Indulge in Caribbean Culture: Caribbean Food, Dessert, Rum Recipes, Music

Indulge in Caribbean Culture: Caribbean Food, Dessert, Rum Recipes, Music

Posted 06.15.2012 in Articles by Jess

The rich diversity of the Caribbean islands has left it with an indefinable yet unique culture. Each island has its own twist on food stemming from the fusion of African, Amerindian, Europan, East Indian, and Chinese cookery from its past. Caribbean dessert is also varied to reflect the mixed origins of its recipes. But if there's one thing these islands have in common, it's their popular Caribbean rum. From rum cakes to rum drinks, these recipes will have your mouth watering. But what's a little rum without the Caribbean music? Enjoy reggae or salsa, reggaeton, calypso or many of the other Caribbean genres. The Caribbean culture is diverse, rich, pulsing and relaxing with something to offer every kind of visitor.

The Caribbean has been colonized and influenced by the Spanish and Portugese ships who began claiming territories in Central and South America; Christopher Columbus made contact with tribes in the Bahamas. After the decline of the Spanish Empire, other European nations also began to stake their presence in the Caribbean and the Caribbean became a contested area between European powers for centuries and saw settlers from all over the world, as seen in their cuisine.  

Caribbean food is a fusion of African, Ameridian, European, East Indian, and Chinese.  For example, one popular dish is “asopao”, a soupy stew with chicken, meat or seafood, and rice, with other vegetables including tomatoes and bell peppers. Caribbean cuisine uses star fruit in salads and desserts, makes many curries with allspice, wraps curried meat in an Indian flatbread called “roti”, or “stamp and go” fried codfish patties that once were given to British sailors. Caribbean food recipes reflect the diversity of the cultures that have settled there.

Caribbean desserts can feature exotic ingredients not commonly used in American desserts. For example, there’s rum cake, infused with rum, dried fruit, and chopped nuts; cassava pone, with ground cassava root, coconut, and a variety of spices; “Duckunoo”, made with cornmeal, molasses, coconut milk; a naseberry dessert made with naseberries and coconut cream. There is clearly a preference for coconut, as well as utilizing other exotic fruits and roots. Islanders also like to use mangoes, in mango bread, mango coffee cake, and mango rum cake. But Caribbean desserts can also be familiar: the islanders eat traditional butter cookies as well, and make banana bread and lemon pies 

The Caribbean is also a popular and famous home to rum, which is used in many beverages and other cooking. One very common island drink is rum punch, made with rum and mixed with, for example, ginger ale and pineapple juice. Rum is baked into desserts like pecan rum pie or rum chiffon pie, strawberry rum cake, and rum pumpkin pies.

Caribbean music also has a wide and varied musical culture; Caribbean music genres are syntheses of African, European, Indian, and aborigine music. Antiguan culture has a genre of music called benna, a call-and-response style folk song using lyrics that focus on gossip. Belize is the home of reggae music, using off-beat accents on the guitar or piano, and melodic bass lines at a slower tempo. Punta is both music and dance, performed at celebrations and festivals; aside from guitars and synthesizers, it also uses instruments such as Garifuna drums and conchshells.  Cuba has Afro-Cuban jazz and rumba music, based on many musical rhythms, a five-stroke pattern, and associated with different dances. These are only the first sampling of the huge assortment of different musical genres the Caribbean islands have.

The Caribbean is an exciting mélange of different types of foods, cultures, and influences; whatever else may be found there, however, the island culture is all about having fun. Be adventurous in trying out the different foods and music and everyone will find something they love in the diverse array of island offerings.

 

 

Image (CC) J_P_D 

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