Top 10 Most Popular Foods in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines are a group tropical islands with beautiful beaches and coral reefs where you can enjoy a fun and relaxing time.
The people are welcoming and easygoing and it has a rich culture intertwined with African heritage. You can’t help but sway to the music from the steel pan or the popular soca, bringing you immense pleasure.
Every Vincy person loves flavorful food, hence the variety of spices that are a must-have in every home. Food is a massive part of our culture, reflecting our history.
You always find spices such as nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger, saffron, cardamom, and black pepper in the pantry. We also love to use herbs in our food. We call it green seasoning and it is commonly a blend of onions, ginger, green peppers, chili, cilantro, parsley, scallions, garlic, and lime juice. Every household has specific herbs they prefer for their green seasoning.
In Vincy, we eat a lot of “ground provisions”, or root vegetables, because they grow here in abundance. Another recurring ingredient is coconut. I mean, who doesn’t love coconut?
The aroma of roasted breadfruit is the norm in every home and even on the streets. Many people see breadfruit as a symbol of Saint Vincent because of its tie to the nation’s heritage. Years ago, slaves were fed breadfruit because it was a cheap food source. A breadfruit festival is celebrated annually in August and compliments the emancipation month, also in August.
Cheers to food packed with love, fun, lots of sunshine, and flavor…cheers to Vincy food. Here are some of the most popular foods found in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.
1. Roasted Breadfruit and Jackfish
This meal is a national favorite and the national dish of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. You can’t say you have been so Saint Vincent if you don’t eat a breadfruit meal.
Different Caribbean countries have their way of making breadfruit. Some boil it, others fry without roasting.
However, in Saint Vincent, the whole breadfruit is roasted on an open fire until the exterior is charred, but the inside is soft, taking the flavor up a notch. Then it is baked until tender and delicate.
The roasted breadfruit is served with fried Jackfish, marinated then coated with flour before being fried to give it that crispy, yummy goodness.
2. Salt Fish Buljol
Growing up, my family had this dish almost every Saturday. While doing chores, my siblings and I couldn’t wait to eat, so we would rush our chores and then hang around the kitchen. I get nostalgia whenever I reminisce about our childhood favorite. Now I definitely have to make some.
Salt fish buljol is made with a variety of salt fish, especially cod, and some stir-fried vegetables of choice. Saltfish tends to be very salty because it is preserved in salt.
This worked really well in the olden days when there were no refrigerators. Before flaking the fish, it is parboiled, changing the water at intervals to get rid of the excess salt. Some people prefer to soak it overnight, so you do whatever floats your boat. In Vincy, you can eat your saltfish buljol with root veggies such as green banana, dashin, yams, plantains, sweet potatoes or dumplings.
Fried bakes are one of my personal favorites. I make it like a sandwich and have it with coffee in the morning or even as a snack during the day.
If you have a sweet tooth, this may just become your new favorite meal. For many, it serves as comfort food during Christmas time, which is the best time as that is when you don’t have to worry about abandoning healthy eating, which is a regular practice.
Ducana is a sweet potato dish popular in the Caribbean islands. It is a dumpling traditionally prepared with sweet potatoes, corn meal or tannia, raisins, and a mix of spices such as nutmeg, ginger, and so on. The sweetness comes from the sweet potatoes, coconut, and sugar.
The sweet potatoes are grated or blended and the ingredients are mixed to form a dough, which is then steamed in banana leaves. Ducana can with eaten alone as a sweet treat or served with salt fish or steamed spinach.
4. Madongo Dumplings
These dumplings are made with arrowroot, making it unique to Saint Vincent since this technique is not found in other places.
The arrowroot is mixed with coconut and spices, chosen by preference. Nutmeg, ginger, and cinnamon or any combination are an excellent choice. The dumplings are either baked or fried.
5. Callaloo Soup
You know that meal you find at most functions, such as weddings and parties? Callaloo is a banger and it never disappoints. It is a regular crowd pleaser.
The soup is made with Callaloo leaves, meats, and a variety of root veggies. I like it with dumplings, sweet potatoes, dashin, yams, and cassava. To take the dish to the next level, we add coconut milk just before it is done cooking.
6. Fish Blaff
Here is a fun fact about fish blaff. Legend has it that the name blaff came from the sound that the fish makes when it is thrown into the broth. Funny right?
Anyways, fish blaff is marinated with lime, poached, and served with root vegetables, other veggies or rice. The broth of fish blaff usually contains wine and a mixture of different spices. The aroma alone is enough to make you drool and when you eat it, you won’t forget it in a hurry.
7. Banana Fritters
Banana fritters are the perfect choice for Vincy breakfast. However, don’t let anyone stop you from having it any other time as a snack. I definitely wouldn’t!
Bananas are easily accessible in Saint Vincent. Almost every household has a banana tree in their backyard and if you don’t have one, your neighbors do and it is okay to pluck them.
Banana fritters are easy to make and you have a treat in no time. The batter is made with ripe bananas, flour, sugar and any spices or flavorings of choice. The bananas are fried in hot oil, preferably in a nonstick pan.
Everyone loves a one-pot meal. Most Caribbean countries have their own variation of pelau, but the basics are the same. The dish is made with rice, pigeon peas, vegetables, coconut milk, chicken or pigtails, and fresh herbs.
The meat is browned with “burnt” sugar and then left to bring out its juices before adding more water to cook the rest of the ingredients.
Pelau is a staple dish in Saint Vincent and can be found at any local restaurant, though there is nothing like mama’s home-cooked pelau.
9. Pig’s Feet Souse
This dish is pig’s feet in a delicious liquid made with a blend of fresh herbs and peppers called green seasoning. Cucumbers are added at the end to retain their freshness and prevent them from overcooking.
The liquid has the zesty flavor of lime, which gives it a nice contrast. It’s perfect on cold nights or whenever you feel the need for some warm soup.
10. Stew Chicken/Beef
This is another staple dish in Saint Vincent served with rice and peas and garden salad or coleslaw. The chicken is marinated in green seasoning and a few spices such as paprika, all-purpose seasoning, etc, and then browned with brown sugar to make a flavorful gravy with vegetables.
You should definitely try to make some of these foods, if not all, or better still, visit Saint Vincent and experience our culture firsthand. I’m sure you’ll love it.
Related: Most Popular Foods in Barbados
Related: Most Popular Foods in St Lucia
Related: Most Popular Venezuelan Foods
Related: Most Popular Puerto Rican Foods