Grand Turk: Culture, Music and Cuisine
Grand Turk is a popular cruise ship destination due to its location in the Caribbean. The small tropical island with a laid back lifestyle has plenty to offer for visitors arriving by cruise ship as well as tourists who are planning on spending more days here. Grand Turk is famous for being a great Scuba diving destination on the third largest barrier reef in the world, has a rich history in the salt trading industry, and above all, is well-known for its splendid beaches
The island Grand Turk shares a lot cultural elements with the Bahamas. The Turks and Caicos Islands are actually the southernmost islands in the Bahama island chain although they are a separate country now and not part of the Bahamas. With the booming of tourism, it remains unknown whether this will influence cultural aspects of Grand Turk and the whole Turks and Caicos Islands. Several attempts have been made by the government to encourage the preservation of local culture. A number of cultural awareness programs emerged and the Chief Cultural Officer Post was developed. In 2003, a new event was created, the Conch Festival, an annual event that goes along with a food festival and contains elements of the local culture such as its cuisine and music.
Grand Turk has its own specific music style, called Ripsaw. This local music genre was developed during slavery times and consists of scrapping utils such as a screwdriver over a saw blad to create a scrapping sound. When someone plays this music genre, they refer to it as ripping the saw. Still traditional instruments like guitar, drums and triangle are often used as well.
Junkanoo is another music genre often played on the Turks and Caicos Islands. It was introduced on the islands by returning locals after they had left to find work in the nearby Bahamas.
The cuisine of Grand Turk and Caicos Islands is typified by seafood, as it is often on islands and countries located by the ocean. Conch is an often used ingredient in their dishes. This edible marine snail tastes similar to clams, even though it is a bit more rubbery. It’s an ingredient they are proud of, the conch is one of the three symbols on their flag. If you walk into a restaurant and ask for their signature dish, chances are high it will involve conch.
Over the years, local dishes have been influenced by immigrants from Jamaica and the Bahamas as well. Most conch dishes were inspired by the Bahamas while the flavorful BBQ jerk chicken added another spicy element.