St Lucia is an ideal holiday destination not only for those who want to take a break in a breath-taking paradise but also for those who love food and trying out new tastes and cuisines.

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You may be surprised to learn that St Lucian cuisine brings together influences from many different countries and cultures. The cuisine is known for being a combination of Dutch, French, Spanish and African flavours with a traditional blend of Creole. This may sound like a curious mix but you will soon discover that food cooked in St Lucia will be some of the most mouth-watering that you are ever likely to taste with flavours that will burst in your mouth and get your taste buds dancing.

There are an abundance of restaurants in St Lucia, which means you will be spoilt for choice when choosing the type of meal you want. However, satisfaction is guaranteed as once inside a restaurant you will be charmed to see how much attention to detail is given to each dish along with the level of presentation given. It will then become obvious to you that chefs in St Lucia pride themselves on what they do and this is what makes St Lucia a great place for foodies.

As you would expect the island has many seafood restaurants and tuna fish, mahi mahi and snapper are popular culinary choices. There are also many Indian infused restaurants and when you understand the history of St Lucia you will see that due to the trade history with India nearly 40% of St Lucians have Indian ancestry.

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Fruits and vegetables are grown locally for restaurants as the island has rich and fertile soil making it an ideal place to grow such produce.

The national dish of St Lucia is ‘green figs and salt fish’ (the green figs are unripe bananas). The green figs are sautéed with onions, garlic, celery and peppers and then the salt fish is then flaked in. This dish is served throughout the day from breakfast through to supper. For those who wonder what the banana tastes like when combined with these other flavours you need to bear in mind that unripe bananas aren’t sweet and are harder and starchier, making them more like potatoes than bananas.

Other renowned foods in St Lucia include ‘bakes’ and ‘callaloo’. Bakes are a type of bread that is fried and tastes more like a savoury muffin that is dense and chewy. These are either eaten on their own or a filling can be added such as fish and stewed vegetables to make a popular St Lucian snack called “Shark and Bake”. Callaloo on the other hand is a leafy vegetable which is used instead of spinach in dishes but it adds a smoky-flavoured taste to seafood dishes.

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Along with the great restaurants in St Lucia there are many open-air stands littered throughout the streets selling street-food. Tasting the ready-to-eat food cooked here will provide you will a taste of the real home cooked food of the St Lucian people. Typical food on sale includes shark and bake, bakes and roast pork among other St Lucian delicacies.

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St Lucia is also home to the Food and Rum Festival which attracts some of the best chefs, food critics and connoisseurs from all over the world to the island. This festival gives the island the chance to showcase the diversity of the food available in the Caribbean as well as the quality and excellence of the rum. The festival gives you the opportunity to see chefs cooking some local dishes as well as being able to learn about rum and taste over 40 different varieties!

St Lucia is an enchanting place and ideal for foodies as the food prepared here is unique. You may have tasted some of the dishes on the St Lucian menus on other Caribbean islands or elsewhere in the world but they will taste different. St Lucian chefs have a way of putting an individual twist on their dishes that you won’t have tasted anywhere else. And there is no better location in the whole world to enjoy new tastes and culinary delights than in the tropical setting of St Lucia.

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Jane is a travel blogger who has eaten her way around some of the world’s tastiest destinations. She writes for Simply Caribe, a caribbean villa rentals specialist.