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Jamaican Cuisine
An Exciting Potpourri Of Migrant Cultures

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jamaican cuisine  - family eating at little ochie restaurantFamily Eating Out At Little Ochi' Restaurant (Jamaican Cuisine)

Simpson, in her book Why Heritage, boasts that Jamaica's cuisine has ’gone abroad!’

And she is right!

Our food and culinary delights are not just whetting the appetites of persons outside of Jamaica and the diaspora, but in many cases, a favorite of many of them. 

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And so, many visitors to Jamaica, before they leave, ensure that they get a taste of our famous jerk pork, chicken and fish, the detectable curried goat, as well as samples the world famous Blue Mountain Coffee, Jamaican rum, in addition to wide array of succulent Jamaican fruits

The Development of A Jamaican Cuisine

tourists eating Jamaican cuisine on the roadJamaican Tourists Enjoying Jamaican Food

Truth be told, Jamaican cuisine is really a potpourri (blend) of all the various cultures that came to the island.

If you were exposed to, or have any background  to,  the history of Jamaica, you’ll remember that the Spanish came looking for gold, and they met up on the tainos; who were already here,  the English came, looking to expand their empire and their economic base, Africans, most of them, were brought here as slave workers, and the Indians and the Chinese,  also came as workers, although they were paid workers called indentured laborers. 

Other European and Middle Eastern immigrants also came here, but mainly for economic reasons. 

All this led to a exciting fusion of the culinary delights and cooking styles comprising all these rich cultures, which creates some of the most delectable foods and meals in the world!

Contribution Of Each Ethnic Group To The Jamaican Cuisine

fresh jamaican fruits

So what did each ethic group contribute to Jamaica's cuisine?  

I've put together a comprehensive list of foods (dishes, plant, animal, spices etc) that were contributed by each of the main ethnic groups in Jamaica. I suggest that you click here to review that list.

But just so you know, the earliest recorded inhabitants, the tainos, contributed the products and methods relating to cassava, callaloo, pineapples, sweet potatoes, guavas, and fish.

The now popular jerk pork also has its origins in the taino culture which included spit roasting of their meats and fish. This was later refined by the Buccaneers.

Here again is the list to see the contribution of the others.

By the way, did you know that Jamaica's national dish ( Ackee & Saltfish ) was ranked by National Geographic Magazine as the 2nd best national dish in the world?!

Jamaican Ackee and Saltfish DishJamaican Ackee and Saltfish Dish

Ackee was brought to Jamaica from Africa by a British during the slave trad, and salt fish was one of the staples of the slaves at the time - interesting how good can come out of a 'bad' situation right? 

Oh yes!

But Ackee and Saltfish is just one of the favourites in the Jamaican cuisine today, some of the other popular here include...

Jamaican Steamed FishJamaican Steamed Fish

And bear in mind too that the Jamaican cuisine also  drinks,  desserts, and pastry! Some of the popular items here include...

jamaican patty and cocobreadJamaican patty and coco bread
Jamaican Christmas cakeJamaican Christmas Cake

At Your Convenience!

If you are a visitor to Jamaica, rest assured that there is no shortage of places to get authentic Jamaican food on island, it can be had from any of the hundreds of restaurants, both in and outside the key tourist areas.

By the way, in addition to authentic Jamaican 'blends', you can also find numerous restaurants serving other indigenous foods. These include Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Indian and French cuisines.

Roadside stalls specializing in foods such as roast yam and salt-fish,  peppered  shrimp, jerked pork, jerk fish and jerk chicken - as well as fried fish and bammy and curried goat ,can be found across the country, especially on or adjacent to busy thoroughfares.

If you are overseas, especially in USA, UK and Canada, thanks to a patriotic diaspora, there are usually convenient Jamaican restaurants in the city areas of your state or parish as well; just be sure its really 'Jamaican' though :-)

The Heritage Continues...

Grace Jamaican jerk festival

As Jamaicans we also enjoy and showcase our culinary flair at the many annual heritage and food festivals such as the Jerk Festival, Yam Festival,  Curry Festivals, Breadfruit Festival, Crab Festivals  and Shrimp Festival, as well the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission’s  Annual, Jamaica Festival.

So what foods do I recommend you try first when you get here? I answered that question in this response post: What are the popular foods to eat in Jamaica? You can also view the video here.

Pictures Of Jamaican Food?

jamaican escoveitched fish with bammyJamaican Escoveitched Fish With Bammy

I hope this new knowledge has somewhat wet your appetite, if not, please take a look at these mouth-watering pictures of Jamaican food. Enjoy!

Video: 27 Foods To Try In Jamaica

I recently published the video on what I called MUST HAVE foods in Jamaica. Enjoy! (And Share)

References To Jamaican Cuisine

  • Simpson, Joanne M., Why Heritage, A Guide To The Importance Of Our Jamaican Story
  • Senior, Olive, Encyclopedia of Jamaican Heritage

You might like these

Click Here to see the full list of our easy and exciting Jamaican recipes, completely free!

Other Pages Related To Jamaican Cuisine

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Return to HomePage from Jamaican Cuisine

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About The Author

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A patriotic Jamaican who adore its culture, Wellesley has been using this medium to share what he calls 'the uniqueness of Jamaica with the world' since April 2007.  

To date, he serves over 9,300 unique readers / viewers per day.

His efforts have earned this site featured positions in local publications, including the Jamaica Gleaner's Hospitality Jamaica, Carlong Publishers, as well as recognition from numerous prestigious international agencies and universities. Read more about him here.

He invites you to subscribe to this site to stay updated on all the latest and check out his unique Jamaican products on his Etsy store.  

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You are also invited to join his exclusive JAMHearts community where like-minded Jamaican enthusiasts discuss all things Jamaican. 

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