With its aromatic farmers markets, tropical fruit vendors, sizzling food joints, fine seafood and delectable fusion flavours that mix Creole-Caribbean and European flavours, Antigua is the perfect isle for a gastronomic splurge.
Few Caribbean islands boast a culinary repertoire quite like Antigua, where authentic local Caribbean flavours and native Antiguan produce combine with culinary know-how from England, Spain, and France. West Indian zest melds with international fare to create a mélange of tastes, Creole dishes rub shoulders with traditional High Tea and plump, fresh seafood. Simple, fresh ingredients and considerable gourmet flair form the foundation of every Antiguan recipe, ensuring dishes such as pepper pot, curried conch, seasoned rice, snapper in banana leaves and the island’s famous Antigua black pineapple pie continue to seduce local gastronomes and visiting foodies alike.
Keen to have a local foodie as your guide? Then hire Roger’s taxis for the day and allow him the freedom to introduce you to a tastebud-tingling mishmash of farmers markets, fish stalls, street food vendors, small-holdings and rustic curb-side eateries – he has a passion for food as his straining belt-buckle will testify. Sorrel, breadfruit, pomelo, lemon, lime, cacao, guava, passion fruit, pomegranate, custard apple, pineapple, banana, soursop, mango, avocado, ackee, papaya, tamarind and coconut – there’s a lot of mouth-watering tropical fruit on this pocket-sized island. A unique combination of rich Antiguan soil and just the right amount of rainfall ensures fruit thrive in abundance – and with Roger you’ll get to try them all. The juice-drenched Antiguan black pineapple, or just Antigua Black for short, is a genuine highlight: perfectly ripened, deep-gold in colour and oh-so delectably sweet.
Antigua’s warm, fertile waters are home to around 500 species of fish and mollusc and are still harvested for mineral-rich local sea salt. Fresh spiny lobster, conch, oysters and red snapper dishes offer seafood connoisseurs a real treat in the numerous raw bars, fish restaurants and cafes scattered along the island’s coastline. Roger’s favourite place for home-cooked Antiguan fare is Caribbean Taste near Nelson’s Boatyard – a simple wooden shack. Created with considerable gusto, meals are beautifully presented and served with pride at this native islander food joint. Settle down to enormous portions of curried conch bursting with tantalising flavours, washed down with ice-cold glasses of home-spun ginger beer – well off the tourist trail.
Other Antiguan favourites to savour include a “sweet n’ salty” dish called duccana, a mix of grated sweet potato, coconut, pumpkin puree, cornmeal, sugar and spices steamed in banana leaves and served with a tomato-based salt-fish stew. Goat water is another must-try as a hearty, local speciality. Every household has its own version of this slow-cooked casserole seasoned with hot peppers, cloves and cinnamon – delicious eaten with fluffy rice. Antiguans are exceptionally proud of their national dish, known as ‘fungi and pepperpot’, a gut-busting meal of yam, squash, okra, eggplant, dasheen leaves, plantains, and pumpkin cooked as a stew and served with salted meat and fried cornmeal dumplings.
Roger can also arrange tropical cocktail tasting with an island bartender, cooking classes in an Antiguan village kitchen, fruit picking and beach picnics. He is also adept at booking high-end dining splurges of sublime sensory sophistication at the Carlisle Bay Hotel and can snap up the island’s own ice-cold beer, Wadadli at discount prices – whatever whets your appetite.
Roger’s Taxi & Tours
(268) 764 -6331
Header photo: Antigua’s markets offer a bounty of tropical fruit and vegetables © Antigua Tourist Board
Have you sampled any of Antigua’s culinary delights? What’s your favourite traditional Antiguan dish?