There’s an incredibly rich mix of culture to be found in the Caribbean—take Barbados, the birthplace of Calypso music, or Puerto Rico’s famous rum and original drink the piña colada. There’s one thing, however, that music enthusiasts, history buffs and cocktail sippers can all get behind: traditional Caribbean meals. Food embodies a nation’s very culture and essence, and it is a window into each island’s reality. After all, food is an adventure.
From Puerto Rico to Barbados, here’s more about the customary Caribbean recipes you’ll want to taste — and the cruises that can take you to them:
Barbados: Cou Cou & Flying Fish
Cou cou, served with flying fish, is the national dish of Barbados—and one you won’t soon forget. Somewhat similar to polenta or grits, it’s made with cornmeal and okra. The recipe requires constant stirring to make sure the cou cou has a smooth consistency, and it’s then topped with the flying fish, a national symbol that can be seen on the country’s coat of arms. Complete with a sauce or gravy made of Barbadian spices, this hearty and delicious meal is an authentic taste of Barbadian culture.
Chart your course for Barbados, and try this delicacy for yourself.
The Bahamas: Spiny Lobster
Different than its northern cousins, the spiny lobster lives in warm, Bahamian waters and has no claws, since the spikes on its shell offer protection. Under its shell, it has a soft texture and delicate, sweet flavor, so it’s perfect for grilling with herb butter for dishes like a curry or cheese grits. It’s a must-try and a way to get a taste for Bahamian culture, as our Adventurist Shay Mitchell did when she explored The Bahamas.
Puerto Rico: Mofongo
The most popular (and by many accounts, most loved) Puerto Rican dish, mofongo, is packed with flavor: It’s made from not-yet-sweet, fried plantains mashed with garlic, pork rinds, salt and oil in a wooden mortar. The mash is then shaped into a ball that’s perfect to absorb the signature creamy broth around it—usually including a rich mixture of garlic and olive oil with chicken, veggies, beef or even octopus.
Jamaica: Jerk Chicken
One of the most popular Caribbean dishes, jerk chicken from Jamaica is very much worth a try to ensure the most authentic flavor. The meat is dry-rubbed or marinated with allspice (or pimento, as Jamaicans call it) along with scotch bonnet peppers—which really bring the heat!
Back in the day, locals first cooked the chicken (or pork) over a smoking wood fire. Now it’s made in wood-burning stoves or large drums called “jerk pans,” ensuring the meat picks up plenty of that smoky flavor.
Ready to head down to the Caribbean and sample the local fare? The perfect cruise to take you on a culinary adventure is waiting here.