Caribbean Cuisine History;
The Caribbean Island are a chain of more than 7,000 islands, measuring 2,500 miles from the coast of Florida to Venezuela. The largest islands known as the West Indies are; Cuba, Jamaica, Puerto Rico and Hispaniola, which represents the Dominican Republic and Haiti.
Caribbean cooking is a combination of the cuisine from all the islands. Many distinct cultures have influenced and are associated with Caribbean cuisine. The oldest known is the Amerindians, which consist of the Carib and Arawak tribes from South America. They lived on these islands when Christopher Columbus arrived in America. The Amerindians farmed cassava, corn, sweet potatoes, garlic, tobacco and many varieties of peppers. European influences came from the Spanish in Cuba, Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico; the French in Haiti, St. Martin, Guadeloupe, St. Barths and Martinique; the British in the British Virgin Islands, Jamaica, Barbados, Grenada; and the Dutch in St. Maarten, Aruba and Curacao. African slaves introduced pigeon peas, beans, yams, okra, ackee, and taro. Also the indentured servants from India and China brought their original foods and cooking methods to these islands. The East Indians introduced yogurt, curries, spices, and ghee (clarified butter). The Chinese contributed rice, orange and their own cultural cooking methods.
Some island has spicier foods than others. Cuba, The Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico cook with mild bell peppers, while the rest of the Caribbean uses fiery peppers. In the Virgin Islands, Scotch Bonnet, Congo or Habanero peppers are widely used and are considered to be some of the hottest condiments in the world!
The combination of rice and beans is very popular throughout the Caribbean. In Cuba, black beans are served on top of rice. The beans in Jamaica are red, and the mixture is flavored with coconut milk. On some other islands, the rice and beans combination are seasoned with sweet peppers and tomatoes, bacon or hot peppers.
Riz djon-djon et le griot is rice and a type of lima bean from Haiti that is cooked in broth with dark mushrooms from Haitian highlands. In the British Virgin Islands, rice is combined with pigeon peas; a yellow pea-like seed that originally came from Africa Caribbean cuisine today has the influences of a diverse group of people. It is flavored with aromatic seasonings, tropical fruits, a vast variety of delectable seafood, exotic prepared meats and poultry dishes.