Sounds like a folk band or a Harry Potter book, but St Vincent and the Grenadines is actually a rather gorgeous southern Caribbean nation. Think tropical jungle, white-sand beaches and bobbing yachts.

South of Saint Lucia, and west of Barbados, the nation comprises the main island of St Vincent and roughly two-thirds of the Grenadines (a chain of 32 smaller islands).

Known as a sailing destination, the nation boasts yacht-filled harbours, chic private isles, and wonderful reefs – making it the perfect escape for the idle (and nautically-minded) rich. But there is a darker side to this tropical paradise… Most of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines lies within Hurricane Alley; regular hurricane warnings are part of life here, and residents are used to battening down the hatches at a moment’s notice.

Despite the recent woes, St Vincent and the Grenadines is a pretty joyful place, known for its laid-back spirit, easy lifestyle, and fresh, tasty fare. The cuisine is typically West Indian, with African, French, British and Carab influences and, as you’d expect, seafood is a huge part of the culinary experience.

Conch, shrimp, lobster, whelk, jack fish and salt fish are popular across the islands, and constitute the basis of many a meal. Meat is also a favourite, with cured and smoked ham topping the list of more hearty dishes. And, thanks to the rich volcanic soils, the islands boast a feast of fruit (residents are apparently particular partial to the sweet local oranges which can be eaten while still green) and veggies…

whats eaten2In fact, two of the nation’s most iconic dishes are based on local vegetables. The first is pumpkin soup, complete with chunks of pumpkin, minced onion, pepper, garlic, parsley and thyme. And the second consists of leaves of a local spinach-like vegetable simmered slowly along with fresh okra, peppers, and coconut milk to produce the distinctively Caribbean ‘callaloo soup’ – another exotic-sounding name to add to the plethora of delightful nomenclature!