What do you eat when you are on vacation? While many may stick to their diet it is no wonder that others can slowly be seduced by exotic flavors, picture-perfect dishes that range from Autour cuisine to colorful snacks. If you are heading to Mexico, Jamaica or the Dominican Republic, there are three Caribbean local dishes you must try.
Your stay in the Riviera Maya will only be complete when you try the cochinita pibil. This dish is originally from the state of Yucatán and is made up of two key ingredients that are pork and achiote. Its original version comes from pre-Columbian times, when the locals used to cook venison, peccary, or turkey for the offerings of November 2 for the food of the souls or “Hanal Pixan“. You can read more about the Day of the Dead here.
With the arrival of the Spanish in Mexico, so did the Iberian pork which gave way to the porks known today and which are the main ingredient in today’s version of the dish. It is slowly baked in achiote chili paste, tomatoes, sour orange juice, onion, and chili on a banana leaf. The result is the most tender meat in the world that is quite juicy and flavourful. You can eat only the meat with garnishes or go with everything and prepare a toast, some tacos, or a “cake” or sandwich.
Start your day in Samaná, Punta Cana, or La Romana with the goodness of mangú. This classic Dominican breakfast is made with dense green plantains that are boiled and mashed, typically served with fried eggs, fried cheese, and fried salami, the classic “tres golpes” which means “three hits” in English. It’s a hearty breakfast that’s perfect before a long day of adventures, such as hiking or watersports.
If you want to try making your own mangú, be sure to buy unripe green plantains, cut them into small pieces and boil in for 20-30 minutes or until they turn a bright yellow color. Reserve some of the boiled water and drain the pieces into another bowl. Add salt, olive oil, and butter, and mash away!
Whether you visit the north shores or the southern spots of Jamaica, jerk is one of the best representations of the local cuisine, which is renowned for its juicy flavors and a variety of different spices. Jerk refers to both the spice and the marinade – which is comprised of a distinct blend of herb and spices, usually applied to a meat of choice such as chicken, pork, fish, or lamb.
Take this unique experience back home by purchasing a jerk sauce at the local market.
Recipes may vary, but there are essential ingredients that should remain intact to achieve an authentic Jamaican jerk spice: pimento seeds (all-spice), thyme, scallion, onion, garlic, and most importantly scotch bonnet pepper. A good jerk meal is not subtle, so be ready for an explosive bite!