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Curacao Cuisine

Netherlands Antilles are a group of islands situated in the Caribbean sea. The islands’ cuisine reflects perfectly the great mixture of people and culture existing here and how each one brings along their own influence. During the time people like French, Dutch, English and Spanish left their mark over Netherlands Antilles cuisine. This way traditional food customs vary from one island to another, but despite this they all are made using as a base the Caribbean Creole cuisine.

Curaçao's diverse culture and eclectic cuisine reflect the different backgrounds and nationalities of its inhabitants. Food plays a major part in the heritage of the local people, and the island's dishes are as diverse as this population of 45 different nationalities.

The island and its cuisine are predominately influenced by Dutch culture. The Dutch people use a lot of fresh seafood and cheeses in their traditional dishes. Island locals have taken this cuisine and combined it with several other styles of cooking to make a food culture all their own. Curaçao's authentic meals are a blend of Dutch, Creole, and other international foods, mixed together with a touch of local flavour. Some of the most delicious local entrées include funchi, or half and half, which is a polenta-like side dish made of half cornmeal pudding and half rice; pika hasa, a yummy Curaçaoan seafood dish of red snapper; and a Dutch national dish called keshi yena, which is a savoury meal of Gouda cheese stuffed with meat or fish. One of the local favourites is iguana stew. The ubiquitous side dish is fried plantain. Other Dutch specialities include croquettes and oliebollen.

Indonesian culture has also influenced the cuisine of Curaçao. Islanders have taken this influence and combined it with Dutch cuisine, making for some unique and tasty fare. One of the most simple and popular Indonesian meals that has been adopted by Curaçaoans is rijisttafel, which means "rice table". Rice is combined with fish or meat and vegetables, along with a kick from a spicy sauce made of fresh chillies.

Other popular dishes include: stobá (a stew made with various ingredients such as papaya, beef or goat), guiambo (soup made from okra and seafood), kadushi (cactus soup), sopi mondongo (intestine soup), and a lot of fish and other seafood.

Local bread rolls are made according to a Portuguese recipe. All around the island, there are snèk which serve local dishes as well as alcoholic drinks in a manner akin to the English public house. The ubiquitous breakfast dish is pastechi: fried pastry with fillings of cheese, tuna, ham, or ground meat.

Around the holiday season special dishes are consumed, such as the hallaca and pekelé, made out of salt cod.

At weddings and other special occasions a variety of kos dushi are served: kokada (coconut sweets), ko'i lechi (condensed milk and sugar sweet) and tentalaria (peanut sweets).

Black cake (bolo pretu) is one of the favourites desserts for special occasions on the main island.

The island is also popular for its Curaçao liqueur, which was discovered by accident. Now, people all over the world enjoy this beverage made from the peels of the bitter Lahara orange. Spaniards had brought juicy sweet Valencia oranges to the island, but the fruit was unable to flourish because of the differences in climate. This difference changed the flavour of the citrus, transforming the sweet Valencia orange into the sour Lahara orange. Decades later, it was discovered that the peel of Lahara oranges contains sweet-smelling oils that could be used to make the Curaçao liqueur. The oils were combined with exotic spices, which resulted in the beverage that millions of people enjoy today.

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