Have you ever had a tasty bit of Jamaican cuisine like barbeque chicken in your mouth, flesh melting off the bone and your brain just swimming in feel good hormones, mouth and fingers covered in BBQ sauce? What do you do? Well, you start with the thumb and work your way to the little finger and then repeat on the other hand, until not one stain of BBQ sauce is left.
Jamaican food can be so tantalizingly delicious; the succulence of some of our traditional dishes will just leave
you in a euphoric coma. Traditionally we do some of the best fish, chicken, pork, beef or mutton you will ever taste and there are various food festivals each year to prove just that. One of the most popular is the Portland Jerk Festival kept in Port Antonio, Portland July 8, 2012 at Boston Playing Field. Thousands of patrons turn up each year, to savor jerk chicken, jerk pork, jerk fish and anything else that can be jerked or cooked in a pan.
In recent times, more and more festivals have been held; for example the Westmoreland Curry Festival which has been going over a decade. Then there is also the Ocho Rios Seafood Festival, August 1, 2012 at Turtle River Park. Bath Food Festival kept in St. Thomas at the Bath Botanical Gardens on August 6, 2012. There is the Food Festival on October 28, 2012 in Kingston at the Cable & Wireless Golf Academy. Restaurant Week is another event that celebrates food on November 20, 2012. This is an all island event. With Jamaica 50 being celebrated in 2012, there will certainly be even more occasions for Jamaican ‘nyamings’ and the enjoyment of good, finger licking food.
Chicken meals are a staple menu item for Jamaicans. fry, bake and stew chicken is cooked any day of the week. It is popularly known that Jamaica’s KFC restaurants serve the best chicken in the world; and I dare say that is possible because of our culture and the influence on the KFC restaurant chains, here in Jamaica.
Street-side jerk stands or jerk centers are frequently found in Jamaica and the
nearby Cayman Islands, as well as throughout the Caribbean diaspora and beyond. Jerked meat, usually chicken or pork, can be purchased along with hard dough bread, deep fried cassava bammy (flatbread, usually with fish), Jamaican fried dumplings (known as Johnny or journey cakes), and festival, a variation of sweet flavored fried dumplings made with sugar and served as a side.
Some Jamaican cuisine dishes are variations on the cuisines and cooking styles brought to the island from elsewhere. These are often modified to incorporate local produce. Others are novel and have developed locally. Popular Jamaican dishes include curry goat, fried dumplings, ackee and salt fish (cod) (which is the national dish of Jamaica), fried plantain, “jerk”, steamed cabbage and “rice and peas” (pigeon peas or kidney beans). Jamaican Cuisine has been adapted by African, British, French, Spanish, Chinese influences. Jamaican patties and various pastries and breads are also popular as well as fruit beverages and Jamaican rum, (more on Jamaican food).
Jamaicans also prepare and enjoy many fish dishes. This may range from Jamaican Fry Fish, Jerk Fish, Steam Fish, Stew Fish and any other method they can creatively apply.
Because the island is surrounded by water, the variety available to Jamaicans is quite extensive. They also catch and farm fresh water fish. Jamaican fish meals are very popular, not only because they are tasty; but fish does not take as long as other meat kinds to prepare.
Pork is very popular in Jamaica. The Portland Jerk festival is one of the main places you can get jerk pork at its best, being prepared by many of Jamaica’s top jerk people. However, on any given day and in any city or town, you will be certain to see men and their pans on the busty streets; especially on the weekends. Pork is also stewed, or cooked down. At Christmas time, Jamaican Ham flies off the shelves and out of the freezers, because there can be no Christmas feast without a few slices of Christmas Ham.
Jamaica’s legacy truly deserves to be celebrated; so go out and enjoy all that is available for Jamaica Independence.
More Jamaican Cuisine
By: Denise N. Fyffe.
Copyright © 2016, Denise N. Fyffe, The Island Journal