English is the primary language in the Cayman Islands, but you'll notice it
is spoken with a unique lilt, one that's a little different from accents in
other areas of the Caribbean. It's a reminder of the islands' earliest Welsh,
Scottish, and English settlers. You'll often hear the Jamaican patois as
Caymanian cuisine reflects the riches of the sea. Traditional Caymanian
food includes turtle , brought to the table in the form of soup, stew, or
steak, and conch (pronounced konk), the mollusk that lives in the beauti-
ful pink-and-white shell seen throughout the islands. Conch is a versatile
dish and may be served as an appetizer in the form of fritters, a soup pre-
pared as a chowder or thick with onions and spices as a stew, or even un-
cooked, marinated in lime juice as ceviche.
Interested in having a genuine Caymanian meal cooked for you in
your villa or condo? Through Burton Ebanks (
you can make arrangements to have a private caterer prepare a
homestyle meal right in your accommodation, a great way to
learn more about the preparation of a Caymanian dinner.
The influences of nearby Jamaica are seen on island menus as well, espe-
cially in the jerk seasoning that ignites fish, chicken, and other meats.
Jerk is meat or fish slathered with a fiery concoction of Scotch bonnet pep-
pers, allspice, thyme, salt, garlic, scallions, and onions, then slow-cooked
over a flame to produce a dish similar to a piquant barbecue. As in Ja-
maica, jerk is often served with rice and peas (often pigeon peas), a tradi-
tional Caribbean side dish.
Other Caribbean flavors and dishes found in the Cayman Islands include:
Allspice. The common term for pimento (see pimento).
Breadfruit. Breadfruit is kind of an all-purpose fruit: you can boil it,
roast it, fry it, you name it. The giant green fruit came to the West Indies
thanks to Captain Bligh (yep, of Mutiny on the Bounty fame). Breadfruit is
a popular sidedish.
Cassava. The early Indians of the Caribbean, the Taino, first used this
root, or yucca, to make flour. Also known as tapioca, cassava is poisonous
until it is processed to remove the prussic acid. Today cassava is used to
make “heavy cake.”