Discovering the flavors of Guadeloupe and Martinique with Chef Vanessa Bolosier


The word ‘Creole’ reminds a lot of people in New Orleans. But Creole represents the convergence of many different peoples and cultures; it is a word associated with those born in a former colony, as opposed to those who migrated there as adults.

The islands where I grew up – Guadeloupe and Martinique – have known many cultural influences over the centuries. Native Americans cleared land to grow cassava and corn, and lived near rivers and on the coast, so fish and seafood were staple foods. Native plants included chili peppers, pineapple, Apple Cinnamon (sugar-apple), guavas and coconut. Cassava, sweet potato, pumpkin, and various peas and beans were also growing in the wild.

The Spanish introduced onions, garlic, oranges and more. Other Europeans came later, bringing culinary marks such as the use of salted fish and marinade, as well as foods from their trade with Asia, including rice, limes, ginger, and vegetables. mangoes.

Much of Creole cuisine is a legacy of slaves and indentured servants, and when it came to meat, they were left with the animal parts that Europeans didn’t want; pigtails, cow’s feet and offal are frequently found in Creole stews. The tradition of stewed cooking was reinforced by the slave lifestyle on the plantations, with stews simmering throughout the day as they worked. If fish or vegetables were available, slaves used them in fried foods such as donuts. Several dishes introduced during colonization have also been incorporated into Creole cuisine, including beef patties, black pudding and rice pudding.

This is an edited excerpt from Sunshine Kitchen: Delicious Creole Recipes from the Heart of the Caribbean, by Vanessa Bolosier, published by Pavilion Books (RRP: £ 12.99).

What to eat in the French Caribbean

Bokit
Travel to Guadeloupe without trying a Bokit is considered a sin. This superstar “sandwich” is simply a fried dough, split in half and filled with toppings such as salted fish, cold cuts or smoked chicken. It is generally available in roadside catering trucks.

Dombrés
These little balls of dough are a staple of the French Antilles. The easy way to profit shaded is with red beans and cold cuts, while the five-star version is a large bowl of it in a tomato-based sauce with shellfish (crayfish, shrimp, lobster or crab).

Plantain gratin
Mother of all French West Indian gratins, this accompaniment is both sweet and savory. Plantain is a local favorite and this gratin can be made in so many ways. Whether the plantain is mashed or sliced ​​with a bechamel sauce, it never disappoints.

After the abolition of slavery in 1848, plantation owners still needed cheap labor. Immigrants from India arrived, and after serving their years of indentured servitude, many decided to get out and built a small farming community. Their descendants still own plantations and they raise the best goats to prepare Colombo curry, now considered one of the “national dishes” of the French Caribbean.

The ingredient

Vegetarian chilli is similar to the habanero, but without the heat. Its popularity has increased in recent years and it is the star of many contemporary French Caribbean dishes.

Vanessa Bolosier is a food writer and author of Sunny kitchen

Published in the September 2021 issue of National Geographic Traveler (UK)

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