Updated: Mar 31, 2019
National Dish: Oil Down
Ahhh...Grenada. The Island of Spice. Clearly, I am biased and I think you know what's coming, but: I think it is one of the most beautiful places anywhere in the World. White sandy beaches in the south fall away to black volcanic sandy beaches on the east and west coasts, Grand Anse beach is over 2 miles long, this where many of the hotels are found, and yet they aren't as tall or encroaching as some other resorts on other islands. Heading into the interior of the island, the first thing that hits you is the density and beauty of the tropical rainforest that forms most of the island's centre. The fresh oxygenated air blows gently against your face, taking the scents of wood, leaves, humidity, fruits and spices to you, it is heavenly!
The name Grenada was taken from the Spanish city of Granada and lends a clue to the first European's that laid claim to the island as being the Spanish.
Grenada is about the same size as the Island of Barbados (134.6 square miles), but with about 70,000 less inhabitants and it is a lot less developed. For our British readers, Grenada is a little smaller than the Isle of Wight, just off the south coast of the United Kingdom.
Included in the Island nation of Grenada are six smaller islands lying to the North, including the dependancy island of Carriacou.
The capital is called St George's and is situated to the southeast of the Island in a natural protected cove which is overlooked by a stone fort completed by the French.
The Island is divided into six parishes named after Saints: St George & St David in the south, St John to the west, the largest parish is St Andrew which is to the east and lastly St Patrick to the north/north east and St Mark on the north west coast.
Grenada has lots to offer for an island so small, from beaches to shipwrecks, some of the best diving in the world, 3,800 acres of lush tropical rainforest, natural volcanic springs, treks, whale watching and fishing...and then there's the food...
Known as the Island of Spice, Grenada is literally teaming with life. The diversity of different species of fish is incredible and that is evident by a short walk through the fish market at St George's but better still, during Fish Fridays at Gouyave on Grenada's west coast. One of the beautiful things about Grenada is the harmonious community spirit that is so evident there.
The town of Gouyave is well known for it's dedicated fishermen and each and every Friday, the local fishermen bring in their catch and the main street in Gouyave is transformed into a food market for the evening. The town comes alive to the sound of different sound systems playing calypso or local 'jab jab' soca, the smell of freshly cooked fish, lobster and conch fill the air.
Some of the dishes that are common during Fish Fridays are:
Crab & Callaloo Soup - made from land crabs that are plentiful around the coasts of the island, you will see them scurrying back to their burrows which be riddle into the banks of hills or around the forest floor. The crabs are usually caught using traditional bamboo traps that are similar in their function to that of bottle traps when catching fish, the crab can get up into the trap but only by dislodging the trap door support stick, the trapdoor then drops leaving the crab trapped inside the bamboo stick. The crab is added to wild peppers (sometimes called bird peppers), callaloo (a vegetable similar to spinach), garlic, chive, thyme, parsley, onion, coconut milk and sometimes okra.
Stuffed Red Snapper - A common favourite throughout the Caribbean, the Red Snapper is sometimes baked but usually grilled after being stuffed with various ingredients, depending on the island you are visiting. In Grenada it is common to use a thick paste made from peppers, garlic, onion, thyme, salt, pepper and the zest & juice of a lime. Salavating!
Fish Accras (also called akras or bakes) - these baked beauties are similar to Fried Bakes found elsewhere on the island and are commonly used as a breakfast. A thick batter is made by flaking whichever fish you are using (salted cod is common and works well) and then combining the fish with flour, water and then various other ingredients where you can sort of freestyle depending on your preference and heat tolerance (scotch bonnet peppers do NOT play), before they are deep fried until they turn golden. Eaten with a mango or pineapple relish or with a salad, the Accras pack a punch of flavour.
Lambie Pot - this is the meat from the Conch. Surprisingly pleasant, with a taste not that dissimilar to calamari, the conch meat is taken from the shell, washed using a citrus juice such as lime or lemon juice, before being pounded and then par-boiled to soften the flesh. Then, taking a deep pot the sauce is built from tannias (a yam-like tuber, their equivalent of a potato), butter, hot sauce (often home made), thyme and other herbs, peas, carrots, garlic and lime. This is cooked slowly and sometimes with dumplings. Then added to rice to serve or on its own.
Curried Fried Jacks - Jacks are small bait fish and are often eaten whole. They are gutted and then dried in the heat of the tropical sun before being seasoned with flour, curry powder, black pepper and salt. They are then fried in hot oil and served. Deliciously Moreish!
Heading further into the Island's interior reveals a plethora of natural ingredients waiting to be discovered. Many different tropical fruits grow by the roadside: two different types of mangoes, limes, several species of bananas including lakatan & plantain (known locally as 'figs'), pineapples, guava, oranges, papaya (known locally as 'paw paw'), coconut, noni, soursop, passion fruit, tamarind, star fruit, custard apple, jack fruit, golden apple, sugar cane...the list goes on! The islands of the Caribbean are a chef's dream - a natural plentiful larder of exciting ingredients to play with - and Grenada is no exception.
As well as fruits, coffee has been grown on the island for centuries and you can also find vanilla pods too! There are various vegetables such as onion, callaloo, aubergine, bread fruit, fresh cashew, ackee, cassava, okra, pigeon peas, pumpkin, sorrel, tania (also called eddoe), and cucumber to name a few.
We tasted at least three types of thyme on the island, some with a more citrus flavour and others with a slightly peppery flavour, each can be used to bring out different elements of a dish. There are other local herbs which we are still yet to discover and work on...so watch this space!
Cocoa thrives in the humid and lush conditions within the centre of Grenada. The pods of the tree turn a orangey-brown to reddish brown colour when ripe and once they are split open the seeds of the tree are exposed, surrounded by a creamy pulp that tastes a little like lychee. These are then dried in under the tropical sun on flat trays before being crushed and processed into high quality chocolate of various densities. The Grenada Chocolate Company also make an amazing nutmeg chocolate which is terrific!
Grenada is known as the Island of Spice and for a good reason! One product of the Myristica tree is the nutmeg spice. Grenada is the world's 2nd largest producer of this spice, second only to Indonesia, providing 20% of the world's supply, despite being 344 square kilometres (Indonesia is 1.9 million square kilometres!). Nutmeg and mace are used extensively in desserts and cakes as well as in various cosmetic products.
Other spices found growing from the fertile volcanic south of the island include turmeric, cinnamon, cloves, pepper, all spice (also known as pimento), ginger and bay leaf.
Grenada is known as the 'Isle of Spice' as it produces the largest variety of spices of any island in the world! We are really excited for our Supperclub next month as we are exploring the two spices that make up our namesake 'Myristica': Nutmeg and Mace. Nutmeg reminds me of a mix between cinnamon and pepper...simply beautiful! Mace is used in many cakes and pastries and has is slightly more pungent & spicy than nutmeg. It is the vivid red fronds that grows around the nutmeg pod. We have some real treats in store for you in April...and what's more we only have two tickets left...so why not treat your partner to a special date night...Caribbean style!
All in all, Grenada is less developed than other islands and that makes it a great place to visit. The people are hospitable and polite, keen to welcome tourists and have a great sense of humour. British Airways have direct flights (well...via St Lucia) twice weekly (Wednesdays and Saturdays) from Heathrow and Virgin Airways also...so what are you waiting for?!