Guest Author - Kimberly Joseph
One of the best ways to truly experience the culture of the Caribbean is to walk through the streets of our towns. Upon walking you’ll be sure to notice how laid-back our lifestyle really is. You’ll see venders selling an array of cultural items, such as whole and ground spices, hand woven wooden baskets, and most notably; food. Snacks, meals, sweets, fresh fruits, and drinks. Food plays a very strong role in defining Caribbean culture, as it illustrates the diversity that makes the Caribbean fascinating.
East Indian foods, such as rotis wrapped around a choice of curried lamb, goat, vegetables or soya, is an ubiquitous meal found in nearly all the islands. In Grenada and Trinidad, Doubles is a popular snack consisting of curried garbanzo beans sandwiched between two fried round breads, hence the name. Puerto Rico and Cuba have Spanish-influenced food; empanadas being a popular choice. Guadeloupe and Martinique are rich in French culture, having classic French food enriched with typical Caribbean ingredients such as Cassava and green bananas. African foods, due to the slave trade, like coo coo or fu fu are can be found with little effort. Homemade candies such as tamarind balls, guava cheese, and milk fudge or barfi are common sweets. Roasted corn, fresh slices of watermelon, and clusters of grapes bagged with crushed ice are street snacks found in just about every island.
On street corners, you’ll generally see a ‘Nuts man’ roasting and selling nuts in a small cart. Depending on the time of day, music will be playing, usually reggae, calypso, or soca. On wooden tables cinnamon sticks, whole nutmegs, turmeric, and spice blends in clear plastic are laid out and displayed for sale. The aroma of the many bakeries with freshly made breads and pastries fill the air, along with the smell of corn being roasted in the many food stalls. Its normal to see dogs walking on the side of the road, and sometimes goats. You may be surprised to see the many Syrian owned and operated shops lining the streets, but don’t be, because women walking the streets carrying a basket or bag on their head is quite a sight to behold.
The Caribbean is a multi cultural region, with a rich history. A great way to experience its diversity is to walk through the streets of the towns. A spectacle of the various cultures can be seen, and should you buy any food, you will get to savor that which makes the Caribbean so great.