French Caribbean Food History

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Creole cuisine takes its quality from the history of the French West Indies. Caribbean food and culture was born when the European traders brought African slaves into the region. The slaves ate mostly leftovers from their owners, so not unlike the slaves in the United States they had to do with what they had. This was the birth of contemporary Caribbean Cuisine. The African slaves blended the knowledge of spices and vegetables they had brought from their homeland and included them with the precious fruits and vegetables of the Caribbean Islands, as well as other items found in the area. This created many one-of-a-kind dishes, because many of the products on the islands at the time were too fragile to make it through the exportation process. When slavery was abolished on the islands, slave owners had to look elsewhere for help. Bringing in labor from India and China, different types of dishes using rice or curry were then introduced and blended into Caribbean cuisine. So as curry was brought by Indians, it became one essential ingredient for the preparation of Colombo, a dish of tamoule origin. With the exception of some local spices, Creole cuisine also owes the use of spices in general to them. With the Arawaks and the Caribean, came the use of Roucou, a red grain used in sauces, especially because of its coloring purposes. Creole Cuisine also has a lot of basic ingredients from France, from a difficult time where food was limited. Most of the food consumed in the Antilles used to come from France via boats. Flower, rice, smoked lard and breast, dry vegetables, fish, were (and are still) essential ingredients to Cuisine from the Antilles. That explains why in most of Creole dishes, we can find lard and cod.

Creole cuisine is also the art of assembly of small nothings and the recycling of leftovers. Nothing is lost ! A handful of rice and a handful of red beans go perfectly with any dish, which is why these two ingredients are often found in Creole dishes....
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