The verdant tropical landscape and easy access to waters rife with seafood set the scene for the perfect round-up of Dominicaâ€™s unique culinary delights.
It would be a shame to overlook the abundance of fresh-food offerings that exist for vacationers to take advantage of during their stay in Dominica because you are unfamiliar with the name of the dish or a few ingredients. There is no better time than your island adventure to savor something different.
Spice it up!
Many of the flavors you taste in Dominicaâ€™s dishes are influenced by Creole and Indian traditions. This gives way to meals that range from bold and smoky to verging on spicy-hot and it all boils down to the spices that are used to enhance a simple cut of meat or a typically bland vegetable. Cinnamon, cumin, bay leaf, nutmeg, saffron, ginger, and vanilla are all examples of commonly used spices in Dominica, and the addition or subtraction of hot peppers from a dish determines the heat.
Straight from the Soil
Though only about one-quarter of the island of Dominica is favorable for harvesting produce due to the mainly rocky and mountainous topography, local agriculture thrives under the tropical weather conditions paired with the rich volcanic soil that exists in Dominica. Citrus and other fruits that can be grown on trees are especially popular, and often served for breakfast, in juices, or as delicate confections. The most commonly harvested fruits and vegetables that American visitors in Dominica will be familiar with include bananas, avocados, coconut, grapefruit, limes, tangerines, pineapples, watermelon, oranges, and yams. Coffee and cocoa are also grown in Dominica.
Dominica also yields a number of produce offerings that you may have never heard of before, and the readiness of their availability gives you no reason not to sample as many different fruits and veggies as possible. These include the sweet passion fruit and carambola ; the tart granadillas, tamarind, sour sop,
gooseberry, and sorrel; and the starchy dasheen and tania.
Breadfruit, a fruit that many vacationers have heard of but never tried, is a mainstay in the Dominica diet, and serves as a great alternative to many starchy vegetables. You may find breadfruit on the menu roasted or stuffed, both of which are delectable variations.
You may also notice that something called â€œprovisionsâ€ or â€œground provisionsâ€ appears on many-a-menu in Dominica. Provisions are very simply boiled root vegetables. The mixture is different on each menu, but may include fig, white yam, sweet potatoes, eddoe, dasheen, and plantain.
Much of the meat supply in Dominica is imported, so if you order chicken, beef, goat, pork, or lamb, expect it to have come from overseas. There are, however, a few sources of protein that can be found on the island. These meats are locally called manicou and agouti, though you may recognize them as opossum and a large rodent similar in appearance to a guinea pig. These meats are often smoked or stewed, and are very popular amongst locals.
Another protein-lanced dish worth mentioning is crapaud, also known as mountain chicken. But crapaud is not a new breed of fowl. Instead, someone who orders crapaud at a restaurant will find that the plate brought to their table contains frog legs that have been heavily seasoned and either broiled, baked, or fried, and served in a bed of rice and peas. Unfortunately for vacationers who would willingly give crapaud a try, the once national dish of Dominica has now been banned from consumption due to the threat of fungal, as well as the overhunting of the frog. Still, keep your ears open while you are on the island in case this changes.
Fresh from the Sea
It is easy to see why seafood is popular in Dominica. Not only is the island surrounded by the Caribbean Sea, which accounts for the big game fish that appears on the menu, but shell fish is also bountiful in the streams that run from the mountains to the sea. Seafood commonly found on restaurant menus include octopus, king fish, snapper, and dorado, as well as spiny lobster, cray fish, and land crabs. Specialty dishes include bakes, which are cod, tuna, and cheese stuffed fritters, and the local staple of saltfish, which is codfish served on a bed of sautÃ©ed peppers, onions, and tomatoes. Another favored seafood dish in the Caribbean is bulijow. This remains true in Dominica, but the island has put its own spin on the meal by cooking the sea cod in coconut milk with peppers, onions, tomatoes, green fig, and spring onions.
With so many fresh food items available in Dominica, it would be a shame not to try something new. Still, if you lack an adventurous tongue, donâ€™t worry. Much of the cuisine in Dominica is influenced by European sensibilities, so you are sure to find an innumerable amount of palatable dishes to choose from.