Eat Like a Local in Antigua
To eat like a local in Antigua, you have to be willing to get off the beaten track. While in Antigua, here are five ways to do it. The Antigua Black pineapples are a must, but don’t miss the most popular hot sauce on-island, a proper traditional lunch plate at Buba’s, or a dish guaranteed to put some bite in your bark. Eating like an Antiguan local is as rewarding an experience as you can have on the island.
Old Road, Antigua and Barbuda
All across Antigua you can find what may, at first glance, appear to be regular pineapples, but if you pass up on sampling the Antigua Black Pineapples, or just Antigua Blacks for short, you’d be missing what many call the sweetest pineapple on the planet. It’s said that Arawak Indians brought the first pineapples to Antigua’s shores more than 1,000 years ago. Upon cultivation in the island’s unique environment, these early pineapples soon adopted the distinctive flavor, appearance, and make-up of the Antigua Black we know today. The flavor being crisply sweet, not cloying, thanks in part to the Antigua Black’s low acidity. The appearance is so diminutive that you may think these pygmy pineapples aren’t ready for primetime compared to their oversized cousins from Hawaii, but one taste and you’ll change your tune. Check out Cades Bay Agricultural Station down south on Old Road to learn the history and explore the Antigua Black’s cultivation first hand.
Antigua, Antigua and Barbuda
I HATE TOBASCO! Yes, I wrote that in all caps, because I feel this so powerfully, that all caps was the only way to concisely express my position in type. Yes, I hate it, but don’t get the wrong idea, I LOVE hot sauce — or as we call it in the West Indies: “pepper sauce.” What’s the problem with Tobasco? Basically, it boils down to the balance these type of sauces much juggle between flavor and heat. Tobasco is all empty heat (and not even a lot of it) with zero flavor. Susie’s on the other hand is a completely different story. This Antigua native has been providing a well balanced mix of flavor and heat since 1960. Sure, I’ve irked my Antiguan friends in the past when I’ve complained that Susie’s isn’t spicy enough, but what it lacks in heat, it more than makes up for in flavor. This stuff tastes good! If you’re in Antigua, you should be able to find Susie’s at any and every eatery from the most expensive to the roadside BBQ’s and it’s just what the doctor ordered to add a little kick to anything from fish to ribs.
Saint Mary's Street
What’s a roti? The simple answer is the ultimate comfort meal of curry wrapped in a thin dough—borrowed from India and perfected in Trinidad and Tobago. You have to understand — making roti is not an easy task. Like many other traditional Caribbean foods, it takes a lot of time and effort to make something this comfortingly delicious… And perhaps those hours of anticipation actually added a little something to the flavors when you finally got the finished, hot roti in between your hands. It starts with the “skin” or roti (officially, only the skin is called roti, but in the Caribbean, we apply the name to the whole package). This is where a roti becomes a success, or literally falls apart. Any time you buy a roti, this is always the thing most people comment on. “Skin’s too thin.” “Skin’s too thick.” “Skin’s too dry.” Etc. The roti skin has to be just right, or the whole thing will fail. My favorite type of skin is dhalpuri which is just what you’ll find at Roti King — now just ask them to fill it with goat, chicken, or shrimp and you in business!
Dockyard Drive, Antigua and Barbuda
Goat water is basically a thin soup. Swimming in its brown depths you’ll find lumps of practically any part of a goat (usually bones and all), there’s clove, thyme, plus some other assorted herbs and spices, and depending on what island you find yourself sampling goat water, don’t be surprised to find some additional items in there like small dumplings, yams, and potatoes. You can find goat water on many islands in the Caribbean from Antigua, Grenada, St. Kitts, Nevis, and many more. It’s even the national dish of Antigua’s neighbor: Montserrat! On islands like Jamaica, expect a cousin of goat water to be served at weddings… Especially to the grooms. Why? Well, that version also goes by the name “mannish water” so can imagine what the expected results of slurping up a bowl!