Some of the hottest food trends for the upcoming season come from a series of islands set like jewels in the Caribbean Sea. Caribbean cuisine is known for its unexpected flavor combinations, lively street vendors, spicy jerk and fruity notes to offset the heavier dishes. The fragrant spices and fresh foods of the islands are taking the mainland by storm: It’s no wonder that Caribbean cuisine has been named the one to watch in 2016.
The Caribbean islands comprise 30 sovereign states and territories and 700 islands, inlets, reefs and cays as well as the mainland countries of Suriname, French Guiana, and Belize. The area is richly diverse in plants and animals, and the people are diverse as well, with ancestors from Africa, the Americas, Portugal, India, France, the Netherlands, Denmark, Spain, Portugal, Britain and China. This melting pot of people and cultures has created a vibrant blend of flavors and foods that will tickle your taste buds with a vibrant mix of flavors and textures.
The most popular dishes are heavily influenced by indigenous, African and Amerindian influences and are often characterized by the use of rice, beans, spices, fruits, leafy greens and stewed meats. Don’t be surprised by the occasional goat meat dish and frequent use of seafood as well as the common use of lime, garlic, ginger and nutmeg to season dishes. Some of the less familiar foods include:
– Boniato, a type of sweet potato
– Calabaza, a sweet squash
– Jicama, a crunchy root vegetable
– Sorrel, a tangy herb used in sauces and drinks
– Soursop, a sour fruit
– Tamarind, a sour, pod-like fruit often used in sauces and curries
No longer do you have to settle for recipes that have been watered down for mainstream tastes. In fact, you can dive into authentic Caribbean cuisine with a spicy Jamaican jerk chicken served with cornbread fritters or meat pickled in lime, slow cooked and served alongside scotch bonnet peppers. Feast on curried crab meat from the French West Indies, or try chicken kabobs served with guava sauce and coconut shrimp, and finish your meal with a thick, cool slice of key lime pie.
Not only are those dining out looking for exotic new flavors, but nearly half of all shoppers are also looking for something new and interesting. Consumers across the board are becoming more adventurous and more discerning in their palate and are demanding more exciting and more diverse flavor options. Caribbean foods are right on trend and ideal for filling the demand for more flavorful ethnic foods.