Virgin Islands Cuisine
The Virgin Islands are among the most visited tropical paradise in the world, known for sugar white sand beaches, warm crystal clear blue and turquoise waters, lovely anchorages, the laid back island feel and their rich history and culture. Did you know though, that the Virgin Islands is also famous for its unique, sumptuous cuisine filled with amazing and unique flavors you won’t find elsewhere? It’s true…Caribbean fare is never better than in the Virgin Islands!
Before the U.S.A. acquired St. Thomas, St. John and St. Croix (and eventually Water Island) calling them the United States Virgin Islands, they were held by many European powers including Spain, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, France, and Denmark-Norway. The same is true for the British Virgin Islands, which was held by Spain and the Netherlands before Britain took ownership.
These European superpowers and the different spices, fruits and vegetables they brought to the islands from other colonies such as India, Indonesia and Africa can be credited for the unique and flavorful Virgin Islands cuisine. This, combined with local vegetable and fruits, livestock and seafood that are plentiful on the islands, provides the resulting colorful and tasty dishes emblazoned with aromatic spices, hot pepper sauces, spice rubs and fragrant marinades.
Meals are mostly family recipes handed down through generations and enhanced by a mixture of local and imported ingredients developed through the years. So, on different islands throughout the Virgin Islands, you’ll enjoy many wonderful variations of mouth watering jerk barbeque, roti, and whole grilled fish dishes.
If you’re a seafood lover, this is your place! Freshly caught fish like sea bass, kingfish, yellowtail tuna, flying fish, or swordfish are grilled, baked or served in stews. A “must try” is salted codfish, which is an island specialty. Spicy lobsters are among the popular seafood dishes, and are fairly cheap due to their availability. You’ll also commonly find other seafood such as shrimp, conch, and sea urchins, whether grilled, baked or in mixed in stews.
Of course, poultry is a staple food of the Virgin Islands, but it’s prepared differently than in other regions of the world. Chicken is frequently marinated with ginger, lime, fruits and chilies. The featured dish of the islands are West Indian cuisine specialities called Chicken Roti and Spicy Chicken Curry, and of course, jerk chicken is on nearly every menu. Try them in different parts of the Virgin Islands as they are prepared a little differently throughout, so the flavor changes.
Local fruits like mangoes, papayas, coconut and plantains are usually served with each meal, but most often they are used in drinks, desserts and chutneys. You’ll never find a better mango chutney than in the Virgin Islands! Fruits are also frequently used in pancakes, breads, and jams.
The unique fusion of different culinary styles from various parts of the world is what makes Virgin Islands cuisine extraordinary. If you love the beach, the sun, the waves–and great food–make your next vacation a trip to the Virgin Islands.