Latino Studies Caribbean Latino Cuisine
Zilkia Janer
  • LAST REVIEWED: 31 August 2015
  • LAST MODIFIED: 31 August 2015
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199913701-0102


Caribbean cuisines are the result of centuries of constant fusion. As the geographical center of the transatlantic trade that started with the European colonization of the Americas, the Caribbean was also at the center of the migration of peoples, foods, and cultures. The development of Caribbean Latino cuisines is a continuation of the constant process of change and transculturations that have characterized Caribbean cuisines from the beginning. The intense cultural exchanges between the United States and Cuba, the Dominican Republic, and Puerto Rico have left a mark on the culinary culture in the islands as well as in the United States. Caribbean Latino cuisine is not only creating new links between these four countries and their cuisines, it is also making visible the historical links that had become obscured by imperialism and nationalism. The complexity of Caribbean cultures and identities has intensified in the current stage of global capitalism, and they challenge the standard views of identity. Not surprisingly, the definition and negotiation of identity is at the center of scholarly and mass- market works on Caribbean Latino cuisines, whether they analyze how diasporic Caribbean populations use food to create a sense of self and home, discuss how food in literature constitutes a language to talk about identities in flux, or document recipes trying to fix, conserve, and transform a cultural heritage.

Reference Works

Reference works on Caribbean Latino cuisines are not easy to find. However, sources that focus on the food of the Caribbean without special reference to the United States provide a historical background necessary for the understanding of the development of Caribbean Latino cuisines. Lovera 1991 offers a history of the formation and evolution of eating patterns in the Caribbean region, while Ortiz Cuadra 2013 presents a more detailed account focusing on Puerto Rico, and Veloz Maggiolo and Tolentino Dipp 2007 features many historical and archaeological details about Dominican cuisine. Féliz-Camilo 2013 provides glossaries of culinary ingredients commonly used in the Dominican Republic. Janer 2008 discusses the specific transformations that Caribbean culinary cultures have undergone in the United States and also offers a historical account of Caribbean cuisines and a glossary of ingredients.

  • Féliz-Camilo, Arturo. Dominican Spice: Photographic Glossary of Dominican Herbs and Spices. New York: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2013a.

    A photographic glossary of common ingredients used in Dominican cooking, many of which are common to other Caribbean cuisines.

  • Féliz-Camilo, Arturo. The Dominican Cooking Lexicon. New York: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2013b.

    English edition of Diccionario culinario dominicano (2013). A glossary of ingredients used in Dominican cooking, many of which are also used in Cuban and Puerto Rican cooking.

  • Janer, Zilkia. Latino Food Culture. Westport, CT: Greenwood, 2008.

    An introduction to the food culture of Latinos, including a historical overview. Discusses the food culture of Cuban, Dominican, and Puerto Rican Latinos individually and in the wider Latino context.

  • Lovera, José Rafael. Gastronomía caribeña: Historia, recetas y bibliografía. Caracas, Venezuela: CEGA, 1991.

    Contains a history of the evolution of Caribbean foodways, a selection of traditional recipes from different countries including Cuba and Puerto Rico, and a bibliography of Caribbean cookbooks.

  • Ortiz Cuadra, Cruz M. Eating Puerto Rico: A History of Food, Culture, and Identity. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2013.

    A history of the transformations of Puerto Rican culinary culture, with separate chapters dedicated to staples such as rice, beans, cornmeal, codfish, viandas, and meat. This is the English version of Puerto Rico en la olla: ¿Somos aún lo que comimos? (2006).

  • Veloz Maggiolo, Marcio, and Hugo Tolentino Dipp. Gastronomía dominicana: Historia del sabor criollo. Santo Domingo, DR: Editora Corripio, 2007.

    The authors provide a detailed history of Dominican foodways starting in pre-Columbian times.

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