In Guadaloupe: Blaff, Lambi, Chatrou....
The cuisine of Guadeloupe is simple and unpretentious, a delicious blend that has absorbed influences from all the peoples who have lived there. It has borrowed spices from the East and from Africa, and vegetables and fruits from the Carib Indians and Aztecs to create a culinary mix with many flavors, strong sensations and colorful language, like the people who live there.
When Christopher Columbus landed in 1493, he was offered a slice of pineapple to quench his thirst after so much time at sea. He noted that the natives even made wine from the juice. The pineapple continues to be a sign of welcome and hospitality, a gift of the land to the heart.
Fritters made from cod, pumpkin and malanga, and shrimp are served as appetizers with punch, accompanied by a spicy rougaille sauce. Stuffed crabs start the meal, followed by grilled lobsters, lambi or chatou.
The real heart of the French West Indies is discovered when you have a glass of rum in your hand, a product of sugar cane, but also of slavery. The Rum Museum in Ste. Rose in Guadeloupe tells this passionate and colorful story that brings to mind tales of piracy and derring-do. Still today, life in Guadeloupe moves to the rhythm of the sugar cane.
You have to head to the market early in the morning, among the crooning doudous (women), for a vanilla bean or a cinnamon stick. It's a cacaphony of sound, scents and colors. The mild pale green onions stand in contrast to the fiery peppers that seem to be burned red by the sun and which find their way into every dish.
West Indian cooking means making a bouquet of chive, parsley, thyme and bay rum. But above all, it's colombo powder, a curry blend that offers a wonderful range of island flavors, an enticing mixture without which goat, pork or chicken wouldn't have the same magical taste.
In Guadeloupe, cod sets the tone and is essential in accras; it's shredded or turned into sauce, served in a gratin or used to stuff avocados.
The lively and colourful Fête des Cuisinières has been taking place for 90 years. This is the best time to discover and taste local specialties—and hear great music!
Every year, on the Saturday closest to the 10th of August, the Guadeloupe chefs' association (Association des Cuisinières de Guadeloupe) organises a rally in Pointe-à-Pitre to celebrate St. Lawrence, the patron saint of cooks. The women of the island go to mass at the cathedral, dressed in their splendid dresses, headdresses, and madras, in order to bless their dishes, carefully aligned at the foot of the altar in baskets decorated with flowers. Pastry cooks then began a long procession through the streets of the city, baskets on their arm or head, until the hour when everyone gathers for a huge banquet, with traditional songs and dances. This is an essential moment of popular life in Pointe-à-Pitre not to be missed!
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