Dining rules in Antigua & Barbuda are relaxed,
very relaxed so there's little need to worry about making a wrong move. However,
it is still nice to understand how the local people dine and how to behave in a
restaurant or the home of a local. The first rule is that dining with friends or
family is meant as a social occasion so take your time and get to know your fellow
diners; meals can take hours and you should not make plans that force you to leave
Antigua & Barbuda is in the Caribbean and
that means there is no hurry; arriving a few minutes late is never an issue, but
dressing too casually can be. Try to dress in a relaxed, but slightly more formal
manner than you otherwise would in Antigua & Barbuda, although a tie or a formal
dress is a bit overboard on almost all occasions.
If eating in a local's home you will most likely be shown a seat, but don't
sit until invited to do so. Meals may begin with drinks or just the food and as
the guest you may be invited to take your food first. Try to eat in the continental
style (knife in the right hand, fork in the left) and keep your hands within sight
by resting your wrists on the edge of the table. Again, your host will likely not
be offended if you eat in the incorrect manner, but do your best to follow their
As you finish eating, place your fork and knife together on your plate to indicate
you have finished. If eating in a restaurant, call the server over by making eye
contact; don't wave or call his/her name. Most restaurants will include a service
charge in the bill, but if not, add up to 10% for good service.
Celebrations & Events
The greatest celebration in Antigua & Barbuda
is Carnival (not to be confused with Carnaval or Mardis Gras that
takes place prior to Lent). This celebration takes place in late July and early
August to celebrate the freeing of slaves. In addition to the great cultural experience
that the festival offers, including music and dancing in the streets, it also offers
numerous local street foods and food fairs throughout the country. Although no particular
foods are associated with Carnival, eating with friends to celebrate is an essential
part of the festival and it's a great way to try local foods.
Antigua & Barbuda also celebrates their
independence day on November 1st with various food festivals and again this is a
time when people get outside and celebrate with friends and neighbors, making it
easy to join in the festivities.
When it comes to drinks in Antigua & Barbuda
it begins with the local fruit juices, which are ever present. Raspberry, mango,
passion fruit, guava, tamarind, and lemonade are all popular and readily available.
Soft drinks are also common with both international and local varieties on the islands.
Other non-alcoholic drinks like coffee and tea are available, but not really popular.
On the alcoholic side, rum rules as it does for much of the Caribbean. If drinking
in the country the best option is the local rums made by Cavalier which also form
the base for numerous mixed drinks. Beer is also popular in
Antigua & Barbuda and the local favorite is Wadadli, although
international beers are offered as well. Wine and other alcoholic beverages are
available in the country, but not as commonly consumed by the people.
The tap water is generally safe to drink in Antigua
& Barbuda, however confirm this with your hotel or guesthouse, particularly
during hurricane season as the water can be contaminated. If you do drink the water,
many people may have trouble adjusting to the local tap water, as it will most certainly
be different from what your system is used to if you are not from the region.