Regional Variations, Specialties, & Unique Dishes
Manicou: stewed or smoked opossum
Mountain Chicken: frog legs from a large local frog that can only
be caught seasonally so is considered a local delicacy
Dining rules in Dominica 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 early.
Dominica 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 Dominica, although a tie or 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 10-15% for good service.
Celebrations & Events
The festivals in Dominica are nearly unlimited, but the
highlight is Mas Dominik, which is a Carnival celebration that takes place
just prior to Lent. Like most Carnival celebrations, this event is filled with music,
dancing, partying, and too much alcohol for everyone's safety. Although food
is not the highlight of this festival, everyone tends to eat out as local restaurants
are packed and any place that served alcohol is even busier; this is a great time
to meet locals while trying the local foods and drinks.
Independence Day in Dominica is celebrated on November
3 and is truly a festival to highlight and take pride in the country's creole
culture. This day offers unique sights, sounds, and traditional creole foods that
can't be missed.
If you can't make it during either of the above celebrations you may still find
a local festival as most villages on the island have their own festival and these
events are scattered throughout the year. This is truly a cultural event on a small
scale as the local village celebrates its uniqueness and opens its doors to everyone
as they offer their best foods, drinks, and cultural gems.
Dominica has a good selection of non-alcoholic drinks,
but surprisingly has a significant tea culture. Unlike many of its neighbors, Dominica
grows teas on its mountain slopes and they have become a part of the local culture.
Juices are also very common with numerous local drinks available including coconut
milk/water and the local specialty, "sorrel," which is made from a local
flower. The island also has numerous soft drinks, coffee, milk, and other popular
During the evening you prefer an alcoholic drink and Dominica
has a good variety. Rum is popular, but beer is nearly as common. The local rums
include "Macoucherie" and "Belfast" and the local beer of choice
tends to be "Kubuli." Other hard liquors and wines are also available,
but not as popular as beer or rum.
The tap water is generally safe to drink in Dominica, however
confirm this with your hotel or guesthouse, particularly during hurricane season
or after a heavy rain 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.