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7 misconceptions about Antillean cuisine

7 misconceptions about Antillean cuisine

door Linda Terrizzi

At the time of writing, we have been working for about 6 years to raise awareness of Antillean cuisine in the Netherlands. In 2012, we started documenting the most famous recipes. This soon resulted in a large database of Antillean recipes. 

At the end of 2014 we started making snacks, cakes and meals to order. We provided Christmas lunches for companies and buffets for weddings and anniversaries. Undoubtedly new people have come into contact with our tasty dishes in this way.

In 2015, the demand for a “tangible” collection of recipes was so great that we decided to publish our first cookbook. As you know that was a huge success! At the moment there are of 'nos Kushina Krioyo' sold over 10.000 copies worldwide. Later we added voegde 2 books to the range and we were able to welcome more than 200.000 website visitors (and 100.000 Facebook followers) every month. That is a large group of people who are interested in our 'Krioyo' kitchen!

Over the years we have been able to meet wonderful people. We also always really enjoy the reactions we get to recipes and to our concept in general. But… we have noticed that our kitchen is not nearly as well known as we would like. And there are also quite a few misconceptions about it.

We have listed the 7 most common misconceptions. We hear this so often that we decided to dedicate an article to it. Because maybe there are many more people who (still) think about our kitchen:

1 | Antilleans do not eat vegetables

I get it… you paid close attention to what is served in restaurants and 'snèks' and you have come to this conclusion. Huge trays of rice and meat are flying over the counter. chicken, fish, beef stew – with a very generous portion of fried rice or funchi. And usually these dishes are accompanied by a slice of tomato and two slices of cucumber. By way of vegetable… or decoration, who knows?

Yet it is a misconception that our kitchen has no vegetables. Maybe we just hide them better. Our stews and soups contain all kinds of vegetables that are cut into small pieces. Bell pepper, onion, garlic, tomato… that is the basis of most dishes and sauces. In some dishes, the vegetables are even the star: Delicious okras in the jambo en stewed string beans of White cabbage, for example.

That people eat few vegetables is therefore a personal preference, often even for an economic reason: vegetables can be very expensive in the Antilles. Many vegetables are imported by ship and prices can sometimes be 3 or 4 times higher than in the Netherlands.

Antillean pika recipe pika papaya pica natural2 | Antillean food is highly seasoned

Antilleans like to use pika, but… to taste! Some people choose to use the pika (or finely chopped Madame Jeanette pepper) in their dishes, but most have to choose to add it afterwards for one reason or another. Maybe children eat with it, or people who don't like 'spicy'. Then it is best to put the 'pika' on the table in a jar, so that everyone can choose how much they want to use.

In addition to this Antillean sambal, not much use is made of strong-tasting herbs or spices. Most of our dishes and sauces are made from vegetables. Onion, garlic, bell pepper and tomato – we make the tastiest things with them.

Spices are used, but to a much lesser extent than, for example, in Eastern or Surinamese cuisine.

3 | Antillean cuisine is unhealthy

This brings us back to point 1… no vegetables, lots of fried snacks and then those pies! There is a good chance that you came into contact with our kitchen at a party. And at a party we (just like most people) eat less healthy indeed.

Our cakes are very powerful, but you usually don't get a full point from them. And after such a party where you taste delicious pastechi, Johnny Cakes en cheese balls eat, you return home and then normal life begins again. It was fun, but now we 'just' eat a plate with rice and tasty stewed vegetables with meat… or a fresh s! As with so many things: everything in moderation.

4 | Roti is an Antillean dish

Very often we get the question “when will we finally publish the recipe for Roti”. How is it possible that such a classic is still missing from the database? The answer is very simple: Roti is a Surinamese dish!

The dish has its roots in India and is best known in the Netherlands from the Surinamese corner. Roti is also eaten on islands such as Jamaica and Trinidad & Tobago. In the (Netherlands) Antilles, the influence from India is much less strong. Roti is therefore not a well-known dish from our kitchen.

5 | Antillean snacks are far too expensive

So… you went looking for an Antillean caterer and you looked at the price list. That scared you. because Antillean croquettes are more expensive than Dutch croquettes… and our cheese balls cost maybe twice as much as bitterballen. "Isn't that normal?" And then those cakes. A cashew pie costs as much as 10 cakes from Albert Heijn. “Explain that!”

Well, dear reader, it's like this: Simply put, the difference lies in the fact that Dutch snacks come from a box… and Antillean snacks don't. The snack bar around the corner buys its croquettes from the wholesaler. They come 50 at a time in a cardboard box and can go straight into the freezer. They only cost the owner some money, but he doesn't have to make them himself. When a customer orders croquettes, they are briefly placed in the deep-fat fryer and that was it.

Antillean croquettes (or cheese balls, bitterballen of pastechi) are made by hand without exception. First the filling is prepared. Then the dough. And then the snacks and dishes are carefully composed. That takes a lot of time. Not to forget that there are no 'scary ingredients' (chicken separated meat, hello?) in Antillean snacks, but only 'basics' are used.

So no preservatives or E numbers, but just according to an old-fashioned recipe. And yes, it does cost a bit more than a croquette that comes straight out of the factory.

Antillean cuisine iguana sopi yuana6 | In the Antilles they eat strange meats

No more than in other countries! When I think of 'unknown' meats (because that sounds weird… weird!) 3 things come to mind: that must be the iguana, the karkó and the goat to be. Now I want to immediately delete the goat from the list, as lamb is often eaten in the Netherlands and the two do not really differ that much from each other.

The karkó is called 'crown snail' in Dutch. It is a shellfish that is often found in the sea around the Caribbean. So a snail. Just like snails are eaten in many European countries. 'Ours' is only a size bigger and comes from the sea.

Iguanas are indeed animals that are not often eaten. However, they were so common in the Antilles that it was decided to catch them and use them in dishes. To this day you can find soup or stews with iguana there. It might be a bit cliche, but… it actually tastes like chicken!

7 | The ingredients for 'Krioyo' recipes are hard to find

That's better than expected! You can buy most of our ingredients in the supermarket and for a few things you can go to a Surinamese or Chinese toko. Now I live in a village where there is no shop. The only things I can't find here in 'the United States of Sliedrecht' are okra, goat and cod. For that I drive to the nearest town and then I find them with ease.

So… in 9 out of 10 cases, you can manage just fine with what you can find in the supermarket. And for those few ingredients that remain, there is 'the toko'.

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