St Vincent and the Grenadines is made up of a main island, St Vincent and about 32 smaller islands called the Grenadines though only the 9 largest are inhabited. It is located between the islands of St. Lucia and the similarly named island of Grenada. Whether from the main island or one of the smaller Grenadines, citizens are all called Vincentians or Vincy.
A popular activity in St Vincent is to go island hoping via ferry, water taxi and in some instances even swimming. The islands all have something different to offer though some aren’t entirely open to the public because they are privately owned or scattered with luxury homes.
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Most Popular Vincentian Dishes
St Vincent’s top industry is agriculture. Their crop production includes arrowroot, coconuts, bananas, and root vegetables like sweet potato and yam, fruit such as pineapple, wax apple and dragon fruit. This is just the tip of what is grown. These same foods are also staple crops on Vincentian households. The island has a small fishing industry with most seafood used to supply local households rather than exports.
Breadfruit and Jackfish
Breadfruit and Jackfish consists of whole roasted breadfruit which is then peeled and sliced. The jackfish is fried whole and served with the breadfruit along with sauce or a salad. Breadfruit is a large starchy fruit. When it isn’t yet too ripe, it is used for savory dishes. Breadfruit is so abundant and beloved that the entire month of August is dedicated to celebrate the breadfruit and its many uses. This is the national dish of St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
Buljol is a dish of stewed salted cod fish. The fish is stewed with onions, sweet peppers and tomatoes. While there are many different ways to stew salted cod, buljol is different because is uses spicy peppers. The world buljol evolved from the French words brule, meaning burn and gueule the informal word for mouth.
Madungo bakes are a fried bread made from arrowroot. The bakes typically include nutmeg and coconut. They are cooked by frying or roasting. Bakes are eaten as is, or filled with foods such as saltfish.
Madungo is the Vincentian word for arrowroot. It is also used to make dumplings. The use of arrowroot flour in this way is unique to St Vincent since most dumplings and bakes from the other Caribbean islands are made using wheat flour and do not contain coconut. St Vincent is one of the few countries in the world that grows arrowroot for exporting.
Callaloo is a dish made using the leaves from a type of taro known as dasheen. Vincentian callaloo is a soup which also contains root vegetables, meat, dumplings and coconut milk. Callaloo originated from West Africa though it most likely was a thick sauce of taro leaves rather than a soup.
Fish blaff is dish of spicy poached fish. The fish is marinated with limes and green seasoning. Green seasoning is made from a mixture of finely chopped green onions, onions, garlic, seasoning peppers, parsley and cilantro.
The fish most often used are the popular Caribbean types such as snapper, grouper or mahi mahi. Fish blaff is served with root vegetables.
Banana fritters are a simple treat made from bananas, sugar and flour. Very ripe bananas are used for sweetness and the right consistency. The ingredients which can also include baking powder are mixed into a batter which is spooned into hot oil and fried.
Blackfish is dried and salted pilot whale meat. The blackfish is often stewed and eaten with starches like breadfruit, dumplings or bakes. The name comes from the appearance of the meat once it is salted.
The practice of whaling or whale hunting is frowned upon in most parts of the world however in the small village of Barrouallie it is a tradition. Its one of the few places where whaling is allowed. This is because whaling in St Vincent is a tradition by the locals and not for commercial purposes.
Pelau is a mixed rice dish. Besides rice it contains, pigeon peas, vegetables, meat, and brown sugar. The meat is usually chicken which is browned using deeply caramelized brown sugar. The chicken is stewed before adding raw, rinsed rice.
They are both cooked until the chicken loses its stewing liquid. Some pelaus are made with pork or black-eyed peas though it is much less popular than the pigeon peas version.
Pig Feet Souse
Pig feet souse is a dish of salted pigs’ feet and seasonings cooked in clear broth. The feet are cooked first for a long time to tenderize or for a shorter period in a pressure cooker. When tender it is drained, rinsed then more water is added along with the flavorings.
Souse is eaten cold with sliced or grated cucumbers added to the broth. The popularity of souse in the Caribbean has declined over the past few decades making it one of the harder to find dishes. Souse is also made with other cuts of pork, such as pig tails.
Black cake is a baked dessert made using flour, eggs, soaked fruit like raisins and cherries, spices, vanilla, butter and rum. Burnt sugar, known as browning in the Caribbean is added to the cake batter. This gives the cake is dark brown- almost black appearance. After baking, more alcohol is poured over the cake. This is a traditional Christmas cake.