Caribbean foods and spices are a blend of gastronomy drawn from different countries and regions strewn all over the world. The Africans, American Indians, Asians, and Europeans have contributed to these distinctive tastes and flavors resulting in the rich ingredients and seasonings that are used. Caribbean cuisine has developed over time due to the influence of the explorers and colonialists who discovered these islands on their voyages in the Pacific and Atlantic oceans.

The islands of the Caribbean are naturally endowed with fruits and vegetables such as papaya, cassava and guava berries. Traditional meats and sea foods compliment this selection of foods, but, the difference is in its preparation. Cassava is the base food in their diet and is prepared in a number of ways like frying, baking or boiling to produce casareep, tapioca or bread. Other typical ingredients are coconut, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, bell peppers, cilantro, plantains and rice.

Jerking is a method used to prepare the chicken and a variety of other meats. Sweet and sour taste combine in a meal by grilling the meat slowly while applying a variety of spices, including brown sugar or molasses as well as lime pepper and service. Seasonings including curry powder and nutmeg are added to produce the hot flavor that is common with this cuisine. Fish and pork are supplemented by condiments like pimento, thyme, scallions and onions.

Caribbean natives are known for preparing thick stews and use arrowroot that is rich in starch for this purpose. Okra, a pod fruit that has its origin in West Africa, is an alternative where as ackee together with saltfish finds its way to the breakfast table as the basic dish.

Curries are very popular among the local populace. The main ingredient in the recipe is beans. There are many varieties used, including black-eyed peas, Kidney beans and lentils. Papaya, Potatoes and yams are also used having their origins from the Americas, Europe and Asia.

Another popular meal is roti which has its origins in India but is prepared by adding stuffing like goat or chicken as well as potatoes, pepper, garlic, cumin and ground yellow split peas. It is grilled or baked after being coated with a little oil.

Callaloo is a meal comprising of mixed and leafy vegetables such as dasheen and amarynth as well as the occasional okra. Other ingredients include parsley, thyme, scallions, garlic and scotch bonnet peppers. It becomes a main dish if breadfruit, potato, ham, lobster or crab is added.

Citrus fruits form an integral part of the local cookery. Fruits such as oranges, limes, figs and dates originated from the Mediterranean.

During special occasions, pudding is served in the form of Black cake, a derivative of the original from England.

Over and above having its roots from different parts of the world, Caribbean food is among the most delicious foods on earth because of the fusion of recipes that is used in its preparation. It has a distinct taste and aroma that leaves many food enthusiasts asking for more!

Andrew dekannwari African chef & food design specialist. specializing in afro-Caribbean food owner of the cultural catering company based in St Helens northwest England.

Image: @kingcheftd
via: Cultural Catering Company