One of the best parts of exploring any new destination is the overall food experience, including experiencing cuisine, from distinctive cultural fare to home-cooked dishes, that you won’t find anywhere else. And while every state in the USA has distinct and interesting food on offer for foodies, the US territorial islands too offer a unique selection of dishes based on ingredients that tantalize your taste buds. Let’s look at some US islands that have delicious and unique flavors on offer, along with their untouched natural beauty.
US VIRGIN ISLANDS
While the U.S. Virgin Islands are most famous for their turquoise waters, gorgeous beaches, idyllic sailing, lush tropical forests and luxurious villas, the food scene on the islands of St. John, St. Thomas, and St. Croix is a culinary adventure that you just cannot miss.
The Caribbean cuisine is a fusion of colonial African and American Indian cuisines. The local fish is often served with ingredients like rice, plantains, beans, cassava, cilantro, bell peppers, chickpeas, sweet potatoes and coconut. Eat like a local at restaurants such as Morgan’s Mango and Miss Lucy’s on St. John that specialize in island dishes like Haitian “voodoo” snapper, conch fritters and a spicy West Indian stew called kallaloo. You can also enjoy the farm-to-table experiences at Ridge to Reef Farm on St. Croix Island, which serves a six-course “Slow Down Dinner” that will educate upon the importance of locally grown, organic food.
Guam is a road-trippers paradise with new flavours, adventures and discoveries around every turn. To get a true taste of Guam, there are a handful of dishes that should be on your “must-try” list if you wish to experience the island’s best and boldest flavours. The dish most synonymous with Guam itself is Kelaguen, a meal made with chicken (although variations may include fish, beef or SPAM), lemon, onions, and coconut as its primary ingredients, cooked by citric acid rather than heat and creating a vivid mosaic of flavours.
If you are in Tumon Bay and are ready to build an appetite, do visit Beachin’ Shrimp for heaping helpings of kelaguen, or just one block further to Meskla Dos for classic U.S. burgers, fries and onion rings. To keep cool in the tropical marine climate, you can enjoy drinks like bottled lemon tea, Assam milk tea and Chamorro punch. Alternatively, Gun Beach, just 100 meters north of the beautiful Crystal Chapel on Tumon Bay, is a quiet spot with an excellent — and solitary — pub heralding the edge of a long and quiet shoreline. Guam Beach Bar is another great place to enjoy barbecued chicken and spareribs with red rice, corn on the cob, and finadene sauce – a salty, soy-based condiment recommended by locals.
NORTHERN MARIANA ISLANDS
The Northern Mariana Islands, more simply known as The Marianas, are an easy warm-weather escape in the western Pacific Ocean. Though the Northern Marianas consists of 14 islands in total, the most popular are Saipan, Tinian, and Rota. These islands introduce you to Chamorro and Carolinian food at yearly festivals on each of these islands. Chamorro cuisine is unique for its use of marinades and stews, fresh vegetables, and flavour-enhancing spices and acids. It uses Northern Mariana’s staples like chicken, fish, shellfish, coconut, rice, lemon, taro, and fresh fruit in delightful and inventive ways. The largest festival here is the ‘Taste of The Marianas International Food Festival & Beer Garden’ that runs every weekend in May on Saipan.
At the Saipan Island, you can sample the glorious melting pot of local cuisine and a feast of traditional street foods like apigigi (young coconut cooked in banana leaves), kå’du pika (spicy beef soup) and the bright red rice dish hineksa’ aga’ga’, which gets its colour from annatto seeds.
The culinary culture at the islands of American Samoa is about what’s growing or swimming right in front of you. If you’re staying at Vaoto Lodge, Ofu Island’s acclaimed hotel, traditional Samoan meals are served regularly. Most dishes feature seafood, with coconut, banana, and breadfruit as other staples. Through the National Park of American Samoa’s Homestay Program, it’s possible to spend your time on the islands in a fale, or Samoan house. There, you’ll be treated to authentic Samoan food often cooked in an umu (earth oven) or invited to grill seafood.