St Lucia is a spellbinding Caribbean island that’s best known for its stunning sunset vistas, rainforest hikes and luxury resorts. But the destination also boasts some of the most exquisite cuisine in the region. A mix of French, native and African cultures lends the cuisine a unique flavor and spice. From salt fish with green figs to pepperpot stews and accra, discover the flavors that make up this special island.
The island’s food reflects the many neighbors, visitors and would-be conquerors who have come to call the nation home since the 16th century. Local cuisine is largely Caribbean with some influences from India, Africa and the West Indies. Fish and figs are staples, and coconut milk is widely used in cooking. Spices like scotch bonnet peppers and thyme are commonly added to dishes, as are a variety of vegetables and herbs. The Jamaican diaspora has brought such treats as jerk chicken and meat patties to the country, while other Commonwealth nations have contributed rice and peas, macaroni pie and seafood-based soups and curries.
In addition to local ingredients, the island is a major producer of bananas and cocoa beans. These are staples of the local diet, served in everything from cakes and smoothies to baked goods and hot chocolate. Other popular snacks include accra, a deep-fried dish of salted codfish that’s heavily seasoned and packed into a ball, and pounded mackerel, which is often grilled or fried.
When it comes to dining, Saint Lucians enjoy a variety of Caribbean and Indian cuisines, but the mainstay is fresh tropical fruit and fish. Seafood like mahi mahi and snapper is cooked in a light Creole sauce with onions, tomatoes and local peppers. Chicken and goat are also common meats on the island, prepared in curry or a more simple bouyon style. Rice and peas is a common side dish, as are fried plantains and a type of breadfruit roti, which is a flatbread that’s wrapped around curried meat, vegetables or chickpeas.
The island’s natural beauty has inspired generations of poets, thinkers and artists, including the Nobel prize winning playwright and novelist Derek Walcott. Wood carvings by local artisans are found throughout the island, with a large number of craftsman operating out of Castries, the capital city. Other art forms that are prevalent in the country include painting and dance, with a strong traditional voodoo culture. A thriving music scene is also in place, with many singers and musicians coming from the island. In addition, a wide range of festivals and celebrations take place on the island throughout the year.