Beyond seeing the sights, exploring the nature, and learning the history of a given destination, the truest way to understand its culture is through its cuisine.
Each bite of local fare is like taking a step closer to the truth – to the essence of a place.
Cuisine holds the cultures history, drama, secrets of the landscape, and the hardships and happinesses of its people.
When traveling, tasting local and authentic food is one of the most exciting and delicious activities to partake in!
Certain countries and regions are home to more than one type or style of cuisine, and the idyllic Caribbean island of Curaçao is one such place.
Curaçao has an immense amount of historical chapters, and has played host to a plethora of cultures over the past few decades. As such, the cuisine is varied as they come, with plenty of delightful treats and fascinating dishes to explore.
There’s much to learn and experience when it comes to Curaçao cuisine, and we’ll try and give you a breakdown of what to try and where it might have come from originally.
Much of The Cuisine Hails From African Origins
The bulk of the island cuisine is comprised of African-turned-Caribbean style. This is due to the large percentage of African-descended islanders, whose ancestors arrived on the island anywhere from the 1600s to today. This style of food is what you will find most commonly, and it’s absolutely delicious! We suggest trying…
- Kabritu – Stewed goat doused in a semi-sweet brown sauce.
- Stoba – The word for stew, there are many stews, all of which are worth tasting.
- Karko – Thin slices of Conch, typically prepared in a generous amount of garlic and butter.
- Funchi – The Curaçaoan version of polenta, made out of cornmeal, seasoned with butter and salt.
- Tutu – Similar to Funchi, but also includes mashed black-eyed peas.
The Dutch Influence
Being a member of the Netherlands Antilles, Curaçao is heavily influenced by the Dutch in many ways, including: architecture, culture, and cuisine. Some of the Dutch inspired dishes are…
- Bitterbal – Sausage meat molded into balls, coated with breadcrumbs, and then fried.
- Keshi Yena – Essentially a stuffed cheese casserole. Definitely one of the most popular dishes, Keshi Yena is typically made out of Gouda, and then stuffed with spiced chicken, onions, olives, capers, and tomatoes. Now to be clear – Keshi Yena is what the African’s on Curaçao created from the leftover parts of the wheels of cheese the Dutch loved to eat. So it’s a combination of Dutch and African influence.
Check Out the South American Influence
Curaçao’s cuisine is has been greatly influenced by South America over the years due to its close proximity to Venezuela – Curaçao is a mere 40 miles north. Much of the island’s produce and other goods are imported from Venezuela. Definitely check out the…
- Floating Market – This is the place to make your freshly caught seafood purchases. Merchants from Venezuela and Colombia arrive by boat to the island where they sell fresh fruits, vegetables, and seafood. Technically the stalls are on land, but the boats filled with goods are right behind the stall, giving it the look of a floating market.
- Red Snapper – This is one of the most common fish, and though how it’s prepared may vary, much of the actual fish comes from Venezuelan fisherman who journey to Curaçao to sell their catch.
The Best Place to Try it All…
You can spend your Curaçao vacation hopping from one fancy restaurant to the next, but to really try authentic cuisine, it’s all about the simple, local run, joints.
- Plasa Bieu – The Old Market, Plasa Bieu is the place to try it all. You can find any of the aforementioned dishes, plus many more. Yvonne’s is definitely the place to try if you have to choose. Keep in mind this market is only open for lunch, and can get very crowded! So get there early, and plan to stay a while, we promise you’ll enjoy yourselves.
After all the delicious cuisine, you just might find yourself in need of some quality R&R. Thankfully Curaçao is a Caribbean island offering plenty of luxurious resorts and spectacular beaches to experience. For your luxury accommodation needs, seek out Santa Barbara Beach & Golf Resort, Curaçao’s premier resort. Our team at the resort will also be happy to point you in the direction of the most authentic cuisine around, and offer any other advice or local insight needed! We hope you have a fabulous getaway. Bon Voyage!