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Caribbean flavors shine at capital culture fest

By Liu Zhihua | China Daily | Updated: 2016-05-06 08:35

The history of the Caribbean is one of migrations and with that came a fusion of cultures, traditions and flavors. That's why Caribbean cuisine represents a rich fusion of cooking traditions and flavors of the indigenous peoples as well as centuries of migrants from Africa, India, China, Europe and the Middle East, according to organizers of last weekend's Caribbean Food and Cultural Festival in Beijing.

The event was part of the China-Latin America and Caribbean 2016 Year of Culture Exchange, which was proposed by President Xi Jinping at a meeting in Brasilia with regional leaders in July 2014.

Michael Hinds, an award-winning Michelin-starred chef, and Paul Griffith, a celebrity chef in Hollywood, were the Caribbean chefs behind the festival.

Griffith says the event was "a good opportunity for people in China to taste Caribbean food, because obviously not a lot of (Chinese) people go to the Caribbean. So we brought Caribbean food here. I think it's really good culture exchange."

The region's fare is based on the lifestyle of workers on sugar plantations, where people tended to eat a lot of "heavy food" that would give them energy, such as sweet potatoes and yams. Today in fine-dining venues, the food is beautifully presented, says Hinds.

While Chinese food uses stir-frying a lot, Caribbean cooks favor shallow-frying, he adds, noting that both cuisines embrace fresh ingredients, use a lot of herbs and spices, and generally do not overcook vegetables.

The China - Latin America and Caribbean 2016 Year of Culture Exchange, which features a series of activities including music festival, food festival, film festival and exhibitions will run till July.

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