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What is the National Dish of Jamaica?

by Joyce
(Somewhere in the Universe.)

Jamaican Ackee and Salfish

Jamaican Ackee and Salfish

So is ackee and saltfish really the national dish of Jamaica? I was a bit puzzled why Joyce would have asked this question, but then I figured where the confusion might have started from.

The answer is a resounding YES though, but I've delved into the matter a bit more for clarification, for her as well as you.

Here's her question...

Hello Wellesley: I would like to know what is the National Dish of Jamaica. I have always heard that it is Ackee and Salt Fish served with Rice and Peas.

Although a lot of Jamaicans always say the National Dish is just Ackee and Salt Fish. Which never make any sense to me, because the National Dish has to be a complete meal.

I have heard that the Jamaican High Commissioner in Ottawa, Canada, (Mrs. Janice Miller) is telling people that Jamaica does not have a National Dish.

Could you please clear this up for me?

Thank you very much.


ANSWER: by Wellesley

Hi Joyce,
Interesting question, thanks for asking!

The national dish of Jamaica is indeed ackee and saltfish.

Yes, it is not one of the six (6) designated national symbols of Jamaica but, according to the National Library of Jamaica, a response I got in writing, it is indeed the official national dish of Jamaica.

I also quizzed a notable historian here and she confirmed same. She also indicated that it is also gazetted in Jamaica as the national dish.

And yes, it is not ackee and saltfish with rice and peas, it is just ackee and saltfish.

And yes again, it (ackee and saltfish) is a complete meal - but we always exercise the option to add other 'sides' as we see fit. Roasted breadfruit is my favourite with it.

The nutritionists will also confirm that the ackee and saltfish provide all the basic nutrients for a complete meal.

I hope this helps.

I must tell you

  1. Neither ackee nor saltfish is native to Jamaica nor the Caribbean.
  2. Ackee was actually brought to Jamaica purportedly on a slave ship from West Africa.
  3. It was later brought from Jamaica to Britain by Captain William Blythe, the same gentleman who brought breadfruit to Jamaica.
  4. The word 'Ackee' was derived from the original name 'Ankye', from the Twi language of Ghana.

By the way, if you have not already done, please be sure to read more about ackee in Jamaica here as well as get some of my free Jamaican recipes here.

Thanks again for asking. As usual, I welcome your comments.


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