In the French West Indies, Creole cuisine is an incredible mix of Caribbean, European, Indian, African and Middle Eastern traditions. Traditional flavours from France are infused with unique local resources, such as fish, vegetables, condiments and spices. Peyi saffron, white and black pepper, cumin and all the varieties of peppers combine to make Creole cuisine truly sensational.
Guadeloupe is the world’s second largest consumer of fish per capita. Fish broth, soft-shell clam blaff, grilled rock lobster, and conch fricassee are just a few mouth-watering Créole dishes. In Martinique, do not miss the numerous crab fairs during the Easter period, where you can even witness crab races! Samoussas, codfish and vegetable accras, palm-heart salad, bonbons piment (‘spicy sweets’), and chicken Colombo are a snapshot of delicious Créole cooking.
Colorful markets are the perfect place to discover the local vegetables and fruits (christophines, yams, passion fruits, carambola sweet potato, cassava, breadfruit, Martinique’s yellow banana), Creole specialities (black pudding, accras, cod, lobster or conch patés) as well as Caribbean coffee and cocoa.
The Village of Grand-Case in Saint- Martin is considered the Gourmet Capital of the Caribbean. Restaurants pepper the little streets, and are accompanied by ‘lolos’, which are open-air food stalls. Do not leave without tasting the local produce, such as melons bursting with sunshine and Arabica coffee, as well as cocoa – the famous food of the Gods - which is available in bar or ganache form.
Did you know?
The aperitif of choice is a glass of punch made with agricultural rum, distilled in four French departments. Rum, made from sugar cane, is an integral part of West Indian culture. Sugar cane made its first appearance around 1635 on Mardinica, the island of flowers, the former name of Martinique. In the French West Indies, rum is an institution. Martinique’s Rum is considered the world’s best, and is also the first rum to be awarded France’s prestigious PDO label (Protected Designation of Origin).
In 2008, Martinique rum was awarded the Great Gold Medal at the Concours Mondial de Bruxelles. Rum is drunk either neat or mixed in various different cocktails, such as ti’punch (lemon rum and sugar), planter or daiquiri. It is also used to flavour a large number of desserts, such as the rum baba or banana flambé. Being such a popular drink, rum has its own museum.
Located in an old colonial house in Sainte-Marie, it traces the history of sugar cane and agricultural rum in Martinique, accompanied by photographs showing the different steps of the rum-making process.
Cooks’ Festival on the Guadeloupe Islands The Cooks’ Festival (‘Fête des Cuisinières’) has been an important event in Guadeloupe’s cultural calendar for the last 90 years. Held in August around the town of St Laurent, the celebration is an opportunity to taste local dishes, with age-old recipes, made by veritable ambassadors of the typically Creole cuisine.