Aruba Feature

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Chowing Down Aruban Style

With its pristine white-sand beaches, clear blue waters, and near perfect year-round weather, Aruba is a mecca for vacationers looking for a warm getaway. The island as a whole caters to the demanding tourism industry, which has resulted in a mainly resort-food dining scene. But if you're interested in tasting something other than standard American fare—and something a bit more unique to the Dutch- and Caribbean-influenced island—then you ought to try one of these local treats.

Balashi: After a day at the beach there's nothing better than sipping a nice, cold Balashi, Aruba's national beer and the only beer brewed on the island. The taste of Balashi is comparable to a Dutch pilsner.

Bitterballen: Crispy bite-size meatballs, which are breaded and then deep-fried, make for the perfect savory snack or appetizer. Dip them in a side of mustard, and wash them down with a cold Balashi.

Bolita di Keshi: These deep-fried cheese balls are as good as they sound. They make for a tasty, albeit highly caloric, appetizer.

Funchi: This classic Aruban cornmeal side dish is eaten at all times of day, and it is commonly served with soup.

Keshi Yena: A hearty, stick-to-your-ribs traditional Aruban dish of baked cheese (commonly Gouda) stuffed with chicken, spices, and raisins in a rich brown sauce.

Pan Bati: These pancakelike accompaniments are similar to funchi but slightly sweeter. As opposed to funchi, which is only made of cornmeal, pan bati is a combination of cornmeal, sugar, salt, and baking powder. It's commonly eaten as a side with a meat, fish, or soup entree.

Pastechi: This empanada-like fried pastry, filled with traditional spiced meat or cheese, is served at all times of day. Although it's a favorite appetizer or snack, pastechi is also a popular breakfast item that can be found at most hotel breakfast buffets.

Sate: Marinated chunks of chicken or pork are skewered on a bamboo stick and then grilled and served with spicy peanut sauce.

Updated: 10-2013

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