Aruba is a small island which has a large appetite. Traditional Aruban food is fairly simple, with mainly hearty stews of goat or chicken, chicken with raisins, corn meal mush (fungi), or cocada (coconut candy). Spices and seasonings are common and originally came into popularity to give the food some variety.
The island was colonized by the Dutch, who brought cheese along with them, but cheese has remained a treat rather than becoming a staple. With a simple diet and an explosion of foreign and fast food on the island, many Arubans have ditched their traditions for newer, tastier things. Because of this, truly traditional Aruba food is not located on every street corner, but it is still out there.
Dining in Aruba would not be complete without sampling the wide variety of tasty seafood on offer. Shellfish like lobster, and fish such as mahi mahi and grouper, are plentiful on the island and make a good choice for an affordable meal.
Here are some dishes straight from the kitchens of local Aruban residents:
Keshi Yena: Frugality was the keynote of island living in earlier times, when provisions had to last from the visit of one sailing ship to the call of another. In this classic recipe the shell of a scooped Edam (the thin rind remaining after a family had consumed the four pounds of cheese) is filled with spiced meat, then baked in the oven or steamed in the top of a double boiler. For these methods of preparation the red wax must be removed from the empty shell after is has been soaked in hot water. In a more dramatic version the filled Edam, with the red wax intact, is. tied in cheese cloth and suspended in boiling water for twenty minutes. The wax melts away in the hot water, leaving a delicate pink blush on the cheese. Use chicken or beef for the filling.
Pisca den foil: Fish baked in foil with white wine.
Giambo: Giambo (pronounced ghee-yam-bo) is the Antillean gumbo, a thick, hearty soup. The pureed okra gives it a slippery consistency.
Funchi: Funchi, the Antillean staple, is a simple corn-meal preparation. It must be vigorously stirred while cooking and to the rhytm of these rotations old-time cooks repeated. Un pa mi, un pa bo, un pe. Funchi was then scooped from the kettle with a little round calabash, and the "funchi ball" was placed on each individual plate - "One for me, one for you, one for him". It is served with hearty soups like mondongo.
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