The Melting Pot
Look out on the bright neon colors that make up the town’s unique skyline, listen to the Curaçaoan speak in its native Papiamento, and delight in the island cuisine that crosses the international flavors of Dutch heritage with melting pot Caribbean cultural influences. Curacao is rich and diverse in history lending itself wholeheartedly to the creation of rich and diverse menus all over the island making local cuisine one of Curacao’s great treasures. You would certainly miss out if you didn’t dine like a local. Food is deeply influenced by all its nationalities, particularly its large population of African descent so experience fusion cuisine at its finest by choosing local eateries.
If you’re feeling frenzied that you must forgo your favorite fast food chain while vacationing in Curaçao; get over it. You’ll easily access familiar haunts like MacDonald’s, Burger King, Pizza Hut, Subway’s, Denny’s and Haagen Dazs throughout the island. For the only slightly more adventurous food fan, you’ll also find a fair share of European cuisine with several French and Dutch restaurants scattered about. You and your taste buds will be glad you did. While dining keep in mind that most restaurants add a 10% service charge besides the 5% government sales tax. If you’re pleased with the service additional tips are always appreciated.
Livin’ La Vida Local
Caribbean travel is synonymous with rest and relaxation. Post World War II, more airstrips were built on the islands, larger capacity planes were landing and the airfare prices declining. As a result, the travellers were younger, a little less affluent and brought forth vacationers looking for adventure both in fun and food. Local produce, freshly caught fish from area waters, sweet and pungent herbs grown locally were in rising demand forming the basis for curiously delightful Curacaoan cuisine.
On the menu: Standard fare like Karko (conch meat), Stoba (stewed goat or beef), Dradu (local Mahi-Mahi), lobster, funghi (corn food) plantains (fried bananas) Funchi, a polenta-like side dish made with cornmeal; Pika Hasa, red snapper; and of course the signature Dutch dish Keshi Yena, a savory meal of cheese stuffed with meat or fish. A special mention goes to iguana stew and the brave and daring tourists who give it a try!
Curaçao also boasts its own hot sauce Pika. Pika is made with diced onions, vinegar, and hot peppers and is used to enhance many of the local dishes. Ask for it when dining out and if you can’t live without it, take home this easy recipe.
Eat on the Cheap
True or false? You’re as likely to find cheap eats at the waterfront cafes in Punda as you are a cheap tank of gas. True. But, stroll through the maze of back street alleys and you’ll be amazed at the global stew of international cheap eats to choose from. Or, take advantage of the many after hour mobile snack bars and local eateries where for pocket change you can purchase plenty of yummy food for everyone. Marsche Bieuw, the old market in Willemstad is a terrific source of authentic but inexpensive cuisine. Affordable eating is fast, easy and convenient.
Blissful Blue Brilliance
Over 100 years ago the Spaniards made an accidental but abundantly fruitful discovery when they brought their sweet and juicy Valencia oranges to the island. Unable to flourish because of the differences in climate, the sweet flavor of the Valencia orange blossomed into the sour Lahara orange. The peel of these Lahara oranges contains sweet-smelling oils which, when combined with exotic spices resulted in the creation of a liqueur of international appeal enjoyed by millions the world over. The Mansion where the original Curaçao liqueur was made is now considered a “Protected Monument” by the Curacao government. This mansion is called “Chobolobo Mansion” or “Country Estate”, and on its premises is a distillery of Curacao liqueur. Take shot of this blissfully, brilliantly Blue Curaçao before dinner and who knows, you may decide to order Iguana stew!
Curacaoan Pika Onion Relish:
1 large red onion, finely chopped, 1 scotch bonnet pepper, seeded, 1 ½ cups distilled white vinegar and 4 tsp salt. Combine all ingredients together in a large just, shake until salt dissolves, let marinate 2-3 days. Serve with stews, meat, fish and corn dishes. Keeps well for up to 3 months.
Blue Cosmopolitan (Cocktail)
Blue Curacao, Cranberry Juice, Lemon Juice, Triple Sec, Vodka
Blue Sea (Cocktail)
Blue Curacao, Malibu Rum, Pineapple Juice
Blue Silk Panties (Shooter)
Blue Curacao, Lemon Juice, Malibu Rum
A Kick In The Crotch (Shooter)
Blue Curacao, Cranberry Juice, Vodka
Blue Shark (Cocktail)
Blue Curacao, Vodka, White Tequila
7 Deadly Sins (Shooter)
Bailey’s Irish Cream, Blue Curacao, Grenadine, Kahlua, Sambuca, Southern Comfort
KeshiYená (Stuffed Cheese)
Adapted from The Jewish Kitchens of Curaçao
1 small Edam cheese (2 to 2½lbs)
2 lbs. shredded cooked chicken
3 tomatoes, chopped and peeled
2 sliced onions
1 garlic clove
1 chopped green pepper
¼ cup sliced olives
1 tablespoon capers
1 tablespoon parsley
¼ minced hot pepper (or hot sauce to taste)
½ cup raisins and chopped prunes
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons ketchup
2 tablespoons mustard
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons butter
Slice the top off the cheese and reserve. Gently scoop out the inside, leaving a 1/4 to 1/2 inch shell. The cheese should resemble a hollowed out pumpkin. Sauté the remaining ingredients, except the eggs, in the butter; simmer for about 20 minutes. Beat 4 eggs and stir into the mixture. Spoon it into the cheese shell, replace the top and spread remaining beaten egg on top to seal. Grease a shallow baking dish and fill it with about 1 inch of water; set the cheese in the dish and bake at 350° F for 1 to 11/2 hours. The cheese will expand and flatten slightly but will keep its basic shape. Serve piping hot, cut into wedges. Leftovers are good reheated.