Everywhere you go in the world, there’s an atmosphere, a sound, a look, a people and a taste that is unique to your destination location. The Caribbean is no different…,well maybe. The truth is most world destinations have people hustling and bustling, some places pushing and shoving.
The Caribbean is unique in that none of that is required there. Most people in the world go to the Caribbean for REST & RELAXATION. Here that means stop pushing and shoving, pimpin’ and hustling, talking loud and saying nothing, scheming and plotting…it’s time to slow down from the world and yourself and regroup, redirect and rebrand yourself in the midst of your Caribbean vacation.
And as you take on the sun and fun. At some point, you find yourself at rest to dine. Whether you dine in a fancy resturant , local spot or at someone’s home there’s one “TING” you will find in all these locations and on every menu…a local Soft Drink! A Soda!
Yes, this post is about Caribbean Sodas! Crazy right?! I mean shouldn’t we talk about the hot night clubs and hot scenic spots? Sure…however this is mostly a Cuisine blog. And Id like to introduce you to some of the local food & beverage fare. Some of which I’m sure you will not find in your country, as these beverages are only found locally accept for a few that have hit the international scene.
I personally am not a big Soda drinker but…., every now and again I will have a taste for a lil’ someTING. SomeTINGs you just can’t get around when you are on vacation trying new foods and drinks that the locals love.
When you’re in Trinidad it may be you and a Roti with a bottle of Red Solo, or if you’re in the Bahamas you may be eating some Conch Fritters and have Goombay Punch, let’s say you’re in Jamaica you just may find yourself eating some Jerk and drinking a TING, if you’re in Puerto Rico you may have Baccalo and a Malta. In the Virgin Islands you may be noshing on a Crab Pâté and drinking a Watermelon Soda…,truth is…when in The Caribbean do as the Caribbean’s do!
I remember when I was a teen and in my early 20’s my Mum and I would take several destination vacations. And I fondly recall us going to Nassau, Bahamas. It was similar yet different from St. Thomas, USVI or Tortola, BVI.
The specialty dish was Conch. Coach this or Conch that, but for me the star was Goombay Punch!!!
I remember we bought a whole case if it to have in our bungalow. I think not only was it the Flavor (which would be cloyingly sweet to my taste buds now) but it was the graphics found on the can itself. Something about it was fashionable and modern to me. I remember collecting the cans to take home with me as a collectors item.
Of all the Caribbean Sodas I’ve tried my all time favorites are Kola Champagne, Cream, TING, and Watermelon Soda (I guess just because of the can too. The can sparked a lot if controversy in the Caribbean as being racist because of a little girl who is colored in all black but has the features like a little white girl and she’s eating a Watermelon and on the opposite side if the can is a little white boy eating a watermelon too. Ultimately the company changed the can to depicting only the little white boy eating Watermelon.)
One popular beverage that I would consider more of a wine cooler than a Beer or alcoholic drink would be Shandy Carib. Now Shandy comes from the same manufacturers as Carib Lager (Beer) a brewing company that specialises in alcoholic beverages but I have to say Shandy is more like a soda than anything (1.5% alcohol content. They have 3 flavors Lime, Ginger and my favorite is the Sorrel.
My absolute least favorite coming out of Puerto Rico which many people seem to love is Malta . It’s noted to be a vitamin packed beverage to give you strength energy and vitality. And you can find it all over the Caribbean and in the USA. However, to me it tastes like brown sludge and indeed it is an acquired taste. No thumbs up here but, I had to mention it because it is such a popular beverage.
One of my favorite Carib dishes is Roti aka “Bus Up Shut” (because the Roti looks like a ripped up shirt) filled with Curry Chicken (uuuh without the bones in it people, new era!!!! NOUVELLE CUISINE people…NO BONES PLEASE!!! NOUVELLE …meaning new) anyway this offering usually comes out of Trinidad and Tobago. Now if you go to any Roti shop in the Catibbean or even here in the US it’s almost like a law for you to have a Red Solo (red like in Cherry, Strawberry, Sorrel? Why call it just Red? I never understood that, but anyway) it’s a favorite almost like America’s Cookies and Milk going hand in hand. Solo & Roti for life ( scratch it into the sidewalks pavement)!
Well, I hope I gave you a lil glossary of Caribbean Sodas you can try whenever you’re there. Please check out the dancing TING bottles…it’s kinda hilarious! Keep it cool Mon and don’t worry bout a TING (pun intended!)
Ting Dancing Bottles