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Floribbean cuisine is found in varying forms in Florida restaurants and in the homes of many Floridians throughout the state. The essence of what makes a particular dish "Floribbean" is similar to that of certain other aspects of variable Floridian culture: it is influenced by visitors and immigrants from all over the world, but especially from the Caribbean (with notable influence from Haiti, the Bahamas, Barbados, Guyana, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago), Cuba and Puerto Rico. In the case of southern Florida in particular, a subdivision called Latin-Floribbean or Hispano-Floribbean cuisine also borrows features of Latin American cuisine from such countries as Mexico, Cuba, Colombia, Argentina, Brazil, and the Dominican Republic, as well as the US commonwealth of Puerto Rico, adding more influences to the mix. To distinguish the Latin Caribbean style from the non-Latin Caribbean style, the terms Afro-Floribbean cuisine and Indo-Floribbean cuisine are sometimes used, as the majority of the Caribbean islands have substantial populations of African or Indian heritage, descendants of slaves or immigrants transported to the islands colonized by British, French, and Dutch settlers.
The arrival of several waves of Caribbean, Hispanic, and Asian immigrants to Florida since the late 1800s has played an important role in the development of Floribbean cuisine. The use of seafood, as well as of Asian and Caribbean ingredients and cooking methods have made Floribbean cookery generally healthier than meat- and fat-heavy cuisines. Floribbean-style cooking also incorporates an exotic spice pantry: red curry, lemongrass, ginger, and scallions are as commonly used today in Floribbean cookery as grits and cobbler are in other parts of Florida.
As Floribbean cuisine evolved in South Florida it was strongly influenced by Asian culinary principles emphasizing the use of locally harvested Asian fruits and vegetables that will grow only in subtropical parts of the continental United States, where it rarely freezes.
Various types of the wide variety of seafood caught off Florida's 1350 miles of coastline are often paired with tropical fruits such as mangos, papayas, plantains, coconuts, citrus and lychees. The fusion of these flavors led to the development of this distinctive South Florida regional cuisine.
Typical features of Floribbean cuisine include:
- An emphasis on fresh ingredients
- Complex medleys of spices, especially strong flavors offset by milder ones
- An emphasis on seafood and poultry
- Generous use of fresh fruit and juices, especially citrus and sweet tropical fruits
- Special care in presentation, seeking a more natural effect rather than an ostentatious one
Floribbean cooking often uses less spicy heat than the Caribbean dishes that inspire it, but there is extensive use of several kinds of peppers. This pungency, however, is almost always moderated by the use of mango, papaya, rum, almond, coconut, key lime, or honey.
In south Floridian homes, traditional Southern foods such as coleslaw, black-eyed peas, or crab cakes are often served in the same meal as a more nuanced Floribbean dish. In most restaurants serving Floribbean cuisine, however, entire meals are planned around a succession of delicate, complex flavors and so most dishes have been altered from their traditional forms.
Further information: Regional variations of barbecue
This is one of the three regional versions of barbecue in Florida, found mainly in Central Florida, of which this is the first of two styles to be influenced by Caribbean. This version of Floridian barbecue basically mixes American Deep South barbecue styles with Indo-Caribbean and Afro-Caribbean barbecue styles.
This mixes Floribbean cuisine with Latin American cuisine, resulting in strong Cuban, Puerto Rican, and Dominican influences. As commonly served in Florida, some dishes are variations or fusions of traditional foods from various Latin American / Hispanic countries, while others are original dishes inspired by the older cuisines. Much of this cuisine can be found in South Florida from Palm Beach County to Miami-Dade County. Below are some examples:
- Arroz con Pollo
- White or Yellow Rice with Black Beans
- Arroz con Gandules
- Boiled Yuca
- Cuban sandwiches
A fusion of Floribbean barbecue and Latin-Floribbean cuisine, tropical barbacoa blends Mexican, Cuban, Puerto Rican, Jamaican, Bahamian, and American Deep South barbecue cuisines. This is another of the three regional barbecue styles in Florida, found mainly in Southern Florida, and the second of two influenced by Caribbean cuisines. This is also the only Floridian barbecue style that is also influenced by Latin American cuisine. One example of this style would be pechuga de pollo a la plancha (grilled chicken breast seasoned with citrus juice). Brazilian-style steakhouses (rodizios) also very commonly employ this barbecue style.
- Bennett, Michael "In the Land of Misfits, Pirates and Cooks". The Professional Image, 2009, p.15
- Bennett, Michael "Underneath a Cloudless Sky". The Professional Image, 2010, p.23
- Blum, Andrea A. (April 22, 2004). "Floribbean cuisine is the marriage of the familiar, and not-so-familiar" in The Saint Augustine Record.
- Nenes, Michael F. (2007) "American Regional Cuisine", Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
- Hartz, Deborah (2004). "What Goes Around..." South Florida Sun Sentinel. March 25.
- Lang, John (2007). "America, the Melting Pot." Foodservice Director. August 15.
- Parseghian, Pamela (2002). "Hunger for new tastes drives Caribbean menu influences." Nation's Restaurant News.
- Richman, Alan (2004). Fork it over: the Intrepid Adventures of a Professional Eater. New York: HarperCollins.
- Bennett, Michael (2009) "In the Land of Misfits, Pirates and Cooks". The Professional Image