Anyone else glued to the latest series of the BBC’s Death in Paradise? A light-hearted Caribbean romp, each episode involves a murder which is solved in the space of 40 minutes by a bumbling British detective and his local police team. Naturally, it’s the scenery which takes centre stage: set on the island of St Marie, the series is backdropped by waving palm trees, designer mansions, and glittering beaches. St Marie is fictional. The entire thing is actually shot on Guadeloupe.
South of Antigua and north of Dominica, this French overseas territory consists of six inhabited islands and innumerable uninhabited rocks and isles. It’s the place with everything: soaring mountains, stunning seas, coral reefs and mysterious jungly bits full of mahogany and ironwood trees, and packed with exotically-coloured birds. There’s even the odd volcano or two, along with a magnificent waterfall visited annually by almost half a million tourists.
There’s so much to see, you’d be hard-pressed to find time for a meal. But should you decide to take a break from sightseeing, your first port of call should be any restaurant with a decent porc colombo. The unofficial dish of Guadeloupe, this delicious stew consists of tender pieces of pork seasoned with an abundance of herbs and spices (including allspice, cinnamon, thyme, and colombo curry powder) and stewed along with green pepper, chopped onion, garlic, sweet potato, diced tomato, and spicy peppers.
Of course if pork’s not your thing, there’s plenty of seafood to tempt the palate. There’s chiquetaille (flaked cod marinated in a hot peppery vinaigrette); ouassou (crayfish and lobster in garlic and rum); urchins (more popular with the tourists than the locals); saury (a long thin fish, fried or grilled and served in a Caribbean stew); and titiri, or river crayfish – often made into fish cakes, these are apparently caught according to the cycles of the moon!
Fruit is also a big thing. Alongside the inevitable banana dishes, there’s a surfeit of grapefruit, breadfruit, coconut and passion fruit. And we mustn’t forget lime: the ultimate accompaniment to any rum-based drink, lime is simply everywhere.