11 Popular Jamaican Breakfast Items
by Sheree-Anita Shearer | Associate Writer
Photo: Jamaica's National Dish - Ackee and Saltfish
Breakfast time looks a little different in Jamaica. While we do enjoy sausages, pancakes, bacon and eggs, sometimes it just doesn’t suffice and we need something a little closer to home. Many restaurants open early enough to sell breakfast for those who need to get breakfast on the go.
- Ackee and Saltfish - We are starting off strong! Not only is this our National Dish but it is a crowd favourite for breakfast. Ackee and saltfish can be a little difficult to make if you are in a rush to get out of the house in the morning, so many persons start the process from the night before by boiling their ackee and placing it in the fridge and putting the saltfish to soak; this reduces the salt content. If you can’t find the time in the mornings to prepare it yourself, don’t worry. Restaurants know that. They know that ackee and saltfish on the menu means sales will be through the roof.
- Soup - Now this one was a little surprising to me when I started working. For me, soup was always for lunch or dinner, but I stand corrected! Many Jamaicans grab a nice cup of pumpkin, red peas (kidney beans), chicken, turkey neck or beef soup in the mornings with all the workings. Cowskin, cow foot, chicken foot, yam, dasheen, coco and of course no soup is complete without spinnas (small dumplings). In most cases, it’s soupie at the front of your office building who will serve up a hot cup of soup for you before you start a day of work.
- Porridge - Now while we do enjoy a little oatmeal in the morning when I say porridge that’s not exactly what I mean. In Jamaica, we love cornmeal, plantain, banana and my favourite hominy corn. If it isn’t homemade(which it usually is) many restaurants will have porridge on the menu in the mornings and if you don’t have the time to go into a restaurant, rest assured that soupie will have a pot of porridge somewhere too.
- Cabbage/Callaloo and Saltfish - You will see saltfish repeated quite a bit for breakfast here, especially with vegetables. While we typically have a balanced diet and it is usually no trouble to get us to eat vegetables, it is usually not being served by itself. It is not uncommon to see cabbage or callaloo and saltfish being served on a breakfast menu.
- Liver or Kidney - It is more common to see chicken liver and kidneys but pig's liver is loved by many just the same. For someone outside of Jamaica it might be a little overwhelming but when you get past the initial shock, believe me, you are in for a treat.
- Salt Mackerel - Salt Mackerel is used similarly to saltfish, with ackee or vegetables. However, it is just as good on its own. Just fix it with fresh seasonings such as your onions, sweet peppers, tomatoes and the like. Then you’ve got yourself a hearty and tasty breakfast.
- Stew Chicken - It might be a little weird to see chicken as a breakfast item but brown stew chicken is mainly had for breakfast in Jamaica. You really won’t see this on the lunch/dinner menu of most restaurants.
- Curry Chicken - Jamaicans will use any excuse to have something curried so it shouldn’t come as a surprise to see curry chicken for breakfast. It is actually very popular here and restaurants know to prepare a large pot because it will be gone as soon as it is written on the menu board.
- Saltfish or Franks and Beans - This is a filling and tasty breakfast which is quite easily prepared. Although it was usually prepared at home it has become a quite popular breakfast item at restaurants as well.
- Leftovers - Food from dinner isn't saved for dinner the next day as you might have thought, it is had in the morning for breakfast. It really doesn’t matter what dinner was the night before.
- Tea - Tea is a must-have in Jamaica, there is no two ways about it. Now, it would take forever to list all the different teas we have but I will name the favourites, Mint, Coffee, Chocolate or Ginger. According to Jamaican parents and grandparents everywhere, if you refuse to have something warm in the morning you will feel bad (become nauseous) during the day. But if you are someone who loves to go against the grain and not drink tea then a little orange juice will suffice.
So I’ve been listing a lot of items but you must be wondering if we just have these dishes by themselves. No, we don’t. We pair these with multiple things; fried plantains, festivals, fritters, breadfruit, fried or boiled dumplings, yams, sweet potatoes or even hard dough bread.
We love to hear about your appreciation for Jamaican Food. So send us a comment if or when you have tried any of these breakfast suggestions. Yum yum.
I also recommend you read, Foods Eaten In Jamaica The Favorites & The Traditional
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