Cooking the Caribbean way incorporates the flavors and flexibility of many nationalities.
As people from other
countries began to invade the more than 7,000 islands that make up the
Caribbean, they brought their own foods and traditions that melded with
those of the Carib and Arawak peoples.
Because fresh fruits and vegetables are so abundant, many recipes include both savory and sweet flavorings: from chutneys to salsas, to soups, and even beverages. Sweets and rum are, of course, prevalent as well. Rum, by the way, is a by-product of sugar cane, which was brought to the islands by Christopher Columbus in 1493.
A wonderful array of soups typically contains a literal melting pot of ingredients: vegetables, meat, seafood, spices, and the ever-present dose of hot pepper.
Conch, sopito, pumpkin, and callaloo soups rank as top choices on the table and you will find that recipes vary widely, just as in many ethnic regions around the world.
Callaloo is the Caribbean version of spinach. Callaloo, along with okra (also called gumbo or quimbombo), was introduced to the islands by African slaves. The soup version, also known as Pepperpot, is a classic that has many variations. However, the term "Pepperpot" also has its own versions - without callaloo - that can turn into a thickened stew, or be a purely vegetarian delight.
Rice and bread should accompany these delicious soups, which makes it easy to turn them into a main course.
1 pound pork loin,
Chop the pork into small chunks and saute with the onion. Chop the spinach leaves. Fill a pot with at least 1 ½ quarts water and the broth. Add the rest of the ingredients and bring to a boil. Simmer for 4-6 hours, adding water if necessary in the first 3 hours. Makes 4 hearty servings.
16 ounces canned
Note: You can
use summer squash instead of pumpkin.
In the Caribbean, color on the plate is just as important as flavor. When serving, depending on seasons, add fresh fruits or raw vegetables to complement your meals.
You now have two great soups for your Caribbean recipe file. You can find other great recipes (including variations of the above) in cookbooks and on the Internet. Be sure to visit the forums if you have questions, comments, or just want to talk about ethnic foods in general.
Remember to make cooking fun: think of the islands as an exotic getaway, far from our everyday demands. Incorporate a few Caribbean recipes into your routine and you may get the urge to kick back with a Rum punch!
2005-2008 C.K. Kennedy
Pittsburg, TX 75686
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