A petite Caribbean island, Saint Lucia oscillated between British and French rule for more than 300 years, gaining its independence in 1979. Thus, its cuisine incorporates diverse flavours and influences. Culinary elements from both colonizing nations, peppered with tastes of Indian, Creole (Kwéyòl) and West African cookery swirl and simmer with liberal helpings of island-grown ingredients.

Banana at Sandals Grande St. Lucian

Saint Lucia produces some of the tastiest bananas anywhere. Consume them sweet, ripe and eaten as-is or braised in caramelized rum syrup and spooned on French toast, as found on Toscanini’s breakfast menu at Sandals Grande St. Lucian. Be sure to try the island nation’s specialty, green fig and saltfish, featuring green bananas known as “fig” cooked and served as a side dish with shredded, spiced fish. 

Cocoa at Morne Coubaril Estate

Take a guided tour of the historic French Creole plantation Morne Coubaril Estate, which now produces cocoa. Its top-notch cocoa beans are fermented, sun-dried, polished and rolled into cocoa sticks. These compact and delicately bitter sticks are grated to make “cocoa tea,” a richly flavoured spin on hot chocolate prepared with boiling water, milk and sugar and often enhanced with cinnamon, vanilla and bay leaf.

Cassava at Plas Kassav

A versatile food staple, this starchy root vegetable can be baked, fried, mashed or simmered in stews. It’s also ground into flour to produce dense, flat and chewy cassava breads, a selection of which are made and served warm daily at Plas Kassav (Creole for Cassava Place), a popular bakery near Soufrière on the island’s west coast. Try the peppery cinnamon or delectable cherry raisin varieties.

Coconut at Sandals Halcyon Beach Bayside

Pressed, poured, shredded and chopped, coconut reigns supreme in Saint Lucia in dishes and drinks that include “coconut tablet” confections made with shredded coconut, spiced cake baked with coconut oil, fudge made with coconut cream, curry dishes and fiery Scotch bonnet-flecked “rundowns” made with simmered coconut milk. Try them all at the Sandals Halcyon Beach Bayside restaurant lunch buffet.

Rum at St. Lucia Distillers

Sugar cane production in Saint Lucia ceased decades ago, curtailing rum production. St. Lucia Distillers is now the island’s sole distillery, producing award-winning rums and liqueurs. Infused with fruits and spices, including orange, coconut, cinnamon, allspice, clove and vanilla, Chairman’s Reserve Spiced Rum is big here. Customize your own rum blend with spice mixes found at roadside stands and Castries Market.

Getting there: WestJet flies to St. Lucia three times a week from Toronto.