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10 unforgettable flavors from Guadeloupe (and the West Indies)

French Creole cuisine is always associated with the famous colombo (not to be confused with Columbo the inspector), a kind of curry. But Guadeloupe has much more to offer to the foodies than this classic (even if colombo is a really nice dish). Here are 10 unforgettable flavors from the West Indies that I will from now on always associate with the beautiful beaches and coconut trees of Guadeloupe.  

1. Accras

Accras de poisson, Guadeloupe

Unmissable, accras are on the menu of almost every restaurant and lolo (small beach restaurant) of Guadeloupe. Accras are fish or crab fritters mixed with spices and chillies. They’re usually served as an appetizer, sometimes with a spicy sauce on the side. It’s the kind of delicacy you can’t resist to devour as soon as it hits the table…

2. Planteur, Ti Punch & fruit punch

Différentes sortes de punchs, Guadeloupe

In Guadeloupe, all roads lead to rum! You can taste it in various ways and there are tons of flavors! If you like strong alcohol, Ti Punch (white rum served with brown sugar and lime) is a must. In Guadeloupe, they’ll serve you a glass with sugar, a piece of lime and… the bottle of rum: you have to pour it yourself.

If you prefer long drink, try Planteur, a mix of rum and fruit juice. Sooo refreshing.

And don’t hesitate to sample the various homemade fruit & spice punch you’ll spot in the local markets (be careful, it’s quite strong sometimes!)…

3. Coco, mango, passion fruit sorbet

Sorbet coco, Trois Rivières, Guadeloupe

Wherever you go in Guadeloupe (except maybe on the top of the Soufrière), you’ll spot people busy turning a crank on a kind of small red wooden barrel. It’s not a strange kind of music instrument but what they use to make sorbet. They put a mix of ice and sea salt (to prevent it from melting too fast) in the sides of the barrel and juice or syrup in the central part. Then they have to turn for about 20 minutes and tadaaa, sorbet is ready! Sorbets are served in a plastic cup that is put to full. The main difficulty: eating it fast enough because it melts very quickly!

4. Poulet boucané (smoked chicken)

Poulet boucané, Guadeloupe

When you drive through villages with open window, you’ll inevitably smell smoked barbecued meat (very difficult to resist if you’re hungry). Try the “poulet boucané”, marinated chicken smoked in a barbecue, sometimes with sugar cane. It’s served with rice and sauce chien (see below), gratins or fries…

5. Flan coco

Flan coco, Guadeloupe

Try it once and you will never forget it! This dessert reminded me of the rice tarts we cook in my region. You’ll find flan coco in bakeries and restaurants. Sometimes it looks like a tart, other times like a flan with caramel or chocolate sauce.

6. Ouassous

Ouassous, Guadeloupe

These freshwater prawns (the name “ouassou” probably derives from the French “roi des sources” or “king of the springs”) are served grilled or with a sauce. Note that it’s forbidden to fish wild ouassous in Guadeloupe now so you’ll only get ouassous from local hatcheries (and it’s generally a Malaysian breed) or imported from Asia. We’ve eaten it just once, in the hatchery of Pointe-Noire.

7. Fresh fruits (juice)

Régime de bananes, Domaine Vanibel, Guadeloupe

You may want to wait a little bit before eating those ones 😉

Nothing compares to a delicious banane-pomme (a very little but tasty banana), a mangue Julie (a small mango) or a freshly plucked malacca apple. In Guadeloupe, you’ll find an infinite variety of fruits! Just stop at a booth on the side of the road and marvel at the number of fruits you had never heard about!

Don’t miss the local fruit juice! So refreshing on the beach!

8. Bokits and agoulous

Marchand de bokits, Guadeloupe

It’s the island street food! Bokits are sold in food trucks. It’s a fried dough sandwich filled with the filling of your choice: meat, eggs, ham, cheese, fish… Eat one and you won’t have to eat for a few hours 😀

Take some time to choose a nice food truck  (look where locals go) because a badly cooked bokit is a kind a greasy sponge. Not very tasty!

Agoulou means voracity in Creole. But it’s also a big sandwich with a flat grilled bread. We’ve tried those of a truck called… Agoulou in Basse-Terre because we spotted a loooong line of people waiting to order. It was very nice so we recommend it (but you have to be patient!).

Agoulou cheese, Guadeloupe

9. The Bonifieur, high quality coffee

Cerises de café, Domaine Vanibel, Guadeloupe

Coffee cherries at Vanibel in Vieux-Habitants

Guadeloupe used to be renowned for its excellent coffee but eventually favored the production of banana and sugar cane (easier and faster to produce). But finding high quality coffee producers is still possible, especially in the area of Vieux-Habitants. They grow a coffee called “bonifieur” (“bonifier” means “to improve” in French, it’s called that way because it was used to enhance lower quality blends), the ancestor of the Jamaïcan “Blue Mountain”. Take the time to drink a cup of this exceptional coffee, for example at Vanibel, a producer of a 100% Arabica that will seduce all coffee lovers (and take the opportunity to visit the domain).

10. Tasty and spicy dressings

Sauces de Guadeloupe

Sauce chien is a classic condiment of French Creole cuisine. Despite of its name (“chien” means dog in French), it has nothing to do with a dog (but rather with the brand of a knife, used to prepare the ingredients). It’s made from onions, young onions, chillies (sometimes sweet ones), oil, lime and you eat it with grilled meat. I just love it!

Sample the chilly sauce as well (but be careful, it’s really really hot!!!).

I could have mentioned…

  • conch (called “lambi”): this large sea snail is considered a delicacy. I haven’t tried it because it was not the right season (they fish it from october to january) and I didn’t want to eat frozen or illegally fished ones (the conch is threatened by overfishing and it’s strictly forbidden to fish it outside the official period but I’ve seen it on almost every restaurant menus of Guadeloupe in May);
  • crab fed with chillies, fruits and coco (didn’t get the chance to try it) ;
  • christophine (a local squash) or banana gratin ;
  • boudin créole (black pudding) ;
  • and a lot of other things of course!

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