When you are visiting Guadeloupe, you'll probably pay a visit to the islands of Les Saintes; this is Gwada's number one tourist-destination. And when you are on Les Saintes, you simply cannot miss the Tourments d’Amour that are sold there. This is the local specialty and the islands basically are the only place when you can get them.
These "Love-Cakes" are small cakes of soft and very sweet dough that is flavoured with coconut. They can be filled with several things, but the most common are Guava, Pineapple, Coconut and Banana. Personally I loved the ones with Guava the most.
The Tourments d’Amour are sold in patisseries in bigger sizes, but the most common ones are only 10 centimetres in diameter and are sold on the streets. You can get a sachet of 4 pieces for 1,50 euro and then you can choose between the different tastes or you can take a combination of all four.
A few times I've seen the Tourments d’Amour being sold on the mainland of Guadeloupe, but these are simply not the "real-thing". :)
Back home I was never a big fan of pancakes. With the syrup and the sugar I thought they were just too sweet. On Guadeloupe however I became a huge fan of pancakes: not the sweet ones but the salty ones: "Crêpes Salées".
A Crêpe Salée is a pancake that is baked without sugar, and that is stuffed with things like cheese, ham and mushrooms. The full pancake (Crêpe Complet) is filled with cheese, ham, pieces of sausage, egg and sometimes mushrooms as well. Other versions are ham/cheese, just egg, sausage/cheese or basically every combination you want. It's also nice to spice it up a little bit with some "piment".
These "Crêpes" can be found in a lot of snackbars and small restaurants. It's nice for lunch, but also for dinner (it's a real meal) and it's great for late at night after going out. For a Crêpe Complet you pay about 4,50 euro.
At almost every beach on Guadeloupe you will find them: women with a wooden barrel making "Sorbet de Coco". This is a sort of very soft icecream that is a typical treat for sunbathers that are looking for a refreshment.
The sorbet is made of milk, condensed milk, coconutmilk and flavours like vanilla, cinnamon, almond and -like everything on the island- of course a little bit of lime. The result is a very sweet and soft icecream with a surprisingly complete taste.
The Sorbets are normally served in a plastic cup that is put too full. The result is icecream dripping down all the time and you licking it clean like a dog... :) For a small one you pay € 1,50 and for a big one it is € 2,50.
Bokit is a very typical sort of fastfood you find on Guadeloupe. You can find bokits in small snackbars and in stalls at the beachsides. It's real fastfood: it's fatty, it's filling, it's very tasty and it's cheap: for a bokit you pay between € 2,- and € 2,50.
The base of a bokit is the bread. It looks like a pita-bread, but it tastes completely different. It's a fatty kind of dough that is not baked in an oven, but fried in a pan with hot oil. This bread is cut open and filled with whatever you like.
Some nice fillings are tuna, especially when it's spiced-up a bit, and when a good dose of mayonaise is added. But other possibilities are chicken, sausage, ham and cheese, or the complet-version with eggs, ham, cheese and sausage.
Sauces are always available to use yourself. If you like spicy ask them to add a LITTLE BIT of "piment". That makes is burn nicely on your tongue! :)
Agoulou: yum yum! My favourite fastfood on Guadeloupe! It is the local version of a hamburger, and it's so much better then a Big Mac! Agoulou's can be bought in some snackbars and often in small vans and stalls on or near beaches.
The king of the agoulou's is the "Agoulou Complet". This hamburger is made of a special kind of fatty bread, a big burger, cheese, ham, pieces of sausage, salad, egg and all sauces you want. Especially the egg gives it a very special taste. You can also buy an agoulou that is a little less "complet" (which means "full" in French), for example without meat, or with a burger alone.
Unfortunately a lot of Agoulou-places that are not located directly at the beach are closed at daytime, so it's often not possible to get them as lunch. But for dinner, or as a treat after going out they're good as well. Costs? About 4 to 5 euro's for a huge burger.
Although I think that on Guadeloupe RHUM is the thing to drink when you're going out, there are actually people who don't. There is this thing called "beer" that is drunk quite a lot as well. On Gwada you'll normally find four different types of beer: the Dutch brand Heineken, the Belgian Stella Artois, and the Caribbean beers Carib and Corsaire. Well, if you want to drink a beer here, at least take a Caribbean one I would say...
Carib is a beer that tastes and looks like the more famous Corona: it's very refreshing, it's served in a clear bottle and with a piece of lime in the neck. The alcohol-percentage is about 5%. Carib is a brand from Trinidad and Tobago, but also brewed on Grenada and Saint-Kitts. To me, this is the perfect beer to drink under the Caribbean sun!
And then there is Corsaire, a more traditional beer, or pilsner actually. This beer is brewed in Baie-Mahault on the island of Guadeloupe itself. It has a taste that is a bit like Heineken, but a little bit less bitter. Alcohol-percentage is 5%. It's a nice beer to drink at night, at daytime I'd prefer the Carib.
A bottle of beer costs you about 2 euro's normally.
The most popular "entrée" on Guadeloupe is a dish of delicious fritters that are called "Accra's". They find they origin in West-Africa, but are especially popular all over the West Indies. They look a bit like donut-balls, but the taste is not sweet but salty, often flavoured with fish.
To make these Accra's you need baking powder, flour and eggs for the dough, and then the special ingredients like Congo pepper, black pepper and salty fish (like cod or even shrimps) are added. Mix all of this together, make a ball and deep-fry it in a pan with hot oil: here you have your Accra's!
Accra's can be bought for a few euro's already. In a decent restaurant you'll pay around 5 or 6 euro's for a plate of 10. They're being served with a spicy sauce to dip them in. I had some great Accra's at the Touloulou Resort on Marie-Galante!
A dish that is almost just as good as the delicious Fricassée de Lambi, is the Fricassée de Chatrou. Basically the sauce that is served with this dish is pretty much the same: a tasty spiced tomato-based sauce with onions, carrots and lots of different spices and herbs.
This is also served with white rice (with brown beans if you're lucky) and often with fried plantain or yam, but instead of pieces of the Lambi-shell you'll find pieces of octopus-legs on your plate. When they are nicely cooked they are still as chewy as octopus can be, but not too chewy. The taste of the sauce is completely in the octopus.
I had some great Chatrou a few times at my host family, but I tried it ones in a touristy restaurant in Sainte-Anne (Kouleur Kreol) and that was no success. Therefore my advise: pick a real local place to try the good chatrou!
During my visit to the islands of Les Saintes I tried an animal that I wanted to taste for a long time already: shark! In a small restaurant at the church-square of Terre-de-Haut I had the so called "Filet de Requin".
The meat of this shark was (as expected) a lot like normal fish, but a little bit more chewy and more salty. But together with the rice, the salad and the fried plantain that came with it, it was a very tasty meal. And for the 10 euro's that it costed me it was a very satisfying dish.
I asked a fisherman what kind of sharks were used for this "filet de requin". He named a certain species but I didn't understand this French name. What I did understand is that it was an animal of about 4 metres long! That's a whole lot of "Filet's"! By the way: shark is a season-product so don't expect to find it all year long.
Guadeloupe is rhum-island. Rhum is used in lots of different drinks and a local specialty are the many different kinds of punches that are made with it. A punch is a pre-mixed cocktail that is flavoured with everything that can possibly bring flavour to the drink. And always you'll find at least 15% to 20% of alcohol in the punches.
Punches can be bought on pretty much every market on the island. Prices for a bottle of a litre vary between 10 and 18 euro's. Some examples of flavours that you can get everywhere are guava, pineapple, lemon, honey, vanilla, cinnamon, and lots, lots more. And at most places you can also ask for a mixture of flavours just how you like it. Lemon/honey is a great mixture for example: no problem, they'll mix it and 5 minutes later you have exactly the taste you like.
A good thing about all these punch-stalls is that they offer a "dégustation libre" which means free tasting. They'll only serve you a very small portion of the punch, but if you like to taste 6 different kinds of punch that's no problem. A very nice stall can be found on the market in Sainte-Anne (see picture).
Fricassée de Lambi: absolutely the best meal I had during my three months on Guadeloupe. Unfortunately it's not available all your long, and it's pretty expensive as well: all due to its main-ingredient: the Lambi. This is a sort of snail/shell that can only be caught in specific period of the year. The shells are sold as a souvenir, and the meat goes into this dish.
To make the Lambi-meat ready to eat it takes muscles: you have to beat the meat for at least half an hour to make it soft, and after that it has to cook for about an hour. It is being mixed with vegetables like carrots, tomatoes and onions and also with refreshing lime-juice.
The result is a dish with white rice, fried plantain or yam and of course the pieces of lambi in a very, very tasty red paste. In a restaurant you'll pay about 18 euro's for a dish like this. A great place to try this is at "Chez Hugues" in Sainte-Anne.
A very special meal that you really should try when you are on Guadeloupe is the so called Colombo de Poulet. The local people are very proud of this specialty and you'll find it in every restaurant on the island.
"Colombo" is a dish that is a mixture between the Caribbean-Creole cuisine and the Indian cuisine. Because there are a lot of Indian people that moved to Gwada after the end of slavery, curry was introduced in this era. This is one of the prime-ingredients of the dish. The Creole influences are the lemon and the coconut-milk.
In the end you'll have a big plate with white rice, with soft pieces of chicken and a yellow curry sauce with onion and pieces of potato in it. The sauce is somewhere in between being spicy (because of the red pepper that goes in it) and being fresh (because of the coconut and the lemon).
One tip if you want to try this: the more local the restaurant is, the better it will taste. Better not try it in a real tourist place, because you'll most likely not get the real thing!
One of the specialties of Guadeloupe are its fresh fruits. Because of its perfect climate, fruits tastes magnificent here, and therefore they are great to make tasty juices of as well. Unfortunately you don't see real fresh fruit juice that often: most of the time it is fruit juice from a bottle (also called local because it is bottled on the island), but if you manage to get a real fresh one you won't regret it!
The most popular fruit juice on Gwada is the home-made guava-juice: a pretty thick, and very sweet drink, but very tasty. Another personal favourite is the grape-fruit juice, and more examples are the pineapple-juice, mango-juice and orange-juice.
To find real, good juices the best place to find them is a local "boulangerie" are a local restaurant. But make sure to look for a small place that is not packed with customers, because generally that is a sign that they serve the bottled versions...
Another typical drink that you can get on Guadeloupe is the delicious Planteur. When you're flying to the island with Air France or Air Caraïbes you can already try it in the airplane, but this pre-mixed version is nothing compared to the real thing!
The real thing is a fruity cocktail with rhum, orange juice, guava juice and passionfruit juice. Sometimes other juices are added too, but these ones are pretty much standard. This mixture results in a fresh drink with a decent alcohol percentage of about 15%. When drunk cooled this makes a great refreshment on a hot Caribbean day.
A good Planteur is pretty hard to find. Often the juices are not cooled, or the amount of rhum to way too high. The best option is to go to a local bar and try it there. I had a few great ones in Bar Karibik in Sainte-Anne.
Ti-Punch: you simply cannot say you've been to Guadeloupe without having drunk at least one Ti-Punch. This "small-punch" is the most famous traditional drink of the island, and is very popular.
The Ti-Punch tradition is a difficult one. There are at least 5 typical moments on which you can drink them, there are several recipes, and every different variant has its own time on which it should be drunk. Also important: officially no one is allowed to prepare a Ti-Punch for you: you should do it all yourself according to your own taste. The most special moment of drinking a Ti-Punch to me is the early-morning one: a punch for breakfast is called "décoller" which means "taking-off".
However, most of the times there is only one type of Ti-Punch offered, already prepared for you and you can order and drink it whenever you want. It's a small glass filled with strong rhum (50%), a slice of lime and a teaspoon of cane sugar. Stir it, and drink it slowly... I personally like the variant with honey better: this makes it a little bit smoother.
A typical Ti-Punch costs between € 1,50 and € 2,50.
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Route de Sandy Ground 1, Marigot, St. Maarten/St. Martin, 97150, Caribbean
Good for: Families