In Britain, we have embraced many world cuisines, for instance, Japanese, Indian, Italian, Thai, Mexican, Chinese, to name a few however, it is still quite difficult to find a decent Caribbean restaurant in most major cities. The struggle does not stop there, according to a recent research in Yorkshire, only 13% of the population had tried a Caribbean Pattie, as compared to a whopping 51% who had tasted a Samosa. So, why is it that Caribbean cuisines are so hard to find?

Food from any region tells stories of its past and its people. Elisabeth Lambert Ortiz was one of the pioneering scholar cooks and perhaps the first post-war food writer, who introduced Britain to Caribbean cookery. With a rich history and abundant natural resources, Caribbean islands have always been a haven for local fresh produce. Who hasn’t heard about the famous Jerk Chicken, felt the heat of a scotch bonnet and gastronomical sensation of the reggae sauce? Breadfruit from Polynesian islands, Curry from India, Rice from China, Ackee & an array of beans/peas from Africa, salted codfish & coconut from Spain, Roast beef, Easter buns, Christmas puddings and jams from England and Soups and porridges from Scotland, Caribbean cuisine can truly shrink the world onto one plate. All these foods now form the staple diet of millions of Caribbeans around the word. In nutshell, Caribbean food is an amalgamation of flavours from Africa, Spain, India, China, Germany, Syria, Netherlands and many other European countries.

Interestingly, the word Barbecue (traditionally known as jerking) comes from the word Barbacoa originated on the Caribbean soils where native Arawak Indians introduced Maroons (African Slaves) a process of slow cooking of meat under the earth using hot rocks and burning green pimento wood. Caribbean restaurants and home cooking, around the world, still adopts these traditional methods to cook fish and meat till they are scrumptiously tender and almost falling of the bone. With a range of spices native to Caribbean islands, for instance, scotch bonnet, allspice, ginger, garlic, cloves, nutmeg, etc., any piece of meat turns into a gastronomical triumph. Barbecue or BBQ is a national favourite treat on any sunny day.

In 1930s, The Rastafarian movement added another dimension to Caribbean cuisines. Rastafarians believe in eating Ital foods which are based on the ideology of sustainability and gratitude to the nature. It encourages both Rastafarians and others to avoid processed food. Hence, Ital foods include many fruits and vegetables, juices, salad, plant-based food options which in a way, resonate with the vegetarianism and veganism. Caribbean islands have also got a range of traditional drinks to offer, Mamaguava, Ponche de Crème, Antiguan Smile, Guavaberry Kir, Ting with a Sting, Aruba Ariba, Old Jamaican, Rum Punch, Bahama Mama, Piña Colada, to name a few.

Irrespective of the class, social status, religion, background, Caribbean food is a true celebration of flavours, drinks and sunshine. This very casual & street nature of the Caribbean food can often void it from entering the realms of fine-dining. Quite evident from a recent article in the Guardian. In 2018, across 165 Michelin star restaurants in the UK, only 12% of head chefs were from ethnic minority backgrounds, out of which, only 2 head chefs were from Black community. So, why is it that Caribbean cuisines are only available in cheap takeaways around the country in unknown locations? With a population of over 45millions worldwide, and with such a universal appeal, it is such a loss that Caribbean cuisines are not part of mainstream dining experience.

Destiny UK is committed to bringing about a change in this ideology and put Caribbean cuisines on the map of the UK. We believe that Caribbean cookery, cocktails and culture have a lot of offer. Join us on this gastronomical journey around the country and let us bring the fine art of Caribbean cooker to your kitchens at home.

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