What's Cooking In... Aruba

By Sandra Scott
This item appears on page 50 of the April 2015 issue.
Chef Dwight Stamper presenting goat stew. Photo by Sandra Scott<br />

Situated just 18 miles north of Venezuela, Aruba is a Caribbean island only 20 miles long and six miles wide. The island is one of the safest Caribbean destinations, where even the water is safe to drink. 

When my husband, John, and I visited in November 2014, we stayed at Sunset Beach Studios (L.G. Smith Boulevard 486, Malmok, Aruba; phone, in Aruba, [297] 586 3940 or, toll free in the US, 800/813-6540, www.arubasunsetbeach.com). We paid $100 for a room with a porch that offered a view of the sunset.

There were many things we liked about Sunset Beach Studios. It was small, located in a quiet area and had a pool, plus the staff was very helpful, suggesting car rentals and things to do. 

Driving on the island is easy, if you don’t mind roundabouts. The signage is not as good as it could be, however, so, after exploring on our own, we booked a half-day north shore tour with ABC Tours (Schotlandstraat 61, Oranjestad, Aruba; phone, in Aruba, [297] 582 5600 or, in the US, 888/815-3577) for $75. 

Aruba may be small, but it has two distinct regions. The south is where the tourist areas are, with hotels, beaches and gentle seas, while the north shore is lined with cliffs pounded by waves and is virtually devoid of habitation. 

On our tour, we visited the beautiful Alto Vista Chapel, the ruins of a gold mine and unique rock formations with petroglyphs. 

I asked about the goats freely grazing in many areas. Our guide, Rocky, said some were feral and others were part of a free-roaming herd. 

“Do the people eat goat?” I inquired. 

The goat stew, plated. Photo by Sandra Scott

Rocky said, “Yes, of course. The island has few natural resources, so goat stew is a traditional Aruban meal.” 

Rocky explained that the arid island was not suitable for plantations; therefore, slavery was not as widespread there as in other parts of the Caribbean. Instead, the Spanish imported goats. At one time, Aruba was called “Goat Island.” 

When I asked where we could get some goat stew, he said that goat stew is served at the Waka Waka Adventure CafĂ© & Cantina  (Schotlandstraat 61, Lok. 2, Oranjestad, Aruba; phone +[297] 582 5600), located next to ABC Tours’ office. 

After the tour we went to the restaurant, where Chef Dwight Stamper invited us to watch him prepare goat stew. John and I then got to try it. Delicious!    

Sandra Scott can be reached by email care of ITN.