Food plays a central role in family life and traditions in the islands. Cooks spend days preparing menu offerings for holidays, festivals, and special family gatherings. The cuisine of the Caribbean is like a cultural patchwork quilt. Each “patch” or dish represents the plentiful bounty of the islands' lush tropical vegetation, combined with the one or more diverse groups of people that have lived there, including the original Carib and Arawak Indians, followed by the Spanish, British, French, and Dutch settlers, as well as Africans, who have had a profound influence on the food and cultural traditions of the islands. Later followed Indian and Chinese settlers, and travelers from the United States.
Caribbean recipes combine African, Amerindian, French, East Indian, and Spanish styles of cooking. These traditions are a reflection of the early settlers of the region. Rice is the staple of a Caribbean meal and isn't complete without a generous helping. It is eaten with a variety of sauces and beans. You'll find the rice on each island may be a little different. Some season their rice, or add peas and other touches - like coconut. Sometimes the rice is yellow, but other times it is part of a dish.
Jamaican , Haitian, Guadeloupean, and other French Caribbean islands enjoy goat meat. Goat water stew has been chosen as the official national dish of Montserrat and is also one of the signature dishes of St. Kitts and Nevis. It is a tomato-based stew, made with goat meat, breadfruit, green pawpaw (papaya), and dumplings (also known as "droppers").
Another Caribbean recipe favorite is called "Cook-up", or Pelau. This dish combines meats like chicken, beef, pig tail, saltfish, and vegetables with rice and pigeon peas.
Seafood is one of the most common Caribbean recipe delicacies in the islands due in part to their geographic location. Each island will likely have its own specialty. Some prepare lobster, while others prefer certain types of fish. Barbados is known for its "flying fish," while Trinidad and Tobago is known for its cascadura fish and crab.