St. Eustatius, also known as Statia, is a small island in the Caribbean and a special municipality of the Netherlands. Its cuisine is a unique blend of local, Dutch, and Caribbean influences, reflecting the island's diverse history and cultural heritage. Traditional dishes and eating habits on St. Eustatius are characterized by a strong focus on fresh ingredients, seafood, and local produce.
National Dish: When visiting Statia, be sure to try their most popular dish of goat meat, rice and peas with local ground provisions. The provisions are a variety of starchy root vegetables, such as yams, plantains, green bananas and sweet potatoes. This delicious meal is enjoyed by locals and visitors alike.
Goat Water: This is a rich, flavorful stew made with goat meat, vegetables, and spices. It is often served with rice, funchi (cornmeal), or breadfruit.
Conch and Dumplings: Also a popular dish in St. Eustatius, it consists of tender conch (a type of sea snail) cooked in a savory broth, served with homemade dumplings. The conch is typically seasoned with local spices and herbs.
Johnny Cakes: A staple in many Caribbean islands, Johnny Cakes are deep-fried dough balls, made from a mix of flour, sugar, and baking powder. They can be served as a side dish, snack, or breakfast item, and are often accompanied by saltfish, a traditional dish made from salted cod which is soaked and boiled to remove excess salt. It is then sautéed with onions, tomatoes, garlic, and various spices. Saltfish can be served alongside Johnny Cakes or even as a filling within the cakes. This combination provides a delicious mix of flavors, making it a popular choice in Statia and other Caribbean islands.
Funchi: A cooked cornmeal dish similar to polenta is often served with saltfish. This traditional dish is popular in the Dutch Caribbean islands. To prepare funchi, cornmeal is mixed with water and salt, then cooked on the stovetop while stirring continuously to avoid lumps. Once it reaches a thick consistency, it is poured into a mold or container and allowed to set. After cooling and setting, it is cut into slices or shapes and can be served as a side dish alongside saltfish, meat, fish, or vegetables.
A Delicious Dessert - Coconut Tart: A sweet and delicious dessert, this tart is made with a mix of grated coconut, sugar, and spices, baked in a pastry shell. It's a favorite on the island, often enjoyed during celebrations and gatherings.
Statians typically enjoy three main meals throughout the day - breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Breakfast often consists of simple fare like bread, fruit, or porridge, while lunch and dinner are more substantial meals featuring rice, meat, or fish. The island's tropical climate ensures a wide variety of fruits and vegetables are available year-round, which are often incorporated into meals.
Fish and seafood are abundant in St. Eustatius, and as such, they are prominent in the local diet. Fish is typically grilled, fried, or stewed, and served with rice or other side dishes. It is not uncommon to see meats and fish being cooked on outdoor grills and sometimes by vendors selling at an events such as taste of the cultures. Quick bites such as pizza, fried chicken, chips and other fast food items are convenient indulgences.
Traditional spices and herbs like thyme, scallions, and hot peppers are commonly used to flavor dishes, and homemade sauces like pepper sauce and creole sauce are often served on the side.
The island's history of trade and colonization has brought people from various backgrounds to St. Eustatius, which has contributed to the rich and diverse culinary landscape. With over 50 different cultures represented on the island, the cuisine is a fusion of flavors and ingredients from around the world. Traditional dishes often combine spices and flavors from African, Dutch, French, British, and other Caribbean influences.
The cuisine of St. Eustatius is a delightful blend of flavors and culinary traditions, with fresh ingredients and bold flavors at the heart of its dishes.