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by Sheree-Anita Shearer | Associate Writer
Is Jamaican food Caribbean? This a straightforward question with an even simpler answer. Yes, it is. Jamaica is a Caribbean country and shares quite a lot with the other islands when it relates to cuisine and culture, especially those that were colonised by the Spanish and primarily by the English just as we were years ago. While most islands have their unique dishes that you should absolutely try. There are similar dishes on the islands as well.
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While Jamaica is known for its curried goat, another meat is commonly curried across the islands. We may have our tiffs on whether it is Curry Chicken or Chicken Curry, but what we can all agree on is that the flavours are immaculate.
In Jamaica, our curry goes well with white rice or boiled ground provisions, but it is customary for a lunch order to be rice and peas, fried chicken and curry gravy.
This is an area where the cooks in the Caribbean excel at. We use meat of any kind (or none at all), vegetables, a healthy infusion of herbs and spices, and ground provisions of various kinds depending on the island you're in. Generally, you may see yams, dasheen, potatoes, plantains, and bananas.
In Jamaica, you will definitely see dumplings. Specifically the kind we call spinners which tend to be smaller than usual and are sometimes made long instead of round.
As a rule, you will see a scotch bonnet pepper and grains of pimento bobbing along in the pot as the soup boils.
No matter the island, plantains will be available. In addition to peeling, slicing and frying the ripe fruit to golden perfection, taking the extra step of doubling frying and pressing the green ones or grating the green ones to make porridge each island has many other ways to include plantains in their cuisine. I can confirm that they are all delicious.
This goes by different names in the Caribbean. In the Eastern Caribbean, it's called Cornmeal Cou Cou. Refined cornmeal, is boiled with coconut milk, herbs and spices. Saltfish, mixed vegetables or other additions are often made.
The texture and consistency differ in how each island makes Turn Cornmeal.
Inspired by the English black cake, the Rum cake in the Caribbean is denser and, doused with rum. This is usually available around Christmas time, but preparation for this masterpiece usually begins 6 months to a year before. The fruits are soaked in rum for additional flavour. In Jamaica, we sometimes add sorrel as it is the official flavour of Christmas for us here.
Whether or not it is Christmas season you should definitely try this! Pastry chef, Kayon shared her recipe with us.
Now there are two dishes called Callaloo in the Caribbean. I’ll tell you about them both. In Jamaica, callaloo is a plant similar to collard greens, which is steamed or stir-fried with scotch bonnet peppers, onions, scallions and thyme. Sometimes other vegetables are added to it such as carrots or cabbage.
Sometimes we add saltfish for a little protein and flavour. We often have this at breakfast, with bread, fried dumplings or boiled dumplings and ground provisions. It is sometimes added as a side at lunch, to rice or stuffed fish.
The other callaloo dish is made from dasheen leaves; dasheen is a common tuber in the Caribbean. To this, okra, onions and other herbs and seasonings are added. Instead of serving it after steaming, the leaves are then blended. Pigtail or saltfish is then added to it while it is reheated.
We all love tamarind here in the Caribbean and will sometimes use it to make juices, or add it to sauces and gravies. But many of us prefer to have it as tamarind balls. The seeds are removed from the frighteningly sour fruit, sugar (and of course white rum) is added then it is rolled into tiny balls. I may be oversimplifying the process, but the detailed recipe can be found here.
Baked macaroni and cheese is usually creamy and savoury, but the traditional Caribbean macaroni pie has a different texture. Instead of adding your macaroni to a creamy cheesy sauce, the shredded cheese is mixed into a cold egg and milk mixture which will melt down during the process.
The flavour can be whatever you wish, from savoury to sweet depending on your family's preferences.
Even if the methods of preparing the dishes differ across the islands, the herbs and spices are often the same.
In Caribbean cuisine common flavours are:
There may be some variations, but as a Caribbean country, Jamaica does authentically reflect the taste of the Caribbean in its cuisine.
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Is Jamaican Food Caribbean | Written: November 14, 2022
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