Caribbean food offers an exciting range of flavors. Adding a Caribbean recipe to the dinner menu can be a great way to add variety to a meal. Familiarity with common terms can make it easy to find ingredients and plan an island inspired meal.
Callaloo - Called calaloo or kallaloo. This dish has a healthy base of leafy greens. Greens may come from a variety of sources, including amaranth or taro plants. In some regions, coconut milk and other vegetables may be added to the spiced leaves.
Pelau - Also called cook-up. This dish is made of several types of meats with some combination of rice, vegetables, and pigeon peas. This dish is common on Caribbean menus.
Asopao - A type of soupy stew. It is made with chicken, seafood or other meat, rice, tomato, onion, pepper, and other vegetables and spices. This term can also be used to describe anything that is soupy.
Jamaican Jerk Spice - A very popular combination of spices. It is typically used on meats, such as chicken, pork, or beef. Vegetarians can use jerk spice on tofu or meat substitutes. The primary spices are allspice and Scotch bonnet pepper, though several others may be added as well. Jerk spice is a traditional ingredient in many recipes.
Black Cake - A dessert item based loosely off of English plum pudding. It is a type of fruitcake. In the Caribbean interpretation of this dessert, plums or raisins are soaked in rum. Soaking the fruit in alcohol makes this food safe and easy to store over long periods of time.
Caribbean food is as interesting as the region that offers this cuisine. From the 1500s to the 1900s, the Caribbean region saw an influx of immigration that included a diverse population of people from a variety of countries. Due to the vast diversity of these cultural influxes, Caribbean dining became a fusion of these many traditions and influences. You don't have to embark upon a tropical vacation to enjoy a Caribbean dish.
Restaurants featuring authentic food from the Caribbean, are becoming increasingly popular. Many mainstream menus include Caribbean influenced food, such as Jamaican jerk chicken, seafood or black bean soup. Naturally, fish is also a popular item that is usually grilled and served with rice. Many establishments offer jerk as an option for the preparation of beef, pork and chicken alongside grilled and fried.
Traditional restaurants that serve recipes reflecting authentic food are becoming more readily available as well. Often, owners of these Jamaican or Caribbean themed eateries are native to the islands. They incorporate traditional and authentic recipes prepared by their ancestors in their food preparation. Consumers now commonly enjoy a Caribbean catfish meal as often as they choose pizza or other cultural offerings, like African or French food.
Caribbean meals feature influences from many people and groups who have lived there, but also from the original Indians who were indigenous to the islands. Much of the family and social life centers around the preparation of food. Often, food preparation is days in the making, especially when readying for holidays or festivals. These occasions call for the cooking of special treats and cultural delights.