Travellers’ Tastebuds Lured To Aruba As New Promotion Is Cooked Up
Travellers’ tastebuds are being lured to the Dutch Caribbean island of Aruba as it plans to showcase its cuisine with the launch of a new restaurant week.
Participating restaurants across the island will offer lunch for US$15 (about £10) and dinner for $30 to $40 (£20 to £26). No vouchers or passes are required as diners can just turn up and order from the specified menus. Reservations are, however, recommended to ensure a table at a favourite restaurant.
The week is an initiative from the Aruba Tourism Authority to highlight the island’s varied flavours and promote locally-inspired dishes. Food is increasingly important to travellers, with research showing that more than three-quarters of holidaymakers can be classified as ‘culinary travellers’ as they have participated in food-related activities, such as cooking classes or food festivals, in addition to enjoying their destination’
Aruba’s high quality cuisine is a melting pot of nationalities. This cosmopolitan island’s local population is boosted by those who have moved from more than 80 different countries and, combined with its colourful past, this mix is reflected in its food.
Today’s typical Aruban cuisine is still influenced by the food of the original Arawak and Carib Indians, as well as the imported products of merchants, pirates and successive conquerors from The Netherlands, Spain, Britain, Portugal and France. Traditional dishes of African slaves and Asian servants have spiced it up, too.
Today award-winning chefs from around the globe are adding new and exciting dimensions to the stewpot, with traditional favourites acquiring a new look and taste.
As an island in the Caribbean, Aruba’s menu naturally strongly features fish. Try the local seafood soup and freshly-caught choices will include wahoo, red snapper, mahi-mahi and barracuda. These will be prepared in a variety of ways including pan-fried, blackened, grilled and meuniere.
A creole sauce of tomatoes, peppers and onions is a favourite and goes with many dishes. Other typical Aruban dishes include a stew of beef (carni di baca stoba in Aruba local Papiamento language), chicken (galina stoba) or the sweeter goat meat (cabrito stoba), served with rice and beans (arroz moro) or cornmeal mash (funchi).
Fish creole (pisca hasa crioyo) is a traditional Aruban creole dish still prepared in many homes and restaurants on the island. It’s deliciously simple: pan-fried slices of fresh fish fillet, served in a basic sauce of onion, tomato, bell pepper and garlic.
Walking around local shops visitors are also bound to spot in grocery and convenience stores and snack bars pastechi, a classic Aruba snack, which really should be sampled. It is made by stuffing a pocket of slightly sweetened dough with cheese and then deep-frying it to a crispy finish. Other savoury fillings include ham, beef, chicken and fish.
The overseas influence in Aruban cuisine is more clearly seen with such dishes as bami and nasi goring rice, saté with peanut sauce and Dutch pea soup.
For centuries Arubans cooked on an open hearth, called a fongo, so all food was either stewed or fried. That explains why Arubans did not originally eat bread, cooking instead pan bati (Aruban pancake) and funchi, the cornmeal mash or polenta and still served today.
For more information about Aruba, go to www.aruba.com