This post is particularly exciting because it is all about food. Food is an important aspect of everyday life. I have experienced so many different tastes and flavors during my first 3 weeks here in St. Lucia. Let me share with you a bit about my experiences:
But first, an inspiring quote:
“No matter what our cultural background is, the preparation and eating of food is something we all have in common with one another. But food is much more than nourishment; it is the vehicle through which we communicate sentiments, express our creativity and create memories. And it is in the sharing of food with others that keeps us connected.”
In general, my host family, and many Lucians (people from St. Lucia) eat very healthy foods. The main meal is lunch, and generally breakfast and dinner are very light or not eaten at all (depending on the person). A typical breakfast for me would be either cereal with almond milk (I got lucky, and my host mom is lactose intolerant too), or eggs. Sometimes my mom makes bakes for me which I eat with cheese, but I will explain this delight later on. For lunch, which I eat at the training center, my mom packs me a main meal (green fig salad, saltfish, breadfruit, dasheen, bouyon, rice with tuna, etc.), a side dish (cucumbers and tomato), and A LOT of fruit. For dinner, I am generally on my own. I have the option of eating leftovers, making hot dogs, or eating cereal most of the time.
1. Green Fig Salad: The National Dish
This was the first meal I had in St. Lucia from my host mom. It is the national dish here, despite the fact that the salt fish actually comes from Panama… It has quite the deceiving name. “Green figs” are not figs at all, in fact they are just unripe bananas. To make this meal, you boil the green figs, vegetables, peppers and onions in a pot. You lightly fry the fish in a pan, and add the fish to the cooked ingredients. Voila, you have a delicious green fig salad.
2. Dasheen, Tania
In the Caribbean, root vegetables are called “ground provisions”. Dasheen is the Creole name for Taro root. They boil it here and eat it in stews as well as with salt fish. Tania is also a root vegetable similar to dasheen. It is boiled and used in the same types of stews and meals. Both are very starchy vegetables, but are quite delectable.
Another famous dish made in St. Lucia is bouillon. It is a stew-like dish which has salt fish, potato, yam, dasheen, tania, pumpkin, spinach, carrots, dumplings, oxtail and plaintains. This is personally one of my favorites so far. Even though it is hot over here, a warm stew with yummy dumplings and vegetables always brings comfort.
Breadfruit is a fruit with a unique starchy potato flavor that tastes similar to freshly baked bread. It is boiled or fried and put into stews, eaten with salt fish, or with vegetables. It is large and round and grows on trees all throughout St. Lucia. It is one of the main staples for Lucians. It has a very different flavor, but it is fantastic.
Bakes are usually made for breakfast. Although fried dough is probably the last thing I am looking to eat in the morning, I have to say they are such a nice treat. My host mom makes a lot of these at once, combining flour, egg, sugar and salt to make the dough, and frying them in a pan. The best way to eat them is with cheese melted inside. YUM. Also, another wonderful way to eat bakes that we have discovered is to dip it in ice cream. I first tried this with pistachio flavored ice cream and it was to die for.
6. Cocoa Tea
This is the typical drink of choice for breakfast. It is warm and delicious and is supposed to “warm you up” in the morning. For me, this does not work because I am warm all the time unlike my host family who always says it is cold here. I guess it is safe to say that I am still getting used to the weather here. Anyways, cocoa tea is made with water, grated cocoa, cinnamon, clove, fennel, lime skin, vanilla, milk and sugar. It is similar to hot chocolate in some ways, but more watered down I would say. Overall this drink is heavenly when I am even a tiny bit “chilled”.
This is a wax apple, it grows on trees. It has the crisp of an apple, but the crunch of a pepper. It does not really have much flavor, but it is good!
This is a papaya tree. Papaya is one of the most common fruits eaten here in St. Lucia. It is papaya season right now, so I have eaten many of these in the past 3 weeks. Papaya is known as “popo” in Creole.
Mangos are also very prevalent fruits in the Caribbean. There are many different kinds of them here. It is mango season, so I have eaten quite a bit of them in the past 3 weeks. They are so juicy and delicious. Some of them require floss after eating them because they peel the mango and eat it with their teeth instead of cutting them. There are little mango strings that tend to get caught between ALL of your teeth.
I have not eaten a passion fruit directly, but my host mom loves to make juice every once in a while. The last juice she made was passion fruit/mango juice. It was to die for.
This is one of my favorites. I have never had guava before I came here. It is very sweet when it is ripe, and there are quite a few seeds that you can eat. The seeds are very hard though, so do not bite on them!
The coconuts here are green, and they can be opened with a machete in order to get to the milk on the inside. My host mother made some coconut water for me and it was so fresh and wonderful.
All in all, you could say that the food in St. Lucia is unique and amazing. It is very different from the type of foods I eat in the U.S.A., however there are similarities as well. I have connected with my host mother deeply over food/cooking/eating. It is such a great way to spend time with my host family and learn ways to cook local foods. It will be very useful when I move off into my own home for my Peace Corps Service.
Thank you again for reading, and I hope you enjoy!