Top 10 Best Foods in Aruba
Aruba is a country belonging to the Kingdom of the Netherlands located in the mid-south of the Caribbean Sea, about 30 kilometers north of the Venezuelan peninsula, Paraguaná.
The island has a rich history, heavily influenced by colonization and slavery. This has resulted in an ethnically mixed population with ties to more than 70 different nationalities.
The Indians, Spaniards, Dutch, African slaves and many other cultures all left their mark on the development of the island, and in the culinary field, too. Over time, a unique cuisine has emerged in Aruba: kushina krioyo or creole cuisine, a true mixture of all the different influences!
Many ingredients used in Aruban dishes are imported as there are very few farms on Aruba due to the tropical semi-arid climate. Some ingredients that are used very frequently in creole cuisine are cassava, Madame Jeanette pepper, tomato, cinnamon, mace, nutmeg, rice, onion, sugar cane, yam root, okra beans, red beans, black beans, kidney beans, peas, raisins, garlic, and coconut.
We will take you through creole cuisine and the many delicious foods it has to offer.
Pastechi is deep-fried (or sometimes oven-baked) dough pastry filled with cheese, ham and cheese, chicken, beef or other types of filling.
It’s an extremely popular snack that you can find on every street corner. Arubans eat it for breakfast or as a snack. It’s not unusual to see one of your Aruban colleagues show up to work with a paper bag covered with greasy spots from this delicious dough pastry.
So delicious, but it’s not something you should eat every day.
If you fancy offering these pastries for a party, it’s recommended to prepare them slightly smaller so you can enjoy them as a kind of finger food!
2. Carni Stoba
This dish takes some time to prepare, but it is definitely worth it! Carni stoba is a stew filled with beef, vegetables, and potatoes. A lot of spices go into this stew as well. The longer you let this concoction simmer, the bigger the smiles from the people you have prepared it for!
This dish is normally served with funchi, rice, or potatoes. Funchi is a side dish that is prepared by boiling water with salt and slowly adding corn flour. Remember the name of this dish, because it’s extremely important in Aruban cuisine!
3. Keshi Yena
This one is for all the cheese lovers out there! Keshi yena literally means ‘stuffed cheese’. The traditional dish is an oven dish with meat and cheese. Usually minced beef or chicken are used.
The dish has a quite remarkable origin. Keshi yena was first made during colonial times. The slave master would enjoy the whole inside of a cheese wheel and throw the leftover rind to the slaves. They had to resort to their imagination to make it into something nice and edible. And that is exactly what they did!
They used everything they had to fill up the crust, like pieces of meat, vegetables, herbs and spices, and topped it off with a sauce.
Nowadays, there is a different approach to keshi yena. Rather than a leftover rind, it is a casserole dish with slices of cheese.
4. Ponche Crema
If you’re in Aruba in December, make sure to try ponche crema! This cream-based liqueur originates from Venezuela and became popular in Aruba and other nearby islands like Trinidad and Tobago (called ponche de crème locally).
The main ingredients are milk, eggs, sugar, rum and other spices such as vanilla, nutmeg, cinnamon, and lemon rind. In Aruba, it’s made with Caribbean rum. So drinking this around the holidays will definitely get you in the Christmas spirit!
5. Galiña Stoba
Galiña stoba is a delicious Aruban stew with chicken and vegetables. Some people say it is the most commonly eaten dish on the island.
In this recipe, the chicken is stewed with vegetables and dried fruit. This makes the galiña stoba not only nice and spicy, but also a bit sweet!
Besides the chicken version, there are also versions made with beef or goat, and even banana and papaya. More than enough options to try!
6. Sopi di Pisca
Sopi di pisca is a fish soup that’s absolutely fantastic! It comes in many variations, most of them including different fish or seafood. We definitely recommend making it with fresh cod and shrimp. It is the perfect dish for a lazy Sunday!
7. Webo Yena
Webo yena literally means ‘stuffed eggs’ and are similar to deviled eggs.
This small and delicious finger food is very popular at parties or in snack boxes, when they are often accompanied by pastechis or empanadas, small tuna sandwiches, croquettes, and other small pastries.
8. Sopi di Carni
Sopi di carni means ‘meat soup’. It is a rich soup filled with vegetables and, you guessed it, beef! This dish is always seen as a big feast, because you will find large chunks of your favorite meat and vegetables that you can take out and eat with your hands.
You will find a beef soup in most cuisines, but this one is definitely unique. It normally includes local vegetables like sweet potato and pieces of corn on the cob. Yummy!
9. Pan Bati
Pan bati is a local bread that contains sorghum flour, wheat flour, and milk. When you see how flat it is, you will immediately understand why it’s called “smashed bread”.
You can also eat it as a pancake with sugar or syrup on top. If you eat this during dinner, you would have pan bati as a side dish.
10. Sopi di Pampoena
Sopi di pampoena is a pumpkin soup with salted beef or pig’s tail. If these meats don’t do anything for you, you can use shrimp.
This soup is given more flavor by using cinnamon and curry powder. Aruban locals will tell you that it’s best to prepare this soup a day before eating it, which allows all the flavors to combine well. A small note side note: sopi di pampoena is the perfect dish if you want few carbs!
There are countless dishes that haven’t been listed in this article. When you visit this very small island in the Caribbean, you will be surprised by the distinct local flavors that are offered in the vast number of fine-dining restaurants, snack spots, and cafes.
If you prefer to dress down, enjoy a night out and end it at one of the many local food trucks that Aruba has to offer. You haven’t lived until you’ve tried these delicious foods. We hope to see you soon on the One Happy Island!
Related: Most Popular Foods in Barbados