For this TEAtime, I’m focusing primarily on eating. Given all the delicious foods there are in Suriname and Guyana, this was a really difficult list to make. Initially, I wanted to recommend one food from each country but instead, I ended up with a 2,000-word post and 10 different foods. Even this was still challenging, and once you start reading the post you’ll realize I snuck in a few extras too. “10 Things to Eat in Guyana and Suriname” is part food recommendation and part what I ate while I was visiting the two countries. Without further ado, here are 10ish food highlights from my most recent trip to Guyana and Suriname.
1. (Dahl) Puri and Curry & Roti and Curry.
Firstly, roti and puri are two different things so this is actually two dishes that you can try while in Guyana. The big difference between roti and puri is that puri has split peas inside of it, and roti does not. Personally, I prefer roti over puri because I find the split peas in puri soaks up too much curry. However, don’t let my biases affect your decision. Try both to figure out which one you like the most. Also try different types of curries – curry chicken, curry goat, curry duck, etc.
2. Guyanese Pastries
Guyana has some of the best pastries in the world! Now you could say I’m slightly bias because I’m from Guyana. But! I’ve also been to 10 countries on 5 out of 7 continents. I know good food. (I also know bad food.) The pastries in Guyana are truly one of a kind, and absolutely delicious. My favorites include: pine tart, cheese rolls, and salara. Pine tart is a pineapple-filled pastry, cheese roll is cheese-filled pastry and salara is a shredded coconut-filled pastry. Cheese rolls are savory while the other two are sweet. These three pastries are among my personal favorites but feel free to explore the many options available.
Photo Credit: Sybil’s Resturant and Bakery, in Jamaica Queens, NY.
3. Pepperpot, a National Dish of Guyana
Pepperpot originates from the indigenous people of Guyana. It is a meat stew made from cassareep. There’s beef or pork pepperpot, and in recent years chicken pepperpot and turkey pepperpot have become red meat alternatives. The best time of year for pepperpot is Christmas. It’s a Guyanese Christmas staple much in the way turkey is a staple of the American Thanksgiving. You can find pepperpot outside of the holiday season, but it’s best during the holiday season. This is part of the reason why I went to Guyana right after Christmas, to get a cheaper flight and to get pepperpot. Regardless of when you go to Guyana, make sure to have some pepperpot with rice or bread.
- Photo Credit: Sybil’s Restaurant and Bakery, in Jamaica Queens, NY.
4. Black Pudding
Black pudding is basically blood and seasoned-rice stuffed in “runners”, aka animal intestine. FYI: You don’t eat the runner that the rice is stuffed in, just the rice itself. Most people eat black pudding with some “sour”. Sour is a cucumber- or mango-based sauce that goes with several different Guyanese dishes. There are quite a bit of Guyanese people who don’t eat black pudding because they think it’s gross. I personally love it and can’t wait to have some every time I go back. If the idea of eating blood also makes you squeamish, there’s a bloodless version called white pudding that you can try.
5. Shandy and Banks Beer
Banks beers and shandies are popular drinks in Guyana. Shandy comes in several flavors: Lemon, Sorrel, Champagne, Honey Lemon, and Citrus Punch. I had the champagne flavor for the first time on this trip back to Guyana. I liked it, but sorrel is still my favorite flavor. Both shandy and Banks beer are alcoholic beverages. For a nonalcoholic alternative try an I-CEE cream soda or a (nonalcoholic) malta. In my family, we sometimes like to mix in some milk with our cream soda or malta. Give it a try.
Photo Credit: Bank DIH Ltd.
1. Roti and Curry
While in Suriname I tried their version of roti with curry chicken. Their version of roti tasted like a combination of Guyanese puri and roti. It looked like roti from the outside but there were spilt peas on the inside like puri. I thought the Surinamese roti was a good middle ground between the Guyanese roti and puri until towards the end when I ran out of curry because those split peas just soaked up everything. I would definitely have this again, with more curry next time. Eventually, I hope to try all the different types of roti and curry around the world (and have one blog post talking about them all).
Photo Credit: Me.
2. Surinamese Cassava Bread
Cassava bread is popular across the Central and South American regions, and in the Caribbean. In general, I’d say all standard cassava bread tastes the same but it comes in different shapes and sizes depending on which country you get it from. In Suriname, they have the standard cassava bread and they have a type of cassava bread that is folded in half and stuffed with a shredded coconut and ginger filling. The filling is similar to that of salara, though it is slightly darker and browner in color, with an added kick of ginger. I loved this version of cassava bread.
3. Local fruits
While in Suriname, take advantage of the many fresh tropical fruits. There’s mangoes, coconuts, avocados, guinep and so much more. Also, take advantage of the different variations of fruits you already know. I had my first Surinamese apple on this trip. The apples here are Otaheiti apples. They were soft and sweet. My favorite types of apples are sour green Granny Smiths, so these Surinamese apples were the complete opposite of that. Still, they tasted great and were a nice change of pace from what I am used to. If you’re taking a larger trek through northern/eastern South America, you could possibly add apple tasting to your to-do list. There are golden apples in Guyana, Otaheiti apples in Suriname, and cashew apples in Brazil. I don’t know what kinds of apples are available in French Guiana, but when I get there I’ll let you know.
Photo Credit: Me.
4. Dutch Pancakes
I first had Dutch pancakes in Aruba and I thought they were great! So I gave them another try while I was in Suriname. I had the mini pancakes at Pannekoek & Poffertjes Café as an appetizer. These tasted like fried dough, similar to a funnel cake. And they were topped with powdered sugar, just like funnel cakes too. I really enjoyed these mini Dutch pancakes. From the pictures of the full-size pancakes on TripAdvisor, there are tons of great pancake options at this restaurant. I wish I tried more. Maybe next time. Also, I ate the pancakes before I could take a picture, but here’s a photo of the menu. (If you can’t tell by now I ate a lot of the foods before I remembered to take pictures, because … priorities.)
Pannekoek & Poffertjes Café Menu
Photo Credit: Me.
5. Surinamese-style Chow Mein
Like curry and roti, there are many different versions of chow mein across different countries. I love noodles in all their forms – chow mein, lo mein, soba, udon, even those cheap ramen and cup-a-noodle noodles. I was destined to love Surinamese chow mein before I ever tasted it. It was spicy and well seasoned. Two thumbs up!
Photo Credit: Me.
These are just a few of the many great foods I enjoyed on my most recent trip to Guyana and Suriname. There are tons more to try if you ever visit either of these two countries. If you ever visit either Guyana or Suriname, really take advantage of the opportunity to eat a wide variety of foods that encompass African, Asian, European, and indigenous South American cuisine. Additionally, if you’re pescatarian or vegetarian, Guyana and Suriname are great places to visit. There are tons of meatless dishes and fresh local fruits that you can choose from. In Guyana, there are also tons of halal food options and restaurants for you enjoy as well.
A: Activities in Guyana
Guyana National Museum
Besides eating, when you’re in Guyana visit the Guyana National Museum to learn about the history, topography, and zoology of the country. Guyana is a former Dutch and British colony, and now the only English speaking country in South America. I personally wanted to learn more about Guyanese history and culture on this trip, so I thought this was a good way to get a quick summary.
Once you’re done with the museum take a short walk over to the Stabroek Market and clock tower. This downtown area is where you can find all of the foods mentioned above. Also, try a snow cone or grab some fresh coconut water to cool you down. If you’d like to get out of Georgetown, there are tours to the interior and Kaieteur Falls. However, I’ve never done any tours or made it further into the country. I hope to do that on a future trip.
Stabroek Market and Clock Tower. Photo Credit: Me.
T: Travel Lodging in Suriname
Hotel Tropical Inn
I stayed at the Hotel Tropical Inn in Kwattaweg, Paramaribo. It cost $5,000 Guyana dollars a night, or $25USD. The hotel room was really small, the shower drained weird and flooded the rest of the bath, and there was no hot water. This “hotel” felt more like a hostel, than a full hotel. That said, I was in Suriname for two nights so I could overlook these shortcomings. If I was staying longer – say longer than 3 nights – I would need better accommodations. I can’t say that I would recommend this hotel for anyone planning an extended stay in Paramaribo. But if you’re only spending a night or two, at $25 a night, the Tropical Inn might serve you well enough.
Photo Credit: Me.
If you’re looking for something to do in Suriname, downtown Paramaribo is very walkable. I spent an entire day just exploring downtown and I didn’t even see all of it. There’s rich history, architecture, and food downtown. After you get your fill of things to eat you can also go shopping in one of many stores. If you want to really explore Suriname there are plenty of tours you can take. I personally didn’t have time for a tour since my visit was so short. But if you have more time, I’ve included some information below about the tours I saw offered. Additionally, there are several casinos and other nightlife and entertainment options.
If you would like a formal tour of downtown Paramaribo – with stops at major sites like Fort Zeelandia, the Suriname City Mosque, and the Neveh Shalom Jewish Synagogue – there are city tours like this one, priced around $30USD.
If you want to head to the mountains, the nature park, or go zip lining, there are several tours available, priced between $70USD and $200USD.
A Few Notes About Money:
- It bears repeating: If you travel to Suriname via ferry, you’ll have the option to change money at the ferry. Don’t change the bulk of your money at the ferry, wait until you get to Paramaribo. The exchange rates are better in the city. For more on this see my post, “To Suriname and Back.”
- Also, as I mentioned in my previous post on “How to get a Surinamese Visa,” don’t convert between Surinamese and Guyanese currencies. You’ll lose money. To get the best exchange rates, only convert from USD to Guyanese and Surinamese currencies. If you’re using pounds, euros, or Canadian dollars, the same rule applies to you.
- For the best currency exchange rates, change money at Cambio in both Guyana and Suriname.
- More places in Suriname accept credit/debit cards than in Guyana. I saw many stores and some restaurants that accepted Visa and Mastercards in Suriname, but cash is king in Guyana so bring plenty. I recommend about $400USD cash for 2 weeks in Guyana.
- Western Union and MoneyGram are the best ways to send money to Guyana and Suriname.
$4,000GY is about $20USD, but $100SRD is only about $13USD, meaning you lose $7USD per $4,000GY that you convert using this exchange rate.
Say you convert $12,000GY, or $60USD, by the exchange rate listed here you’ll only get $300SRD which is $39USD. Meaning, you’ll lose $21USD. If you convert $60USD directly you’ll get $447SRD.
If you’d like to see more about my trip to Guyana and Suriname, check out my previous two posts about my trip. Also follow my blog across social media – on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, and of course, right here on WordPress.
If you’d like a taste of Guyana without leaving home, I highly recommend trying some of the recipes I’ve linked to. Alternatively, you can also just find a Guyanese restaurant – like Sybil’s. I’ve recently moved out of New York City and really far away from any Guyanese restaurants so I’ve started trying my hand at making many of these Guyanese foods at home. Most recently I tried to make pine tarts. On my first attempt, my pine tarts didn’t come out looking anything like what they’re supposed to. But they tasted spot on. I say all that to say, even if your baking doesn’t look exactly like it should, as long as you included all the correct ingredients it should still taste close to the way it should. Given that we can’t all travel as often as we like, sometimes misshapen pine tarts will just have to do. (Ideally, I’ll get better with time.)
Have you ever been to Guyana or Suriname? Do you plan to go? I’d love to know! Make sure to leave your comments or further questions down below.