The food of the islands is influenced by the diverse cultures that have settled there, as well as the meats, fruits, and vegetables that are widely available. Traditional Virgin Islands  dishes include grilled or fried fish. Grilled fish is often cooked with onions, peppers, and other seasonings wrapped in aluminum foil over a grill. Fried fish is traditionally cooked in hot fat over a charcoal fire. Often, you are served a whole fish (including the head). Fungi, a side dish made from cornmeal and not unlike polenta, is the traditional accompaniment to fish. More common side dishes today include potato salad, coleslaw, corn, and peas and rice.
Saltfish is another island favorite. Made from salt cod, saltfish is a pungent hash of flaked fish seasoned with onions and peppers. It is often served for breakfast, or cooked inside patties or patés—fried, meat-stuffed bread eaten for breakfast. Whelk and conch are two more popular seafoods. Whelks are generally smaller and more tender, and their flesh is darker than conch, which is white. Both shellfish are tenderized by pounding or pressure-cooking until they are soft. Conch in butter sauce is probably its most popular presentation; conch soup, made with dumplings and vegetables, is also well-liked.
Virgin Islanders also like to eat meat. Goat meat, called mutton, is the most commonly served red meat. Stewed mutton is flavorful and tender. Goat water is filling goat soup, often served late at night. Oxtail, which tastes like beef stew, is another popular red meat. Souse is made of pig’s head and tail. Pork, served roasted and stewed, is also popular. Chicken is very popular and is consumed in many forms, including stewed, barbecued, and curried. Chicken palau is chicken cooked with seasonings and rice.
Vegetables and fruits are an important part of the Virgin Islands diet, but only as side dishes. Vegetarianism is not widespread, except among the Rastafarian minority. Local fruits are used to make drinks, including guavaberry liqueur, a sweet Christmas drink; sorrel; soursop, often made with milk; hibiscus, made from the petals of hibiscus flowers; and maubi, made from the bark of a local tree. In addition, fruit punch made from guava, mango, passion fruit, pineapple, orange, and other fruits is popular.
Bananas and plantains are used a lot in cooking. Green bananas can be steamed and served as a starchy side dish. Plantains are fried or boiled and served with fish and other dishes. White sweet potatoes, often served boiled and sliced, are sweet like yams but much more starchy. Pumpkin is used to make delicious pumpkin soup, pumpkin rice, pumpkin bread, and pumpkin fritters. Another traditional soup is kallaloo, made from greens.
The most common grain is probably rice, and it is often cooked with pigeon peas, beans, or seasonings. In the British Virgin Islands, peas and rice are often cooked with a little bit of sugar. Johnnycakes are discs of fried, hot bread, served alongside fish or chicken or just eaten as a snack. Coconut bread is a round, flat, mildly sweet loaf. Fritters of all kinds are popular, including pumpkin fritters, conch fritters, and banana fritters.
With the influx of travelers, gourmet cooks, and immigrants, the cuisine of the Virgin Islands  has changed. Besides the American influence of fast food and convenience food, island eating has been influenced by the Caribbean people who have migrated to the Virgin Islands. Curries and rotis, curried food wrapped in a chickpea and flour tortilla, have been imported from the southern Caribbean island of Trinidad. Jerk-seasoned chicken and pork is a Jamaican standard. Fried flying fish is from Barbados. Many traditional Puerto Rican recipes are highly seasoned; pork is a favorite of the Spanish tradition.
In addition, talented cooks have taken the traditional seasonings, flavors, and cooking methods of the Virgin Islands and created sophisticated dishes in many of the best island restaurants. While they may not be traditional, these dishes are by all means Caribbean.
It is easy to find restaurants that serve traditional island food, but most do not cater exclusively to tourists. Nevertheless, they will be delighted to see visitors who are interested in tasting local foods.