Eating and drinking

As you might expect of islands, there is a wide variety of seafood  on offer which is fresh and tasty and served in a multitude of ways. Fish of all sorts, as well as lobster and conch, are commonly available and are usually better quality than local meat. Beef and lamb are often imported from the USA or Argentina, but goat, pork and chicken are produced locally. There is no dairy industry to speak of, so cheeses are also usually imported. There is, however, a riot of tropical fruit and vegetables and a visit to a local market will give you the opportunity to see unusual and often unidentifiable objects as well as more familiar items found in supermarkets in Europe and North America but with ten times the flavour.

The best bananas in the world are grown in the Caribbean on small farms either organically or, at least, using the minimum of chemicals. They are cheap and incredibly sweet and unlike anything you can buy at home. You will come across many of the wonderful tropical fruits in the form of juices or ice-cream. Don't miss the rich flavours of the soursop, the guava or the sapodilla. Mangoes in season drip off the trees and those that don't end up on your breakfast plate can be found squashed in abundance all over the roads. Caribbean oranges are often green when ripe, as there is no cold season to bring out the orange colour, and are meant for juicing not peeling. Portugals are like tangerines and easy to peel. Avocados are nearly always sold unripe, so wait several days before attempting to eat them. Avocado trees provide a surplus of fruit so you will be doing everyone a favour if you eat as many as possible. Many vegetables have their origins in the slave trade, brought over to provide a starchy diet for the slaves. The breadfruit, a common staple, rich in carbohydrates and vitamins A, B and C, was brought from the South Seas in 1793 by Captain Bligh, perhaps more famous for the mutiny on the Bounty. The slaves were needed for work in the sugar plantations and sugar cane is still grown on some islands today, often ending up as rum.

Restaurants
range from gourmet eateries to caf├ęs but all make the most of local ingredients. If you are economizing, find a local place and choose the daily special, which will give you a chance to try the typical food.
Fast food
is also available, but you will be better off going to a local place serving chicken and chips or burgers, rather than the international chains. Trinidad has some of the best food around, drawing on the cultures of its many immigrants: Indian, African, Chinese, Syrian, etc, and fast food there is almost an art form. The
roti
, a thin chapatti wrap filled with spicy or curried meat, fish or vegetables is hugely popular and its success has spread to many other islands. Each island has its own specialities and these are described in the following chapters.

This is edited copy from Footprint Handbooks. For comprehensive details (incl address, tel no, directions, opening times and prices) please refer to book or individual chapter PDF
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