Senators Seek Official Meal Designation

Senator Angel Bolques Jr. wants to know what the official dish and dessert of the Virgin Islands should be.

At the Committee on Culture, Youth, Aging, Sports, and Parks Friday his bill to require the Department of Tourism to conduct a territory-wide survey of the residents to determine an official dish and dessert of the Virgin Islands was introduced.

Assistant Commissioner Alani Henneman testified that the Department of Tourism was up to the task of developing and administering a survey. She said it could be completed in 180 days and have no major additional cost to the department. She said the survey would be two-pronged with residents first identifying popular dishes and then a vote taken on the top ten.

Sen. Franklin Johnson said choosing a national dish would be difficult because the Territory is composed of “three major islands and each cooks differently.”

Sen. Alma Francis Heyliger questioned whether the bill was necessary. She indicated that she thought a simple request to the Department might have sufficed instead of passing a law.

Johnson and Heyliger voted no on moving the bill favorably to the Rules Committee. However, it passed with Sens. Bolques, Samuel Carrión, and Milton Potter voting positive.

Bolques said in a statement released after the hearing, “This is the next spoke in the wheel of solidarity. Though seemingly minor, a national dish and dessert, like a national anthem, flag, bird, fabric, etc., is something unique to us that we can take pride in, something that unites us as Virgin Islanders, and something that can continue to drive our tourism industry.”  He added, “I thank my colleagues for supporting this measure and look forward to its consideration in Rules.”

Henneman testified, “Food in its purest essence is one of the cornerstones of our rich Virgin Islands culture. It is an amalgamation of the diverse cultures that have sowed into the fabric that defines the territory and sets us uniquely apart from the rest of the Caribbean. Establishing a national dish and dessert will only stand to elevate our already thriving culinary and agriculture tourism, including our carnival food fairs, the Taste of St. Croix, Mango Melee, Agrifest, King of the Wing Competition, and others. Once selected, these dishes will serve as the center of our marketing campaigns, providing a centralized culinary point for visitors to have an authentic USVI experience.”