Taste for the Tropics

Healthy and delicious island flavors you can create at home.

One of my favorite parts of vacation is learning about foods from other cultures and the delicious things we can adapt from them. The Hermitage, one of the oldest plantation houses on the Caribbean island of Nevis, has served a West Indian buffet every Wednesday for over 20 years.

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The dinner demonstrated just how innovative the people of this island are when incorporating traditional and healthy foods like sweet potatoes, plantains, maize (corn), pumpkin, cassava (yucca), bananas, coconuts, mangoes, papayas, conch, oysters and snapper into their recipes. Some of the many dishes I enjoyed were lime conch cakes, chickpea stew, stuffed pumpkin and curried mahi mahi, all made with local ingredients. There was also a roast suckling pig, which other guests raved about, but I decided that wasn't something I'd ever want to make at home.

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Plantains are almost always fried in oil, so when I returned from vacation I was happy to find a delicious Family Circle tostones recipe in which we just bake them. The specialty drink of the island, rum punch, has a number of variations. It was made famous by Sunshine's Beach Bar & Grill; their version is known as the killer bee.

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Here's our more tame version.