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Jul 2, 2008 02:20 PM

Caribbean Street Food?

I'm doing research for a freelance piece I've been assigned on Caribbean street foods. Having never been to the Caribbean, sadly, I don't really have great personal experience to draw from, and there is a real lack of information in writing (both cookbooks and articles on the internet) on the subject. So...anyone who can give me some informaiton on:

1. Typical street foods one might encouter while in the Caribbean (any of the islands are fine).
2. What's in 'em? What are the usual ingredients?
3. History? Where did these street food recipes come from?
4. Which ones are "must tries" and which might tourists want to avoid?

Any informaiton at all will be most helpful! Thank you all so much in advance.


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  1. Amy, What a great story Idea. Having to research it as you are is not so nice. Tell the editor to send you to an island for crying out does one research something like this w/o the experience? IMHO this is bogus for them to expect you to write about something so broad and vague . Having ranted enough on your crummy editor let me share a few ideas:

    ABC islands has a big South American influence. Arepas trucks are around. Also shakes called Batidas.They are made of fruit. Another hand food are pastechi's. These are flour turnovers filled with tuna, cheese or meats. We do not typically get food off the street and eat it walking around. We take food home.

    In the Eastern Caribbean ladies in the streets of Antigua sell plates of rice and chicken, blood pudding, roasted corn and peanuts. Few people walk around eating in my experience but take it away.

    I have been to most of the islands from the BVI's down to the Grenadines. Each island has their own cuisine and the topic is too broad to cover here..get to an island such as Grenada. They have a unique cuisine. Also Tobago or Trini.

    Happy eating..

    1 Reply
    1. re: luci


      Thank you for your reply, and for realizing that it is my editor, and not me, who expects that I write about a place I've never been! Believe me, I wish this publication had the money to send me there!

      Just for the record, I am also aware that this practice (in travel writing) of writing about places the authors have never been, is rampant and not a good one. So, I just want you to know (and others who might want to post and scold me for what I'm doing) that I am not writing this article for a guide, and the information I do give my readers will be more along the lines of what they might be able to discover for themselves by doing a little library research or by posting to one of these forums. I will just be the one who compiles all the info and puts it in one place for them to take in.

      Thank you again for the wonderful information. I truly, truly appreciate it!

    2. Trinidad & Tobago--doubles- West Indian food--peanut punch, chips with ketchup,mustard and hot sauce, fish burgers with the same accompanying sauces, fried chicken and chips,corn soup with dumplings, souse-to start--

      1. When I was in St. Lucia, johnnycakes were big there. Banana ketchup is a big condiment there too.

        1 Reply
        1. re: lawgirl3278

          Johnny cakes are big during beach parties such as Race Week in Antigua. Also Saltfish cakes.

        2. This is more beach food than street food, but the jerk stands at Boston Beach in Portland Parish have the very best jerk on the island of Jamaica. The seasoning is complex (don't forget to pick up a bottle) and its the only really spicy food my kids would eat when they were younger. We always get chicken (tho jerk fish and pork are available) with roasted bread fruit, cold Red Stripe beer (Ting grapefruit soda for the kids) and walk a couple of yards to that beautiful beach. A finer meal you will not find--anywhere.

          1. Puerto Rico- typical street foods. Pinchos (kebobs of skewered pork or chicken) Then there's the whole fried variety. pastelillos Fried flour pastries stuffed with meats or fish, which I believe exist in other variations elsewhere-like the beef pattie in jamaica. With pastelillos the typical is made with ground beef. Actually ground beef is pretty much a staple in this "fritura"(fried food) category. There's the rellenos, fried potatoball stuffed with meat. the alcapuria, sort of a ground plaintain croquette filled with meat. There are also arepas in PR but these are fried as well...then stuffed with seafood salad if one likes. And I can't leave out the bacalaito which is best described as a fried dough that has salt cod fish in it. people definitely eat all of these on the street, on the run, each little tasty treat wrapped in a napkin in one hand with a cold can of medalla (local beer) in the other. These foods can be found on the side of just about any busy street, but also typically in kiosks, often near the beach. In Pinones (a place known for these) they still fry these in huge pots over firewood. I'm not sure, but I think these foods may be the influence from our African Heritage. But don't know. All of them are good, if they haven't been sitting under heat lamps for too long. The bacalaito especially have only when made to order or it gets a rubbery concistancy.