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Clearing Up Some Myths About Caribbean Food

Caribbean restaurants are becoming more popular across the United States. Perhaps you are considering visiting one. Before you do, you may want to review the following myths about Caribbean food—along with the truth those myths are masking. 

Myth: Caribbean food is all spicy.

There are definitely some spicy dishes in Caribbean cuisine. Jamaican jerk chicken is an example of one. Mackarel rundown, made with fish and Scotch bonnet peppers, is also hot. However, there are also plenty of Caribbean dishes that are not spicy at all. Chapea, for example, is a Dominican stew seasoned with coriander and lime juice. Pan con bistec is a tasty Cuban sandwich made with grilled steak and onions. If you're dining at a Caribbean restaurant and you want a dish that's not hot, ask the server to recommend something; there will be lots of options.

Myth: It's impossible to eat vegan at a Caribbean restaurant.

While many traditional Caribbean dishes do contain fish or meat, there are also many dishes that are traditionally plant-based. You should have no trouble finding vegan options at the average Caribbean restaurant, and you're unlikely to have to ask for dishes to be modified. Some Caribbean dishes that are usually vegan include:

  • Dominican Mangu: A mashed plantain dish
  • Gallo Pinto: A rice and beans dish from Costa Rica
  • Tomato Choka: A savory breakfast stew from Trinidad

Myth: Caribbean food is fatty and unhealthy.

Actually, many Caribbean dishes are relatively low in fat. Or, if they do contain fat, it's healthy unsaturated fat that comes from vegetable oils. So many Caribbean dishes consist of vegetables, rice, and some meat or seafood. There's not a lot of cream or butter added to anything, so most fats are found naturally in the key ingredients of the dishes. There are exceptions, of course—but desserts are fatty and unhealthy practically anywhere!

Myth: Caribbean food is all the same.

There is huge variety in Caribbean cuisine. In fact, some would argue there's no such thing as "Caribbean cuisine" and that instead, each island has its own cuisine. Jamaican food is different from Costa Rican food, which is different from Dominican or Trinidadian food. You'll be able to visit Caribbean restaurants many, many times before you run out of new dishes to try.

Now that these myths have been cleaned up, you're ready to go enjoy some Caribbean food. Find a Caribbean restaurant in your area to learn more about these foods.