumed daily. Corners may change but the streets of Trinidad remain home to hundreds of vendors dishing out and wrapping up the world-famous roadside snack known as doubles. ‘Saucy, and sometimes spicy, curried chickpeas loosely held between two golden-brown fried dough pieces known as barra, arranged on a wax paper square’ perfectly describes this dish. Whether you like it spicy or sweet, the doubles man spoons out tamarind or pepper sauce, elevating an already tasty treat. Lined on his simple box cart under a tent or behind his van, you’d also find a series of spicy local chutneys and condiments for an extra explosion of flavour. There are many ways to enjoy doubles. You’re free to grab it to-go but some argue it’s best enjoyed hot on the spot!
3.Conch Fritters, Bahamas
As the surrounding prolific waters of the Bahamas provide, its people eat. Scoffed down on every corner and shore across the islands, is the crispy fried seafood dish known as conch fritters . The islands’ love affair with freshly caught seafood is reflected in its national infatuation with conch. Conch is in fact the national dish of the Bahamas! Tenderized, seasoned, and battered conch meat, deep fried to a crunchy golden brown perfection, served hot with a simple creamy sauce; conch fritters are the quintessential island delight. Sample these deep fried balls of scrumptious seafood pleasure as you indulge in the conchs of the Bahamas.
4.Pan Chicken, Jamaica
Well known for its jerk chicken or beef patties, Jamaica is brimming with culinary expeditions waiting to be devoured. However no trip to the island is complete without chomping down on its aromatic street-side pan chicken . Smoking meats over pimento wood is an adopted ‘jerking’ technique originally practiced by the island’s indigenous community. Similar to jerk chicken, pan chicken is smoked over pimento wood (or other wood coal), whipping up a distinctly smokey taste. However, pan chicken is roasted over a repurposed oil drum in comparison to the outdoor pits of jerk chicken. The results are long queues of locals and spellbound tourists with emptied pockets and stomachs at hand, sharpening their chops for a toothsome dish of pan chicken, supported by a slab of dough,all wrapped in foil. While these are just four corners explored, the Caribbean cooks up a bellyful of sizzling street foods that leave the biggest foodies stuffed but begging for more. Are you ready to dig in? There’s enough for everyone !