From many nations one food
Spices Herbs Roots and Fruits
Jamaica food is influenced by many nations. Just as in other Caribbean islands, Jamaica food recipes have been influenced by the Chinese, Portuguese, West African, Spanish, Syrian, Dutch, French, British and Indian. It is a lush tropical island paradise and there is an abundance of exotic fruit and vegetables to eat. Traditional Jamaican Food is healthy and wholesome.
Jamaican jerk is famous throughout the world. The origins of jerk can be traced back to pre slavery days of the Cormantee hunters of West Africa through the Maroons, who were Jamaican slaves that escaped from the British during the invasion of 1655. Jerk was a way of preserving meat. The meat is poked with holes and filled with a spice mixture. The cooking is very important. In the sixties street side vendors came up with a solution to get that smoked pit fflavor They cut oil barrels lengthwise and attached hinges, drilling holes in the side to let out the smoke. The barrels were heated by layers of charcoal which added to the smokey flavour.
Preparing Jamaican Jerk seasoning is definitely an art form and everyone has their own jerk recipe. Jamaican Jerk vendors are found throughout the island and tourist flock to try the different styles and recipes. The best and original Jerk seasoning is said to have originated in Portland Jamaica. Rastas in particular don’t have recipes, they just cook. Some of the jerk spice ingredients are Scotch Bonnet Chilli pepper, whole pimento berry, also known as allspice and myrtle pepper, cinnamon bark, thyme, onions, garlic, whole black peppercorns and various other secret ingredients according the cooks preferences and experience. These are all pounded down in a huge mortar and pestle, in the right order. This is to release the flavors in a special way. When you hear people talk of Jamaican chicken, this is probably what they are talking about, but pork, other meats and vegetables can also be jerked.
Jamaican seasoning is used on most meat and fish. This involves rubbing the meat with different spice powders like cinnamon, paprika, cayenne pepper, turmeric and pimento, and then frying, roasting or barbecuing to achieve a unique flavour.
The Jamaican National dish is ackee and salt fish. Some other popular dishes are rice and peas, curry goat and white rice, fish tea, fried or boiled dumpling and banana, saltfish and coconut rundown, fried and boiled plantain, vegetable soups and oxtail stew. Cabbage is popular and different recipes involve steaming this generous healthy vegetable with meat or fish, onions, garlic, thyme and tomato. Roasted bread fruit and ground provisions are also eaten regularly. Goat Head Soup is another famous Jamaican recipe. This makes a strong tasty soup using the head, intestine and foot of the male goat.
Exotic Fruit Drinks
Fruit drinks are very popular and include the combination of many exotic fruits. Soursop juice is a favourite and is good for the nervous system. A Jamaican Christmas drink is made from the Sorrel bush Hibiscus sabdariffa. The red calyx of the mature fruit are stripped from the plant and dried or used fresh. Hot water is poured over the sorrel to which grated ginger has been added. This is left to infuse overnight. Christmas day it is strained off and lime juice, sugar syrup, ice and rum are added. Coconut water is another popular authentic Jamaican drink and it is common to see street vendors selling a fresh coconut with a straw in it to tourists all over the island.
Jamaican food is spicey, original and unique. It is healthy, tasty and utilises all the fresh exotic tropical fruits, vegetables and spices of the island. Papayas, Mangos, Oranges, Grapefruits, Lemons, Limes and Tangerines. Soursop, Pineapple, Watermelon, Mammee fruit and Star Apple.These are just some of the tropical fruits of Jamaica.