Shop Like a Local in Saint Lucia
In this Yahoo Travel column, we scout out what to buy around the globe. These are the places where insiders go to find their treasures — and the best deals. After all, who doesn’t want to know how to shop like a local? Here’s what to buy on the island of Saint Lucia.
Don’t even mention Bacardi in Saint Lucia. (St. Lucia Distillers/Facebook)
Everywhere you go in Saint Lucia, someone is offering you a rum punch. And if someone mentions “rum Sundays,” they’re not kidding. (The spirit is extremely ubiquitous on Friday nights, too.) But if it’s local rum you’re after, St. Lucia Distillers is it. They make several rums, but favorites among the locals and those in the know include: Crystal Lime Citrus Rum (a white rum), Chairman’s Reserve Spiced Rum, Admiral Rodney and 1931 (both super premium rums).
Cacao beens at Anse Chastanet (Photo: Facebook/Anse Chastanet)
The island is lousy with cocoa trees, dripping with big yellow pods. But currently, the only place that produces and sells Saint Lucian chocolate is on the grounds of the Anse Chastanet resort. In the boutiques along the beach there, you can buy its Emerald Estate chocolate with yummy versions from 60 percent cocoa with cocoa nibs (sweet, with a little crunch from the bits of nibs) to a 90 percent bitter bar. They also make flavors from lemon grass to cinnamon (real cinnamon, not some gross flavoring). You can also get a cocoa stick to grate on deserts or mix with milk and sugar for Saint Lucian cocoa tea (aka, hot chocolate). Those you can find at the Castries Market and many other places.
This gray stuff is the sulfur mud that is supposed to work wonders on your skin. (Photo: S Chia/Flickr)
Yup, mud. Specifically mud from the sulfur springs near Soufriere. It doesn’t smell very good (kind of like rotten eggs) but locals believe it has healing powers and that it’s good for the skin. You can either visit the springs yourself (where you’ll also see the world’s only “drive-in” volcano), or hit the Castries market in the country’s capital city. There, vendors sell baggies of what is essentially the dried mud. Mix it with some water and apply.
Banana Ketchup and Assorted Hot Sauces
Assorted hot sauces and banana ketchup (Photo: bionicgrrrl/Flickr)
You know what they say: When in Saint Lucia, do as the Saint Lucians do. And the Saint Lucians love their banana ketchup. The preferred brand is Baron, and It’s a golden yellow, a little thicker than ketchup, and sweet. It basically tastes how you’d think banana ketchup would taste. Hot sauce is another local fave. There are super hot versions, but the most popular is Baron’s West Indian Hot Sauce Piquante des Antilles (spicy Caribbean) made with a blend of peppers and mustard. You can find tons of varieties at the Castries Market.
Local Fruits, Veggies, and Spices
Fresh papayas at the Castries Market (Photo: Meng He/Flickr)
During the week the Castries Market is largely for souvenirs like wooden knickknacks, straw hats, and traditionally dressed dolls. But come Saturday area farmers bring all their produce and goods to sell at the market. Picks that just say “Saint Lucia” are any manner of ground provisions (the local term for root vegetables) from potatoes to cassava; spices like cinnamon and star anise; and fruits from green bananas to mangoes and papayas.
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