Guadeloupe: The French Caribbean’s Best Kept Secret … for Now

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Anne Banas waxes poetic on the beauty of Guadeloupe. She does not only provide detailed commentary on the two largest islands (connected like “the two wings of a butterfly”)—Grande-Terre and Basse-Terre; she also writes about the charms of Marie-Galante, Îles des Saintes, and La Désirade (which I have always longed to visit). Here are a few excerpts with a link to the full article below:

Land on the ferry docks of Terre-de-Haut and be greeted by the tourment d’amour, or agony of love. On this small island in Guadeloupe, sorrow comes in a deceptively sweet form—half tart, half cake, and infused with a seductive mix of shredded coconut, cane sugar, rum, and wistful longing. For generations, island women baked these small round gateaux in anticipation of their lovers’ safe returns from sea. If the cakes staled, heartbreak ensued. Today, ladies wait patiently by the pier, enticing arriving visitors with their pastry-lined madras baskets. They keep the recipe secret, so you can only eat them here. And one taste will leave you spellbound, forever yearning to come back again.

This is Guadeloupe, where sensory pleasures captivate. Breezy and unpretentious—and largely undiscovered by U.S. travelers—this group of French islands in the Eastern Caribbean Sea is perhaps best known for its French-Creole gastronomy, but it’s equally enchanting for its carefree beaches, painted villages, colorful festivals, and majestic, misty volcano.

Island Gastronomy

While subtle differences in character set these islands apart, the local food culture unites them. A mélange of traditional Creole and classic French cooking with a dash of African and Indian spice, Guadeloupe’s cuisine is both local and exotic, rustic and refined. [. . .] Down-to-earth and comforting, typical Creole dishes center on the land and surrounding sea, seamlessly blending fresh-caught fish with island-grown fruits and vegetables. Like other sleepy, open-air restaurants, Le Rivage in Capesterre-belle-eau (on Basse-Terre) begins its meals with accras (deep-fried cod fritters) with garlicky “dog” sauce and then graduates to hearty mains like conch fricassee or goat curry served alongside plantains, rice, and beans. Of course, it all goes down better with fruity—and potent—rum cocktails like le planteur or ti punch.

[. . .] Offering authentic flavors in their simplest forms, the streets reveal yet another chapter in Guadeloupe’s culinary story. Direct from mom-and-pop sellers to eagerly waiting locals and tourists, portable foods like grilled conch in a cone, hand-churned coconut sorbet, and, of course, the tourment d’amour make for affordable, spontaneous snacking at festivals, by the beach, or simply in town squares. Sold from takeout windows alongside French crepes, the uniquely Guadeloupian [sic] bokit—a pita-like sandwich made from risen bread that’s been deep-fried and folded over fillings like cheese, egg, vegetables, meat, and tuna—is the West Indian answer to guilty-pleasure fast food.

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For those thinking of recreating island dishes in their own kitchens, the spice markets—particularly Marché Saint-Antoine in Pointe-à-Pitre and the beachside market in Saint Anne (both on Grande-Terre)—are the epicenters of local flavor. Among the bustling stalls, you can find anything from aromatic vanilla beans and colombo (a local curry powder) to bois bandé (a type of wood said to have aphrodisiac properties). [. . .]

For full article, see http://www.smartertravel.com/blogs/today-in-travel/guadeloupe-the-french-caribbean-best-kept-secret-for-now.html?id=22342134

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