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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.
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.
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!
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.
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?
But Ackee and Saltfish is just one of the favourites in the Jamaican cuisine today, some of the other popular here include...
And bear in mind too that the Jamaican cuisine also drinks, desserts, and pastry! Some of the popular items here include...
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 :-)
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.
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!
I recently published the video on what I called MUST HAVE foods in Jamaica. Enjoy! (And Share)