If you are traveling to Aruba, it’s necessary to try Aruban dishes and dive right into the island’s delicious culture.
This Caribbean oasis of an island is not only full of beautiful beaches, friendly natives, and good vibes; but there’s also amazing food. Aruban dishes combine different cuisines from other destinations around the world to make their own unique meals. To name a few: South American, Dutch, and Caribbean cultures all collide to form Aruban eats. Immerse yourself with these traditional dishes that locals love too.
Translated as “smashed bread,” pan bati is a sweet flatbread made from cornmeal. It is similar to a pancake, as pan bati is made the same way and is fluffy just as a pancake is, but it is often eaten with savory flavors. Commonly dipped in soups, pan bati is also known as sopis.
Ayaca is Latin American-derived and usually enjoyed during Christmas time in Aruba. There tends to be a few different ways to make it, depending on the family recipe. At the base, there’s typically a blend of meats, dried fruits, nuts, and spices wrapped in banana leaves and then steamed. Ayaca is normally only served around the holidays, so if you would like to try some, heading there for a warm Christmas would be the best way.
Perhaps one of the most popular dishes in Aruba, keshi yena is translated to “stuffed cheese,” and comes from Dutch influence. It consists of a leftover rind of cheese – mainly gouda or edam – hollowed out and stuffed with meat, spices, green peppers, onions, raisins, and more. There are tons of variations of this famous meal.
Cala is an “edible souvenir” from Aruba rather than a dish, but it is an Aruban food you must try while visiting the island. The snack consists of black-eyed peas and Madame Jeanette hot peppers coated with batter, then fried. They are served while still hot.
Funchi is a cornmeal porridge similar to polenta. It is perhaps the most popular Aruban side dish, and can be served during all three meals. It is commonly a side dish to stobas, sopis, fish platters, and fried plantains. It can be devoured in a few different ways, including fried and crispy topped with cheese, cooled and sliced into thin pieces, or topped with butter.
One popular seafood meal is keri keri, boiled whitefish filet then sautéed with onion, celery, fresh basil, tomato, green peppers, and annatto powder. If “catch-of-the-day” is an option on the menu, you cannot go wrong as Aruba generally guarantees high-quality seafood. Some others you need to try include prawns, mahi-mahi, lobster, and pisca hasa or fried fish.
Pastechi is known as the “national snack” of Aruba. It’s widely popular and often eaten as a breakfast item or as a snack. This crescent-shaped fried pastries filled with cheese can also be stuffed with beef, ham, chicken, fish, or vegetables. Since pastechi is incredibly iconic in Aruba, you can indulge them all around the island. But, The Pastechi House in downtown Oranjestad is the preferred location.
Stobas & Sopis
The aforementioned stobas and sopis are Aruban stews and soups. The more popular stobas are carni stoba (beef stew,) galiña stoba (chicken stew,) cabrito stoba (goat stew,) and calco stoba (conch stew.)
Sopi is also a frequently eaten Aruban dish, with one famous sopi being the cool island soup served chilled and made with numerous fruits like pineapple, apricot, cantaloupe, and papaya. Other preferred sopis are sopi mondongo (bone marrow soup,) or sopi di pampuna (pumpkin soup.)
You can’t have a meal without dessert, especially when traveling to a new destination. Cocada is a sweet treat made of shredded coconut, sugar, and lime juice. It’s the perfect snack to satisfy your sweet cravings and can be purchased at supermarkets and street stalls.