Creole is the foundation of St. Lucia's culinary style, a result of early French colonization of the island. Today, a variety of international influences, such as British, Indian, and Amerindian, combine to create palatable options for hungry visitors that are so well-loved the island has been voted as one of the top ten in the Caribbean for food by Conde Nast.
Although the British took control of St. Lucia in 1814, the French influence on the island's cuisine has prevailed. African influences can also be seen in tomato-based sauces combined with spices, starch, and clever garnishing. A local chef's spice rack is sure to include thyme, ginger, clove, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Onions, peppers, garlic, and lime are also popular savory seasonings. Almost every local table sports a jar of hot pepper sauce. Another unique condiment is banana ketchup, a mixture of banana, herbs, and spices. Be sure to try pepperpot soup, full of beef, spice, and callaloo, a leaf resembling spinach. Pig's tails and boudin, or blood sausage, are also enjoyed in stews.
...tropical love apple is a sweet fruit...
Local ingredients take center stage in the island's dishes. Fresh fish, vegetables, and fruit are bountiful in the fields and waters of St. Lucia. A fruit called sweet sop, or sugar apple, has creamy white flesh with a taste and texture reminiscent of custard. Soursop is in the same family as sweet sop. Bwapen, also known as breadfruit, is a large fruit that is boiled or fried and eaten regularly by locals. The beans of the tamarind tree are used in relishes and beverages. The tropical love apple is a sweet fruit that should be part of every couple's picnic basket.
The national dish of St. Lucia is saltfish and green fig. Early slaves discovered that saltfish was a good source of protein. This dish of fried saltfish and cooked banana, however, may not immediately appeal to many visiting taste buds. Other popular fish include tuna, mahi mahi, snapper, wahoo, and tatiri, a small fish that is deep-fried and eaten whole. Cod is also used in accra, a salted fish fritter. Lobster and conch, island favorites, should only be eaten in season, from September to April. Side dishes include cassava, corn (often blackened), and sweet potatoes - all of which point to the Amerindian (namely Arawak and Carib) influence upon island food.
Indian and British influences have also crept into the island's cuisine. Curry is popular on the island, and like Creole dishes, packs a tasty punch. Try colombo, made of curried goat, lamb, or chicken. There is also roti, a dish similar to a "wrap" and made with unleavened bread and curried vegetables or meat. Select establishments serve traditional British fare in the form of ploughman's lunches, steak and kidney pies, and chips.
A refreshing drink is the perfect companion for a day in the sun. Coconut water, drunk straight from the split husk of the fruit, is safe to drink and can be bought at markets and vendors along the road. Familiar sodas are also easy to find, should you want a caffeine boost or a taste of home.
Rum is a favorite drink throughout the Caribbean, and St. Lucia is no exception. St. Lucia's own rum distillery, St. Lucia Distillers, is situated in the Roseau Valley. While Bounty is the rum of choice on the island, consider trying Denros, a strong white rum, and Old Fort Reserve, a dark rum. Rum shops, called cabawes, are great places to experience the local culture. These huts often sell groceries, loose cigarettes, beer, and of course, rum - straight or on the rocks. Rum and cola is also a popular drink on St. Lucia, and is part of the meal at the Anse la Rey fish fry.
For a different type of spirit, try Ti Tasse and La Belle Creole Black, popular coffee liqueurs. Piton, the local brew, is often referred to as the "mystic mountain brew" and comes in regular and low calorie versions. A shandy is a mixed drink of beer and ginger ale, lemon, or sorrel.
Ready to try some of St. Lucia's culinary delights? If there is a particular dish, or style of food you are interested in trying, check out our Restaurant Directory, where you can search for eateries based upon the type of cuisine they serve. Click here to search by restaurant.
Some of St. Lucia's resorts offer restaurants that serve up not only elements of local fare, but comfort foods that you are probably more accustomed to from back home. Even if you are not staying at a particular hotel with a restaurant, they often allow non-guests to dine on-site. Check out our article detailing the Best Hotels for Dining Options to find out more. Further, as you try and decide where you'll stay during your St. Lucia vacation, visit our list of all of the islands accommodations (A to Z: Hotels in Detail). Here you will find a comprehensive list of each hotel's amenities, plus you will be able to view which restaurants are nearest each hotel.
St. Lucia bears the culinary marks of many cultures, making its cuisine varied and inviting. Take time to explore the island's many delicacies. An inquisitive traveler with an open mind and palate will be richly rewarded for trying the spicy, eclectic, and exciting food of St. Lucia.
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