Origins of Caribbean Food

Caribbean cuisine echoes the culinary influences of Africa, France, Spain, India, Holland and Asia; in these water-soaked, tropical locales, fresh fruits and vegetables make up a large portion of the Caribbean diet. Caribbean food includes all of your favorites; seafood, chicken and steak, prepared with the flavorful and colorful ingredients of the Islands.

The Arawak, Carib, and Taino “Indians” were the first inhabitants of the Caribbean Islands. Their daily diet consisted of vegetables and fruits such as papaya, yams, guavas, and cassava. The Taino started the process of cooking meat and fish in large clay pots. The Carib Indians introduced spices and lemon juice to their meat and fish recipes. The Caribbean Sea was named after this tribe, who are said to have prepared the first pepper pot stew.

Once the Europeans brought African slaves into the region, the Caribbean became the crossroads to the world. The slaves’ diet consisted mostly of food the slave owners did not want to eat. So the slaves had to be inventive, and they blended their traditional African foods with staples found on the islands. The Africans introduced okra, callaloo, fish cakes, saltfish, ackee, pudding and mangos, to name a few. Presently, most Caribbean Island natives eat a diet that is reflective of these main ingredients found in original African dishes.

After slavery was abolished, the Europeans went to India and China for labor, and more cooking styles were introduced. The Chinese introduced rice and mustard, and the early Portuguese sailors introduced the popular codfish. Spain introduced fruit trees such as orange, ginger, plantains, figs, date palms, sugar cane, grapes, tamarinds and coconuts, and The Americas are responsible for introducing beans, corn, squash, potatoes, tomatoes, and chili pepper. Foods served in the Caribbean islands have been influenced by the cultures of the world, but each island adds its own special flavor and cooking technique.

At REEF, we’ve put it all together for you. You can consider the REEF Restaurant your own Caribbean oasis. Here you can taste some of the rich flavors of the Caribbean Island’s foods. Come on in, indulge yourself, Then you can tell your friends that you have experienced the best that the islands have to offer; warm and friendly hospitality, a relaxing laid back atmosphere and the best food ever.

We invite you to visit REEF Restaurant and Lounge. You’ll be happy you did.