Bakes and Floats
Green Fig and Saltfish
Mango in Sauce
Bakes are kneaded flat circles of dough which are either baked or roasted. They often accompany other foods such as tuna, cheese, eggs and the ever popular saltfish. Floats are the fried version. Bakes and floats are usually eaten at breakfast with saltfish and cocoa tea. Bakes are tougher in texture than floats which, when made right, melt in the mouth . . . yum!
Black Cake is a Saint Lucian Christmas tradition that is not for the fainthearted. A Caribbean twist on the European and North American fruit cake, our black cake is much darker in colour due to caramelised sugar. It has plenty of alcohol so isn’t a dessert to give to children! This cake is baked with alcohol-soaked fruits, rum and, of course, ‘Looshan’ love! Black cake is not only a Christmas tradition but a wedding one too: the cake is made for the couple’s wedding day and, whatever is left over, is kept for their first wedding anniversary or the birth of their first child, which ever comes first (here in romantic Saint Lucia, it’s often the baby!)
Bouillon is a delicious one-pot recipe made with peas or beans, local seasoning, meat, ‘ground provisions’ and sometimes pasta, and is never complete without flour dumplings. Saint Lucia’s most popular bouillons are made with either a red bean or lentil base with pig-tail, lamb or cow-heel. This extra-thick soup is simple to make and guaranteed to leave your belly full!
Breadfruit is one of the largest fruits you will come across. It grows during the summer months and is a staple for lunchtime meals. Breadfruit can be boiled or roasted. On its own it has little flavour but, once topped with butter, cheese or gravy, becomes delectable! Breadfruit can be presented in a multitude of ways – breadfruit balls, breadfruit pie or pounded breadfruit, a tasty alternative to mashed potato.
Cocoa tea is a local favourite made by boiling together grated cocoa, nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves and star anise. “Toloma” (arrow root), flour or custard can be used to thicken the mixture. Just before it’s removed from the heat, milk is added. Cocoa tea can be served at any time of day although Saint Lucians love it with breakfast and on stormy days. Be sure to source a cocoa stick and local spices to take back home with you.
Green fig and saltfish is the national dish of Saint Lucia. Green figs are non-ripened bananas and saltfish is packaged salted, dried cod, two ingredients that can be found all year round. A simple but scrumptious dish, green fig and saltfish is made by firstly soaking and rinsing the fish several times to get rid of excess salt. It is then sautéed with green peppers, chives, thyme, garlic, onions, salt and pepper and served with the green figs that have been boiled with a little salt.
Mango in sauce (pickled mango) is a delicious snack of chopped green mango marinated in lime juice, salt, scotch bonnet peppers, cilantro (coriander) or ‘shado beni’ and garlic or any other desired seasonings. It’s usually sold in small sandwich bags at roadside stalls during the mango season. Other fruits similarly pickled are golden apple and pineapple. The marinated mango seed is a delight to savour, especially for children.
Penmi is made from cornmeal, grated coconut, grated pumpkin, grated sweet potatoes, sugar, milk and spices such as cinnamon and nutmeg, all mixed together. A handful of the concoction is wrapped in a wilted banana leaf and tied with twine. It’s then dropped in boiling water and unwrapped to be eaten.
Plantain is a member of the banana family. Ripened plantain, due to its sweet flavour, is adored by children (and the young at heart) when it is fried and sprinkled with brown sugar. This fruit can be made into tasty, crispy chips which you can find packaged in most supermarkets or corner stores. Plantain is commonly served as a side dish.
Saint Lucia is blessed to have cerulean waters that provide us with an abundance of seafood, from shrimp and lobster through to red snapper and mahi mahi. A fun way to sample fresh fare is to venture into the village of Gros Islet for the Friday Night Fish Fiesta. Anse La Raye and Dennery also host fish festivals where you will find grilled and fried fish, lambi (conch), octopus, crab, crayfish and squid served with fried rice, garlic sauce or bakes. Of course, the fancier restaurants serve the bigger deals such as lobster (only when in season!) and whole red snapper.
Tablet coco, or coconut tablet, is made by boiling spices in water and sugar with cut pieces of dried coconut. After this is boiled down to a caramel it is set on banana leaves and left to dry and harden. Saint Lucians make this sweet, tasty treat in their own homes, but it can be found in supermarkets throughout the year.