Local Cuisine

Florida cuisine is highly influenced by Caribbean foods, with significant influence from Haiti, Bahamas, Barbados, Guyana, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, Cuba, and Puerto Rico, brought by immigrants from these places.

In the case of South Florida in particular, is called Hispanic-Florida or Latin-Florida cuisine to the gastronomy that borrows characteristics of Latin American cuisine from countries such as Mexico, Colombia, Argentina, Brazil, and the Dominican Republic.

The enthronement of various waves of Caribbean, Hispanic and Asian immigrants to Florida since the late 19th century has played a prominent role in the development of its cuisine. The use of seafood, as well as Asian and Caribbean ingredients and cooking methods, have made Florida cuisine generally healthier than other US cuisines with a more meat-based frugality.

The Floridian style of cooking also incorporates a pantry of exotic condiments: red curry, lemongrass, ginger, and chives, as well as grits and cobbler in other parts of Florida.

Several types of wide variety of seafood caught along Florida's 1,350-mile coastline are often paired with tropical fruits such as mangoes, papayas, bananas, coconuts, citrus, and lychees. The union of these flavors led to the change in this distinctive South Florida regional cuisine.

Typical characteristics of Caribbean cuisine include:
  • Emphasis on fresh ingredients.
  • Spice blends, especially strong flavors offset by milder ones.
  • Everyday use of seafood and poultry.
  • Generous use of fresh fruit and juices, especially sweet citrus and tropical fruits
  • Special care in presentation, looking for a more natural effect instead of an ostentatious one.
  • Vegetables that are absent in Caribbean cuisine, such as certain members of the broccoli family.

Florida cuisine often uses less hot spices than the Caribbean dishes that inspire it, even though there is extensive use of various types of chili peppers. However, this pungency is almost always moderated by the use of mango, papaya, rum, almond, coconut, lime, or honey.