EATING THE VINCENTIAN WAY
St. Vincent's rich soil produces many fruits and vegetables. Arrowroot, sweet potatoes and fruits-especially bananas, plantains, figs and bluggoe (a type of banana)-are grown for local consumption. Arrowroot is used in desserts such as arrowroot custard and arrowroot sponge. The islands' cuisine has been influenced by its history. Foods such as breadfruit and coconut, which were introduced to the islands by colonists, have become dietary staples.

Seafood is abundant, and most people eat fish every day. Shrimp, whelk, lobster, jackfish, dolphin fish and lambi (conch) are mixed with scotch bonnet peppers, fruits and vegetables in a variety of dishes. A popular meal is buljol (salted fish, tomatoes, sweet peppers and onions, served with roasted breadfruit). Other common dishes include callaloo (a type of stew), pigfoot souse, roti and pumpkin soup.

Vincentians begin their mornings with "tea," which refers to a variety of hot beverages such as coffee, hot chocolate, fish broth tea, regular or cocoa tea. Cocoa tea is made from processed local cocoa beans and spices and is served with milk and sugar, like black tea. Lunch is generally a light meal. Dinner is the main family meal, and Sunday dinners are particularly important. All the family members gather for an elaborate meal, usually with fish, chicken, beef or goat.

Cassava, a tuber, is used in a variety of dishes, from chokee bam bam (a flat cake) to farine. Farine is made by grating cassava and squeezing it through a cloth to extract the roots' toxic juice. The mixture is then cooked over a fire in a large metal pot. Farine is used as a stuffing in meat or fish, as a cereal, and in desserts such as cassava pone pudding.

   Did you know?
The first breadfruit tree was brought to St. Vincent from Tahiti by Captain Bligh in 1793 when he was returning from his second Tahitian voyage. During his first voyage, he was set adrift after the famous mutiny on his ship, the Bounty.
   Callaloo
Ingredients

4 tbsp butter
1 small onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
340 g fresh spinach leaves (or dasheen greens)
720 ml water
120 ml coconut milk
1 medium potato, peeled and chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
230 g crabmeat or other seafood
Paprika

Preparation

In a large pot, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add the onions and garlic and sauté for about five minutes, or until the onion is transparent. Stir in the spinach and cook for five minutes. Remove the mixture from the pot and set aside. Add the broth, coconut milk, potato, salt and pepper to the pot, stir, and bring to a boil over a high heat. Reduce the heat and simmer, partially covered, for 15 minutes, until the potato is cooked. Add the cooked spinach and simmer for 10 more minutes. Add the fish and cook for another five minutes, until heated through. Sprinkle with paprika.




   Did you know?
A popular delicacy on St. Vincent is tri tri, a tiny fish that hatches in the sea, then migrates upstream. In hatching season, people flock to the mouths of rivers to catch the tri tri. After cleaning, the fish are seasoned with spices and curry powder and fried into cakes.