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what's your (Caribbean) flavour?!

Long-serving Chef Manager Craig Lumley is one of the most enthusiastic, supportive and reliable faces at Blue Apple. Always willing to lend a hand and get stuck in, Craig is a firm favourite with his loyal customers. When he's not working, he's also a keen traveller, with a penchant for the Caribbean sunshine...

Over the years I have been lucky enough to have travelled to a number of different countries. In the early years I covered Europe, America, Canada, Brazil and Australia. However, in the last 30 years myself and (my wife) Shirley have fallen in love with the Caribbean and have spent time on a number of the islands including, but not limited to; Barbados, Trinidad, Tobago, Grenada, Dominica and St Vincent, and this year we’re looking forward to hitting Turks and Caicos.

During our journeys I have made it a hobby of obtaining a cookbook from each island and reading up on the cooking and cuisine culture.

Following Columbus’s discovery of the West Indies in the 1490’s, the 1600-mile-long crescent of islands stretching from Jamaica in the north to Trinidad in the south were quickly colonised by Spain, Britain, France, the Netherlands, and to a lesser extent Denmark and Sweden.

Each colonial power established its own style of customs, architecture, agriculture and cuisine, and if this wasn’t enough, this also began to include the tastes and flavours of Africa and later India, as well as the cooking influences of the native inhabitants.

Whichever island you travel to the roti wrap or patty are a popular food of the Caribbean. These consist of curried or stewed meat and vegetables folded tightly within a dhalpuri or paratha roti bread or short pastry, originally brought to the islands from India. Rumour has it that the patty evolved over the years from the humble Cornish pastie which was introduced to the islands by British sailors back in the 1800’s (but this is just a rumour!)

During our journeys I have made it a hobby of obtaining a cookbook from each island and reading up on the cooking and cuisine culture.

As you would expect exotic fruits, tropical vegetables, spices and seafood are abundant, and all contribute to the unique cuisine of the islands. Most savoury dishes are highly seasoned with freshly-picked spices, hot pepper sauces, garlic and coconut. If you visit the markets in the small towns, you will see piles of huge golden pumpkins, bundles of hot chilies, fibrous coconuts, gigantic dark green callaloo leaves, fists of black plantains, and the ubiquitous yams, sweet potatoes, cassava, breadfruit, okra and christophenes. Alongside clay cooking pots and local basket ware for sale; we could really do with more of these markets in the UK!

To experience the real atmosphere of the Caribbean and sample the native foods, you must visit one of these colourful, bustling markets or eat at one of the many roadside stands or family-run rum shacks (don’t get me started on the rum). This is where the best and most authentic Caribbean food is usually to be discovered, far away from the tourist beaches and hotels.

So if you ever get the chance to visit the Caribbean seek out the wonderful foods, flavours and culture, take it to your heart and enjoy the vibe and laid back life style that exists in this beautiful part of the world.


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