One of the best ways to experience the Western Caribbean islands is to eat like the locals do. Each destination serves up their own brand of Caribbean inspired street food. We've assembled some favourite local dishes everyone needs to try while travelling through the Western Caribbean.
A Baleada in Roatan
Try a Baleada in Roatan. The baleada is essentially a stuffed taco-like snack made with a thick flour tortilla as opposed to the thin corn tortillas of Mexico. The basic baleada is filled with mashed, fried beans, cheese and sour cream. Live like a local and add scrambled eggs to the mix. Or take it a step further and add meat or vegetables to the dish. Favourite choices include sausage, plantains, avocado, chicken and pork. The more you add the messier it gets.
A Spicy Pupusa in Belize
In Belize, eat like the locals do, and snack on a pupusa on your way to the sights. A transplant from El Salvador, the pupusa is just as celebrated in Belize as it is in their neighbour to the south. The pupusa is a thick corn pancake filled with cheese alone, cheese and beans, or cheese and meat. The snack is typically served with curtido, a slightly fermented cabbage slaw with red chilis and vinegar. Add more chili to turn up the heat.
An Authentic Corn Tortilla Taco in Mexico
It's impossible to separate Mexico from the taco, and Mexican street tacos are the best. An authentic Mexican taco doesn't have the crunchy corn shell that is common in America and is almost never filled with ground beef. The authentic Mexican taco is always served on soft, small corn tortillas and filled with a variety of delicious meats. Try tacos al pastor, a filling of pork slow roasted on a spit and flavoured with pineapple. Another Mexican favourite is a Mayan recipe, cochinita pibil, the Mexican version of barbecue, pork marinated in orange juice and other spices and smoked inside a banana leaf, served with pickled onions. Other recommended taco fillings include pollo, carne asada, carnitas and pescado. Wash it down with a cold Sol, the local Mexican beer, or sweet horchata, a refreshing rice milk drink flavoured with vanilla and cinnamon. Now you're authentic.
A Classic Conch Salad in the Bahamas
Throughout the Bahamas, the conch salad is ubiquitous. The traditional Bahamas dish is a satisfying blend of fresh conch, and vegetables like green pepper, tomato and cucumber. The salad is seasoned with habanero chili, and orange, lemon and lime juice. The Bahamian blend of ingredients makes all the difference. Don't be afraid to enjoy the conch salad like a local...on the go.
A Patty Pastry in Jamaica
Jamaica's favourite street food is the patty, a holdover from the island's British colonial past. The patty (pronounced potty) is a flaky pastry filled with ground beef a local favourite tens of thousands of pattys are made and eaten up daily by hungry Jamaicans. The dish is a culinary fusion of the different cultures that came together to build the island nation. The pastry is akin to the Cornish pasty from Britain, curry seasonings were brought to Jamaica by indentured servants from India, and the cayenne pepper was introduced by African slaves. You might say the patty is a national treasure. You haven't been to Jamaica until you've tried one.
Jerk Chicken in the Cayman Islands
We might associate jerk chicken with Jamaica, but the famous dish is just as prevalent and celebrated in the Cayman Islands. The best jerk chicken is undoubtedly found being grilled in large metal drums in tin shacks by the side of the road. When in doubt, follow the locals. The spicy chicken is seasoned with scotch bonnet pepper and allspice and is usually served with a slice of white bread. We recommend having a cold drink on standby, the jerk chicken is known to bring the heat.
Now you're eating like a local. Bon Appetit!