The beauty of the Caribbean is reflected in it’s food. Everyone who has ever been to the Caribbean knows and loves the cuisine of the Islands. The history that is built into the world of Caribbean food, offers a combination of flavours, textures and aromas that delight the senses and tickle the palette.
If you have made a trip to the Caribbean, then perhaps you are someone who is looking for Caribbean recipes that you can cook at home. If you are then you have probably searched for Internet for authentic Caribbean dishes such as Roti, Jamaican Jerk Chicken, or a nice plate of Flying Fish. Perhaps you are a regular visitor to your local Caribbean restaurant or you’ve tried to cook Island food at home using recipes you have managed to glean from a cook book or from the chef at your local Caribbean Takeaway.
It doesn’t really matter where or how, all that matters is that you enjoy the food that you are eating and that through the enjoyment of the authentic dishes you are getting a little slice of Caribbean life to make your world that little bit better.
Caribbean food is a fusion cooking from the various cultures that have inhabited the Caribbean islands over the past thousand years. The Islands original Indian peoples, the Arawaks, Caribs and Taino cooked using the fruits and vegetables of the Islands. As people from other regions of the world arrived, so the food culture changed. Enslaved Africans brought their cooking techniques and ate food that the European Colonizers and slave masters didn’t want.
Their ingenuity, combining the meat and vegetables with spices and herbs, slow cooking cuts that others didn’t want brought new flavours, and fantastic stews were born during this time. As slavery ended and Colonisers went to China and India to obtain indentured labourers. The Asian workers brought with them their cooking styles and added it to the melting pot that is Caribbean cooking.
If you are someone who enjoys Caribbean food, then why not try to cook some at home for yourself? What are the techniques you need to use? Well for starters, ensure that the meat, vegetables, herbs and spices you are using are fresh and of the best quality that you can find. Many Caribbean Islanders are within 30 miles of an agriculture producer so their produce is usually very fresh, there are very few Islands that don’t have some sort of agriculture or farming community.
One aspect of Caribbean cooking that is prevalent, especially with mean dishes is marinading. Meats are covered in herbs and spices, commonly referred to as seasoning and left to marinade for at least 2-3 hours before cooking. Many people leave their meats to marinade overnight in a refrigerator. This helps the meat to tenderise, as well as infusing it with the flavours of the spices and herbs, giving each dish it’s authentic flavour. You can always tell when you’re not eating authentic Caribbean food at a restaurant as the meat will be flavoursome on the surface but those flavours diminish as you bite deeper.
Unless you are frying the meat, it is usual for Caribbean meat to be slow cooked. This allows the seasonings to further penetrate the meat and for a good gravy base to develop. Steaming, boiling, stir frying are all techniques used in Caribbean cooking when it comes to vegetables. You may try roasting veg as well. Jamaicans, Barbadians and Trinidadians all enjoy eating roasted Yams, Corn and Breadfruit.
I hope this article has given you a little taste of the Caribbean and has even, possibly got you in the mood to try out some Caribbean recipes for yourself. As said before, Caribbean food is really a fusion style of cooking. The inhabitants of the Islands took what was available to them and created dishes that are still with us today.