One of the things I love about going back to the Virgin Islands is all the delicious foods that I get to eat. Many foods I grew up feasting on and others not so much. But that’s how the story goes right? Taste buds grow and mature and I am happy that they do.
Actually when I travel, my favorite way to really dig into a culture is with my mouth and both hands if I can. I recommend that you do the same. Cups, mugs and key chains don’t really tell you a lot about a destination. But dig into a big plate of local cuisine and you’ve got something.
Visiting Wyoming? You should try the huckleberry jam. Traveling to Richmond? Get a taste of Sugar Shack Donuts. They certainly are a tasty treat. Oh and I can’t say enough yummy things about Beach Plum Kitchen in Carlsbad, California. That place really gets my taste buds salivating.
And, if you really want to travel like a local on a trip to the Virgin Islands, there are several foods that are definite must tries. I’ve rounded up a few of my favorites to get your taste buds yearning and belly growling.
Passion Fruit Juice
There are several local drinks and juices to choose from but I’ve got a thing for passion fruit juice. There is something about the tart mixed with sweet that just works. Once you taste it, you’ll know why.
If you are looking for a baked dessert to curb your sweet tooth then a slice of tart is the way to go. The mainstays are coconut, guava and pineapple. Thomas Bakery on St. Croix has mini tarts as well as other local baked goods like coconut drops and “titi bread” that will cure your carb cravings.
Island Cole Slaw
I am not sure how Virgin Islanders came to have such an affinity for coleslaw but one thing is for sure, Virgin Islands coleslaw is not the stuff that you purchase at the deli counter and it’s not the coleslaw that comes as a side at your favorite fried chicken restaurant.
I know what you’re thinking…it has pineapple or some other tropical fruit in it right? Nope. It doesn’t. The good news is you don’t have plan a trip to the Virgin Islands to give this coleslaw a try. Try the Virgin Islands coleslaw recipe here.
Since the Virgin Islands is surrounded by beautiful beaches, you can expect a wide array of tasty fish and seafood in the local diet. You’d be remiss if you didn’t try the Caribbean lobster which is succulent and slightly sweet.
What makes Caribbean lobster different from Maine lobster?
Caribbean lobsters are clawless. So if claw meat is your thing then I’m sorry, you are out of luck. But I promise you won’t miss out on flavor.
Old Wife Fish
The locals call it “old wife” or actually “ole wife”. Some people even refer to this fish as the “President’s fish” as former President Clinton, ordered it on a visit to St. Thomas while in office. A truly local Virgin Islands restaurant will have ole wife on the menu.
Salt Fish is yet another delicious island favorite and is easy to find on menus as well.
Fried bread. That’s really what it’s like. Instead of being baked, the yeast-free dough is dropped into hot oil and cooked until the outside is golden but, the inside is like soft airy pillows of goodness. The smell of johnny cakes cooking at my house brings about laughing and sometimes singing and dancing. It’s quite funny to watch it unfold. Johnny cake is eaten mostly for breakfast and alongside lunch and dinner as well.
If I’m honest I’ll tell you that if there are johnny cakes in the house, I will also nosh on them when I want a snack. Not a healthy snack. Just a snack.
I’ve discovered a few local spots where you can get a good local breakfast with an accompanying johnny cake so that you can leave with your stomach full. One such restaurant is Martha’s Deli in Fredricksted, St. Croix and it’s the real deal.
Insider tip for Martha’s Deli: take the food to go and leave the credit cards at home.
In St. Thomas, the Delly Deck is one of the places you can get a hot local breakfast. There is lots of space to dine in the restaurant and credit cards are welcome.
So what do you think? Are you ready to dig into these mouth-watering island favorites? This is just a small taste of what you can look forward to on your trip. If you have already been to the Virgin Islands, what are your favorite local foods?
Leave a comment and tell me where I can get it. There is nothing like a good old fashioned food crawl to get a vacation started right.
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