Often cited as one of the Caribbean’s most beautiful islands, St Lucia is renowned for its pristine white sand beaches and awe-inspiring rainforest hikes. But this stunning island is also rich in culture, with a unique blend of French, native and African traditions. Here, visitors can see these cultures come to life through local cuisine, art and festivals, as well as through the people themselves.
Saint Lucia’s fertile volcanic soil provides an endless supply of fresh fruits and vegetables, which are combined with a Creole cuisine influenced by the West Indies and Africa. Popular dishes include green fig and saltfish, plantains, callaloo soup (made from leafy spinach-like plants) and pepperpot stews made with beef, chicken or seafood.
The island’s abundant cocoa trees have produced an iconic drink called Cocoa Tea, which is made from fermented cocoa beans. This drink was created by freed slaves in the 1800s as a healthy alternative to imported tea and coffee.
Other popular beverages on the island include rum punch and coconut water. Both can be enjoyed over ice or as chilled cocktails.
Like most Caribbean nations, Saint Lucia is a melting pot of different cultural influences. This is especially true for its cuisine, which combines elements of Creole and French with indigenous Caribbean flavors. A number of important ingredients are common to Saint Lucian cuisine, including scotch bonnet peppers, bananas, taro, yams and a variety of tubular root vegetables. In addition to these staples, other important ingredients are thyme, coconut milk and garlic.
One of the most distinctive aspects of Saint Lucian cuisine is bouyon, a hearty stew that features chunks of sweet potato, pumpkin or yam in a sauce that’s simmered with ham hock or slices of pork. The dish is finished with a splash of scotch bonnet sauce, which is among the hottest peppers in the world.
Another popular entrée on the island is fried fish, which can be served grilled or steamed. This is accompanied by an abundance of local vegetables, including yams and plantains. Locals also enjoy eating steamed lobster, which is seasoned with a combination of thyme, black pepper and garlic.
While savory foods are a big part of the cuisine on Saint Lucia, it is also home to some tasty desserts. Paime, a cornmeal-based treat, is flavored with spices, coconut and raisins.
Festivals are a huge part of the culture on Saint Lucia, and one of the best is Carnival. This summer event, held before Lent, is reminiscent of Mardi Gras in New Orleans. It’s a chance to see residents dressed in their finest clothing, as well as elaborate costumes that would have been worn by royalty at big social events during the colonial era.