Have you ever imagined what the end result would be if you blended French gourmet cuisine with Caribbean flavours, added a generous pinch of tropical air, and a dash of exotic plants? There is no need to wonder any longer as it is the reality of Guadeloupe.
The archipelago of Guadeloupe (the French Caribbean) consists of five different islands: Basse-Terre, Grande-Terre, Marie-Galante, Les Saintes, and La Désirade. To give you a taste we are going to take you on an island hopping tour so we can enjoy together the extremely colourful and luscious local specialties.
The main island is often referred to as “the butterfly island” and actually represents two islands, Basse-Terre and Grande-Terre, connected with a bridge. While most of the tourists are sunbathing on the gorgeous white sand beaches in Sainte-Anne on Grande-Terre, we will start our journey on a spice tour in Basse-Terre.
On our first stop let’s walk between cacao trees, under hanging cacao pods, and hear more about the cacao history of the island. The small and cosy Maison du Cacao, an open air garden museum in Pointe-Noire, is a real island gem (at least when one forgets about the mosquitoes, so please bring your repellent spray).
Coffee and cacao were introduced to Guadeloupe between the 17th and 18th centuries, and at that time their production overtook that of tobacco and indigo. However, cacao’s large-scale cultivation stopped when sugarcane fields took over the island.
Sightseeing can make you hungry so let’s see what the local cuisine has to offer. One of the first exotic and unknown dishes you will encounter when stopping for a quick bite or having a meal in a restaurant is a famous starter called accras de morue. These cod-fritter balls with chilies can be of any size, however, watch out – they are addictive (and just a tiny bit heavy if you have more than ten)! Accras de morue match perfectly with a local drink, le rhum agricole.
Your choice of main dishes is going to look like a maze of the French-based Creole language. Fresh seafood platters with local root veggies and spices result in names like marlin/thazard au lait de coco (fish in coconut milk), colombo de poulet (chicken in a Colombo spice mix), and fricassée de chatrou (octopus stewed in tomatoes).
Back on the road, there is more to discover. You can climb the active volcano La Souffriere (1467 metres), go diving with turtles, or simply stroll on the beach.
Last but not least, in the Jardin d’épices next to the village of Bananier, the owner will guide you through the amazing world of exotic spices such as vanilla beans, nutmeg apples, and cardamom. With some of the non-edible but beautiful grains and beans he creates striking necklaces and bracelets which local men and women love to wear. From here we are just a few kilometres away from Trois-Rivieres, where the ferry goes to Les Saintes.
We’ll leave Guadeloupe and continue our journey there in the second instalment of Island Hopping!
Until then acquaint yourself with the Creole language using this little crash course we have prepared for you. With these basics you will be able to enjoy the local cuisine.
|How are you?|
|Who is there?|
|What is that?|
|sa ka maché|
|jòdi la, jòdi jou|
|Ka ki là?|
|Ka sa yé?|
|Comment ca va?|
|de temps en temps|
|Pas de problème|
|Qui est là ?|
|Qu’est-ce que c’est ?|