Ethnic And International Foods

Foods and Spices Native to the Caribbean

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"Foods and Spices Native to the Caribbean"
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Many of the food and spices that are now a part of your diet are native to the Caribbean. There are also other foods that you cannot get outside of the islands on which they grow. The easiest way to describe these foods and spices is to develop a mini-glossary so as to include all the possible information you need.

Ackee- Although this is an ornamental tree on most of the islands, in Jamacia, the fruit of the ackee plant is edible. The scientific name of this plant id bilghia sapida coming from the Name of Captain Bligh who introduced the plant to the island from West Africa. The ackee is poisonous if you eat it before it is fully ripened and you will know this when the pod opens on its own. The fruit is bright red and when it opens you will see three large black seeds. Ackee is yellow in color and is a popular breakfast fruit in Jamaica.

Annatto - This spice comes from seeds growing on a flowering tree in the West Indies. The seeds are ground to make the spice, which is yellow in color, due to the oil in which the natives store the seeds.

Arrowroot - This starch comes from the root of tubers that grow in the Caribbean.

Bay Rum - Bay leaves are very popular for adding flavor to soups and stews. The berry is often called the maleguetta pepper.

Beans - Red kidney beans, black beans, black-eyed peas, pigeon peas and green and yellow lentils are all grouped together as either peas of beans.

Breadfruit - This food was introduced to Jamaica from Tahiti and now is a Caribbean food. This is a large green fruit that is not edible until it is cooked. It is picked before it is fully ripe and is often baked, grilled, fried and roasted.

Callaloo - A spinach like vegetable, callaloo grows on Jamaica. The variety found in Jamaica is often called Chinese spinach or Indian kale. It is different from callaloo that grows in the eastern Caribbean, which comes from the leaves of the dasheen plant.

Carambola - Also called star fruit, this is a tart tasting fruit shaped like a star. It is sometimes used in desserts, but can also be used in salads or cooked with seafood.

Calabaza - This is West Indian pumpkin and is popular in stews and dishes containing vegetables.

Cassareep- This spice is used in making pepperpot. It comes from the juice of the grated root of the Cassava plant.

Cassava - A root with a tough outer brown skin and a white flesh inside. It has traditionally been used to make bread in the Caribbean islands.

Cherimoya - This fruit is pale green and feels like flan. It can be eaten raw when it is ripe or used in fruit sauces and desserts.

Chili peppers - Along with other countries of Central and South America, chili peppers grow on almost all Caribbean islands.

Christophine - This is a small vegetable shaped like a pear. The outer skin is light green or cream, but is very prickly. It does have a bland taste and is often used in sauces.

Coo-coo - This is the Caribbean version of grits made from cornmeal.

Dasheen - A root that is boiled or cut up to help thicken gravy and sauces.

Guava - A tropical fruit of which there are more than 100 different species. It has a perfumy scent and is used in making jams, jellies and a paste native to the islands called guava cheese.

Hearts of palm - The core of some varieties of palm trees. They are ivory in color.

Limes - Caribbean limes are light yellow when ripe, rather than green. When they are overripe, they are a dark yellow.

Lobster - Jamaican lobster is not the same texture as Maine lobster, but it does have more flavor.

Malanga - A root widely grown in the Caribbean.

Mamey Apple - Found primarily in New Worked, this tangerine colored fruit is used in making jam.

Nutmeg - Nutmeg is a spice that grows in the Caribbean and is widely used in cooking.

Papaya - Although native to South America, the papaya fruit does grow in Jamaica. When green, this fruit is used in making relishes, and when ripe it is eaten whole or in a salad.

Plantain - A vegetable that looks like a small banana. It can be eaten raw, grilledm fried or rolled in flour to make Roti - a Caribbean specialty food.

Stamp and Go - Spicy hot fritters that you will find on all the Caribbean islands.

Star Apple - This fruit is native to Jamaica and the Greater Antilles. The outer skin is purple.

Stinking Toe - This is a pod that looks like a human tow. Although the outside does smell bad, the sugary inside can be eaten raw or used in making custard.

Sweetsop - This fruit is actually a collection of seeds.

Tamarind - Brown pods that contain a sweet and tangy pulp used as a flavoring agent.

Yucca - A vegetable that is about the same size as a turnip, it has a scaly outer skin. It is used in making breads and cakes.

More about this author: Frances Stanford

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