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Cayman Islands - Food and Drink
Before modern times, when ingredients could be shipped and flown in from across the globe, local people had to make do with what they could find nearby or grow in the humid and intense heat. Plantain, yellow squash, sweet potatoes, yams, cassava, peas, spring onions, callaloo, chilli, peppers and rice became staple foods. Avocados and coconuts, along with oranges, lemons, limes, grapefruit, pineapples, mangoes and bananas could be enjoyed alone or added as ingredients to other dishes.
Meanwhile, the Caribbean sea was an endless source of fish and seafood, bringing a bounty of tuna, mackerel, snapper, turtle, mahi-mahi and varieties of conch. The spices added to meals in Jamaica to make jerk and curry were brought across to the islands by a flow of settlers.
Modern Food In the Cayman Islands
Today, spicy foods continue to be enjoyed in the Cayman Islands, and traditional foods remain part of the diet. So conch and grilled fish are readily found, often marinated and then served in salads or stew.
Chilli sauce can be used in a variety of ways with different dishes and ingredients, but the sauce itself will always include a mixture of onions, tomatoes, pepper, vinegar and chilli.
Meat is a normal part of the diet for most people in the Cayman Islands today. Cured hams are popular. Cayman style beef is similar to pulled pork, having been shredded and loosened before serving.
With British rule from 1962 and increased globalisation as tourists and investors bring their own influences to the Islands, the range of foods available has expanded rapidly. Nearly all food is now imported, and most tastes can be catered for.
Vegetarians And Vegans Won’t Go Hungry
The Good Taste magazine, which is an online guide to dining and entertaining in the Cayman Islands, compiles an annual list of restaurants, brasseries, cafes and sandwich shops which cater for vegetarians and vegans. There is plenty of choice – you can even order a vegan lunch delivery. With photos, contact details and a summary of menu offerings, this is a great source of information.
Whether you are a clean eater, concerned about animal welfare, or want to reduce the carbon footprint that meat consumption creates, the catering businesses in the Cayman Islands are ready to serve you.
Food Intolerances Are Catered For In The Cayman Islands
Most restaurants and cafes in the Cayman Islands are run by local families, who can respond to individual customer requests as long as they are reasonable. Food intolerances are well understood within the Cayman community.
If you need a dish with gluten-free pasta or without nuts, staff should be able to discuss what ingredients are included and suggest options that are tailored to your needs.
If you have a very serious allergy you may be safer catering for yourself at home, but this is the same anywhere else in the world.
Alcohol Is Expensive
If you are bringing alcohol across to the Cayman Islands beyond a personal allowance, you must pay duty. Even if it’s placed in your suitcase, you must declare it to the customs officials as you arrive. One way to avoid this is to make your alcoholic purchases from the airport’s duty-free shop; be careful to keep the receipt. Once you are in the Cayman Islands, you will find alcohol prices high.
Caybrew produces local beer, and Blackbeard’s Rum company bottles their spirit locally. Seven Fathoms Rum takes sugar cane grown on the Cayman Islands, then distils it in barrels seven fathoms, or 42 feet, underwater.
Drinking And Driving In The Cayman Islands
It is possible to drive in the Cayman Islands after you have consumed alcohol - and the limits are amongst the highest in the world.
Most European countries set limits of 0.02-0.05 percent BAC (Blood Alcohol Content). Nearby Jamaica allows 0.04 percent BAC. England and the United States allow the much higher rate of 0.08 percent BAC. However, the Cayman Islands allow a full 0.1 percent BAC before you are breaking the law by driving.
Not surprisingly, the Cayman Islands suffer a high incidence of vehicle accidents – at least 10 a day, even though the population is only about 50,000 people – with many of the accidents caused by drunk drivers.
The police do enforce the law, setting up regular roadblocks to check drivers, especially at the weekends. Punishments for infringement can include fines, confiscation of your driving license for up to five years, and even a prison sentence of up to 10 years.
Unfortunately, the court system allows drivers to keep their licenses until they are found guilty, due to a presumption of innocence. It can take a long time to get to court and cases are likely to be postponed, which means people who happily drink and drive well above the generous legal limit remain on the roads even after being caught.
Meanwhile, tourists who rent a vehicle for their stay may find driving on the left-hand side of the road unfamiliar, and may not be aware of the low speed limits.
Remember these risks when driving around the Cayman Islands or crossing the road as a pedestrian, especially in the evenings and at the weekend.
Smoking Is Banned In Public Places
Under the Cayman Islands tobacco law of 2008 and regulations of 2010, smoking in a public place is prohibited. Anyone caught doing so may be fined up to $2,000 for the first offence and up to $10,000 for subsequent offences.
In reality, smoking is still prevalent on the beaches and the ban appears to be unenforced unless it encroaches on hotel or resort property. For smokers this is a benefit, though the discarded butts left in the sand and the smell from groups of friends who smoke together is unpleasant for others. Restaurants, hotels and work spaces will all strictly uphold the law.
Vapes are legally seen as a tobacco product in the Cayman Islands. This means e-cigarettes are legal but are subject to the same prohibition in public areas as conventional cigarettes.
There have been a number of illegal attempts to bring vaping pens which contain cannabis oil into the Cayman Islands. Anyone caught doing this will be tried as a drug smuggler. If you buy one which has been smuggled in, you are breaking the law.
Conservative Attitude To Drugs
Illegal drugs can be obtained on the Cayman Islands, but their use is frowned upon by the conservative and religious community there. The customs authorities are alert to the risks of illegal drugs, especially marijuana, being flown out of the Cayman Islands by tourists, and monitor flights accordingly.
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