British Virgin Islands Recipes and traditional food tends to be spicy and hearty. Many of the foods are imported due to an acquired taste for foreign foods.
Modern Influence on British Virgin Islands Food Recipes
The single largest influence on modern Virgin Islander culture, however, comes from the Africans enslaved to work in cane fields from the 17th to the mid-19th century. These African slaves brought with them traditions from across a wide swathe of Africa, including what is now Nigeria, Senegal, both Congos, Gambia and Ghana.
Virgin Islands culture continues to undergo creolization, the result of inter-Caribbean migration and cultural contact with other islands in the region, as well as the United States. Migration has altered the social landscape of both countries to the extent that in the British Virgin Islands, half of the population is of foreign (mostly Caribbean) origin and in the U.S. Virgin Islands, most native-born residents can trace their ancestry to other Caribbean islands.
Local farmers grow fruits and vegetables along with the rearing of animals. Their goods are sold in local open-air markets, while supermarkets tend to carry only imported foods. Upscale restaurants often cater to tourists, serving a combination of North American dishes with tropical twists as well as local cuisine. An example of this is the addition of mango and Caribbean spices to salmon, a non-tropical fish.
British Virgin Islands Cuisine
Traditional food tends to be spicy and hearty. Many of the foods are imported due to an acquired taste for foreign foods. Local farmers grow fruits and vegetables along with the rearing of animals. Their goods are sold in local open-air markets, while supermarkets tend to carry only imported foods. Upscale restaurants often cater to tourists, serving a combination of North American dishes with tropical twists as well as local cuisine. An example of this is the addition of mango and Caribbean spices to salmon, a non-tropical fish.
Fungi (pronounced foon-gee) is a main staple of the traditional Virgin Islands diet. It consists of cornmeal that has been boiled and cooked to a thick consistency along with okra. Fungi is usually eaten with boiled fish or saltfish.
Callaloo (sometimes spelled kallaloo) is a soup made from callaloo bush/leaf, often substituted with spinach. It consists of various meats and okra, and is boiled to a thick stew consistency.
Because of inter-Caribbean migration, many foods from other Caribbean countries have been adopted into the Virgin Islands culinary culture. For example, a popular dish is roti, of Indo-Trinidadian origin, which consists of curried vegetables and meat wrapped in a paper-thin dough.
Fruits consumed in the Virgin Islands include: sugar apple, mango, papaya, soursop, genip, sea grapes, tamarind (can be made in a sweet stew or rolled in sweet balls), and goose berries (small green sour fruit, smaller than a grape). These fruits are mainly stewed together with sugar for a sweet snack.
“Bush tea”, a general term for any herbal tea derived from native plants (including lemongrass), is the hot beverage of choice in the Virgin Islands. Popular cold beverages include maubi, sorrel, soursop, sea moss and passion fruit. Drinks with ginger root are also popular.
Pate (Pronounced PAH-TEH), fried dough filled with various meats including beef, chicken, conch, or saltfish stuffed inside is a popular snack (similar to an empanada). Another popular snack is Johnnycake (originally known as ‘journey cake’), a pastry also made with fried dough.
FAQs About Food in Virgin Islands
1. What is the National Dish of the British Virgin Islands?
BVI’s national dish is “fish and fungi.” Okra and cornmeal are boiled with butter and then flattened into a cake and served with braised fish, which is cooked with tomatoes, onions and other traditional spices.
2. What Do People Eat in the British Virgin Islands?
Specialties. Seafood dishes, including lobster (the Anegada lobster is reputedly the best in the Caribbean), fish chowder, snapper, whelks, mussel pie, conch stew and shark. Roti (flavorful East Indian flat bread, filled with meat or vegetables).
3. What Fish Can You Eat in the BVI?
In general, to be safe, catch-and-release is advised, although tuna, mahi-mahi, kingfish and Wahoo can be considered safe to eat.
4. What Soup is Popular in the Virgin Islands?
The most famous soup in the islands is callaloo, or kallaloo, made in an infinite number of ways with a leafy green vegetable similar to spinach. It’s often flavored with any combination of the following: salt beef, pig mouth, pig tail, hot peppers, ham bone, fresh fish, crab, corned conch, okra, onions, and spices.
5. What is the Favored Rum and What Does it Taste Like?
Cruzan Aged Dark Rum is a blend of rums aged 2-4 years in charred oak casks. It is exceptionally smooth, this rum offers a dry, clean taste with vanilla overtones and a pleasant finish. It’s smooth enough to sip neat, but shines as the base for most traditional cocktails.
What Are Some Traditional Virgin Islands Food Dishes?
Fish & Fungi. Firm-fleshed fish such as red snapper or Old Wife, is boiled or pan-fried and served whole (locals says the eyes are the best part) in a Creole sauce flecked with savory green herbs. The fish sides up to a mix of cornmeal, water and butter that are cooked and hand-stirred into a side dish the consistency of creamy mashed potatoes. This duo is considered the Virgin Islands’ national dish.
Callaloo. Spinach, okra and local native greens are the base for this thick soupy stew. Conch, crab, fish, salt beef or smoked pig tail added for extra gusto. Customarily this dish is served with a heaping helping of fungi.
Conch Fritters. Besides Fish & Fungi, one flavorful sea snail is widely embraced and that would be the conch. People consider conch fritters, which are battered and fried conch balls, an island favorite. This finger food is usually served up and enjoyed with a spicy and creamy, ketchup-based sauce or creole remoulade.
Pates. Similar to Spanish empanadas, pates (pronounced pah-tays) are light fare and one of the most common foods consumed in the USVI. Visitors and locals alike enjoy these deep-fried pastries with their crispy, crunchy, doughy goodness. Pates come stuffed with ingredients such as different types of meats, conch or whelk, salt fish, scotch bonnet peppers and vegetables and spices.
Rotis. The real definition of roti is a tortilla-type flat bread. However, most folks offering roti sell it as a complete sandwich where the thin bread is wrapped around a curried meat, seafood or vegetable filling.
Pot Fish. No food group is as traditional in the islands as seafood. One popular dish of the sea that is a must-have is tasty Pot Fish. Much like how lobsters are caught in traps, pot fish are reef fish that are caught in pots.
Red Grout. No meals are complete without a dessert. One stand out dessert is Red Grout, a signature treat that is traditionally served on Transfer Day, a holiday that commemorates the transfer of the Virgin Islands from Denmark to the U.S. Don’t let the odd name fool you, though, because Red Grout is a decadent confection that blends guava, tapioca and the sweetest of other ingredients.
30 Great Virgin Islands Recipes
1. Fish & Fungi – Food in Virgin Islands
2. Savory Baked Island Chicken – Virgin Islands Recipes
3. Calaloo – Virgin Islands Food
4. Island Style Fish (Red Snapper)
5. Beef Pates – Food in Virgin Islands
6. Island Chicken – Virgin Islands Recipes
7. Rotis – Virgin Islands Food
8. Virgin Island Slow-Roasted Pork Shoulder
9. Caribbean Potato Salad – Food in Virgin Islands
10. Island Beach Chicken – Virgin Islands Recipes
11. Red Grout Dessert – Virgin Islands Food
12. BVI Style Peas Soup – British Virgin Islands Recipes
Salted pigs’ tails lend a silky collagen richness to the broth. Look for them at Caribbean markets and butcher shops, and be sure to soak them for at least 8 hours to draw out some of their salinity.
13. Caribbean Rice and Beans – Food in Virgin Islands
14. Saltfish “Run Down” – Virgin Islands Recipes
15. Island-Style Conch Fritters – Virgin Islands Food
16. Turn Cornmeal – Food in Virgin Islands
17. Island Spice Beef Ribs – Virgin Islands Food
18. Saltfish Buljol – Food in Virgin Islands
19. Caribbean Curried Chicken – Virgin Islands Recipes
20. Caribbean Pot Fish – British Virgin Islands Recipes
21. Lobster Salad – Virgin Islands Food
22. Banana Fritters – Food in Virgin Islands
23. Mashed Sweet Potato Stuffing
24. Rum Cake – Virgin Islands Food
25. Orange Colada – British Virgin Islands Recipes
26. Orange Colada Family-style
27. Coconut Tart – Virgin Islands Food
28. Key Lime Pie – Food in Virgin Islands
29. Dumb Bread – British Virgin Islands Recipes
30. Johnny Cake – Virgin Islands Recipes
You might also like some of the articles from our website about recipes from other Caribbean countries.
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(1)Text Courtesy of Wikipedia