The Food of Dominica

September 1st, 2008 by Katya

Hello wonderful people!

If you know me, then you know I love food. Ever since I was a little kid, I loved food. Whether it was my mother’s kick ass zucchini bread or my brother’s fantastic seafood soup (by the way, I am putting a request in for some yummy soup this Christmas, pleeeeeeeeeeaaaaaaaaaaase), I have always loved food. Just one more example, cause I think its so appropriate here. I would talk about the tasty dinners I ate with one of my classmates in my advanced literature class in 7th and 8th grade.

So when I discovered that I was gluten intolerant (gluten intolerance is an autoimmune condition where the body attacks itself when gluten, a protein found in wheat, rye and barley, is ingested), I was totally bummed out. But over the past 8 mos, I have been trying to eat well and take care of myself. When I encountered a food I could not eat, I found ways to get around my digestion issues and continue to eat well. I still have a long way to go, but I hope to be baking and eating pasta for a long time to come.

Now I find myself in another interesting situation. I am attending medical school in the Caribbean. Its been crazy since arriving. I arrived late Thurs night and I was hungry. I was happy that I packed some gluten free sandwiches to get me through the plane ride, but I was rationing my granola bars and I had to get some grub. I went to a local Chinese food restaurant (for people with gluten intolerance, Chinese food can be a loaded gun since the food is dripping in yummy wheat-full sauces). I explained to the gentleman, that I couldn’t have any sauce (which totally confused him) and if he could just steam the ingredients. When it arrived, it was so bland. All I could do, was cover it in Sarachi sauce.

The next day, I ate the remaining granola bars and I can’t even remember what I had for dinner, but I was starving. Sat morning came as a great relief and I went to the Portsmouth Market at 6 am! I arrived and I immediately started oggling all the different ingredients, many that I had never seen before). I bought so many things, my new Ross bag ripped. I know that as long as I eat local food, I will be fine. Lots of medical students say I won’t have time to cook, but for me, I have no choice. Personally, I see it as an opportunity to experiment and learn about the incredible Caribbean cuisine. Enjoy my pictures below.

(right to left) basil, papaya, celeriac, parsley, Irish potato, dasheen (like a potato)

Also have some garlic, onions, and star fruit

Calabaza (pumpkin), onions, peppers, limes, ginger

Plantains and avocado

Peppers, ginger, string beans, citronella, star apple, basil, cucumbers

Spinach, eggs

Spinach, Caribbean papaya

Star fruit

Ackee (releases a poisonous gas if pried open)

Star Apple

2 Responses to “The Food of Dominica”

  1. Dorothy Says:

    Hello Katya,

    I will be on vacation in Dominica for 3 weeks next year, and hope to stay in a place with a kitchen. I want to take full advantage of the fresh produce that is locally available, but 3 weeks isn’t really enough time to justify stocking up on a huge variety of recipe items.

    To supplement the fresh stuff….Do you know of anywhere at all in Dominica where I would be able to purchase gluten-free pasta or bread? I usually bring some basic supplies with me when I travel, but it’s a challenge due to weight and luggage restrictions on airlines.

    I am glad that you are adjusting to the gluten-free diet. It can be a major inconvenience sometimes, but a look at all the wonderful fresh food in your pictures is a good reminder of all the really good things that we CAN eat….. Dorothy, Canada

  2. Katya Says:

    Dorothy-

    First off, I want to apologize for taking so long to respond. I let my blog go by the wayside because I was taking a slew of medical school exams. You’re probably back from your vacation and realized the lack of gluten free items available here.

    However, I make do without a lot of gluten free items on the island. For dinner, I prepare rice, corn meal, potatoes, etc as a side dish to my main meal. I agree about the weight restriction which makes it harder to travel gluten free. I always assume that I won’t be able to pick up gluten free items when I travel and so I pack a gluten free pasta and some gluten free crackers. Usually, this doesn’t take up too much room and helps me in a pinch.

    I hope your trip was a success minus the advice. Dominica is a beautiful island with lots of tasty things to take the place of wheat, rye and barley. Did you try cassava, dashin (sp?) and plantains? Or the myriad of fruits? Maybe some fish? I rarely make it to the markets early enough to get some. Or the fresh chicken, best chicken stock I’ve ever prepared. I have witnesses.

    Thanks for reading my entry and for the well wishes on the GF diet. Its definitely a pain at times, but I try and eat great food everyday. I am so grateful when I eat a melon and embrace how tasty it is or when I prepare a delicious GF meal, that non GF dieters love!

    I would love to hear about your trip!

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