Discover why Martinique was named the “Culinary Capital” of the Caribbean last year.
Martinique, a French-speaking Caribbean island, is well-known among European and Canadian travelers. However, it has yet to be “discovered” by the American crowd.
Perhaps its new-found fame as the mecca of delicious Caribbean food will draw more visitors from the US and beyond.
Why Martinique is the Culinary Capital of the Caribbean
What constitutes a “culinary capital”? Is it the number of restaurants? Or the quantity of “top-rated” restaurants? Or perhaps because the island is home to some famous chefs?
While many Caribbean islands do have these things, being a culinary capital isn’t about quantity. It’s about quality. Wherever you go in Martinique, you’ll find food that tastes amazing. From the fancy plates of Jean-Charles Bredas to poulet boucane (smoked chicken) on the side of the road, it’s all spectacular. In fact, you’ll be hard pressed to find a poor-tasting meal on this island.
The cuisine here is usually French or Martinican, or a mixture of both. Beach restaurants are some of the best around. They may have a more casual atmosphere, but nothing beats sticking your toes in the sand while you enjoy a hearty meal.
However, apart from restaurants, there are the food markets to consider. Perhaps you wouldn’t bother with those while staying in a hotel, but they are important to those who will cook their own meals in an airbnb or villa. Martinique’s markets are like the ones on mainland France. You find a fine spread of cheese, wine, fish, meats, and produce. In addition, the fact that Martinique has so many artisanal rum makers on one tiny island is impressive.
Typical Foods of Martinique
Here are some of the most famous and common dishes you’ll find in Martinique:
This refers to a delicious Martinican sausage made from pork. The two most popular types are boudin creole and boudin blanc. The difference between the two is that boudin creole has pig’s blood, and boudin blanc is made without the blood and contains seafood (usually fish, sea snail, crab, or shrimp). Boudin is especially popular at Christmas time.
This grilled sea bream dish is usually served with a side of salad, potatoes, or rice. Seasoned with salt, pepper, lime juice, and thyme, the fish can also be baked.
Lambis, or large sea snail, is an ingredient you’ll see in many Martinican menus. It’s included in casseroles, stewed, or incorporated in pancakes. In addition, you can enjoy it grilled or fried.
Chatrou refers to a small octopus showcased in several common dishes. These include Fricassée de chatrou, essentially octopus stew, and Ragoû de Chatrou, which is fried octopus with beans, rice, lentils, and yams.
These are delicious mini puff pastries stuffed with spicy minced pork. They are sold by the dozen of half dozen at markets during Christmastime. Besides pork, they can contain conch, codfish, or chicken. In addition, you can find sweet patés filled with guava or banana jam.
Colombo is a mixture of spices used for several different dishes. You can have chicken colombo, or fish, crab, vegetable colombo. It is similar to Indian curry. Colombo dishes usually feature rice, beans, or lentils on the side, as well as some cooked yam, plantain, or taro root.
This dish is made with chayote, a light-green starchy vegetable. It is seasoned with four spice (cinnamon, ginger, cloves, nutmeg) and topped with grated cheese. Gratin dishes are also made with other main ingredients, like plantain or green papaya.
Le Matautou de Crabe
This traditional Easter dish is made from land or mangrove crab. It is usually stuffed with rice, vegetables, and spices, and topped with spicy sauce.
If you’re curious about the island of Martinique, you’re not alone. It’s not one of the most popular Caribbean vacation destinations. However, that’s not because it’s not a fabulous place to spend your time.
Located in the Lesser Antilles, Martinique is an overseas region of France. It lies directly north of Saint Lucia, and south of Dominica. Although it has a land area of just 436 square miles, it has some impressive geographic features. These include four groups of volcanoes and mountains, extensive rainforest, and both white and black sand beaches.
The population of Martinique is around 400,000 people. Nearly everyone speaks French, Martinique Creole, or both. Since this country is part of the European union, its citizens use the euro as currency.
Things to do in Martinique
Besides enjoying the local cuisine, there are loads of fun activities to do in Martinique. Here are just a few:
- Visit Jardin de Balata. This lovely 3-acre garden is located about 10 kilometers from Fort-de-France. A wide variety of tropical plants and trees, inhabited by butterflies and hummingbirds, will captivate your senses and envelop you in tranquility. Most guests spend from 3 hours to an entire day in the garden. Additionally, some bring their own food and set up a picnic on the grounds.
- Walk through historic Saint Pierre. Saint Pierre was the capital and largest city of Martinique, until it was destroyed by an eruption of Mount Pelee in the early 1900s. Now, it has essentially been frozen in time by lava and ash. You can walk the streets and visit a jail cell where a prisoner survived the destruction, one of the few people to do so.
- See Empress Josephine’s birthplace. Marie Joseph Rose Tascher de la Pagerie was born in 1763 on the island of Martinique. She grew up on the outskirts of Trois-Ilets, and eventually became the wife of Napoleon Bonaparte. You can tour the stone cottage where she once lived, which has been transformed into a museum.
- Bask in the sun at Les Salines. This beautiful beach on the island’s southern peninsula is the perfect place to relax and enjoy the ocean breeze. Powdery white sand and swaying palms will greet you as you step onto these sunny shores.
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Main image source: Chulicious Blog