Preparation: Marinated meat barbequed
Serving suggestion: Great alone or with rice, dumplings or just plain bread
Taste: Hot, spicy and deliciously more-ish
The Caribbean island of Jamaica is renowned for sunshine, reggae, and the remarkably laid back atmosphere. But Jamaica’s most famous cooking technique is undoubtedly Jerk: the process of spicing and grilling pork, chicken or fish. Jerk meats and spicy sauce are sold at roadside stalls throughout Jamaica.
Origins and History
Because of Jamaica’s colonial past, many of the island’s typical dishes are derived from the traditions of settlement cultures. The British, Dutch, Spanish, French, West Africans, Portuguese, Chinese and East Indians have all exerted their influence on Jamaican palates. The origins of Jerk can be traced back to the Cormantee people of West Africa, many of whom were enslaved and brought to Jamaica in the 17th century. Those who escaped from the British during the 1655 invasion spent years hiding out in the Blue Mountains, where they practiced and perfected the cooking method of their forefathers.
Jerk sauce is a made from a blend of hot spices, including pepper, pimento, allspice, nutmeg, cinnamon, garlic and onion. Jerk chefs often add a secret ingredient to make their sauce really special. The sauce is rubbed over the raw meat, then left to marinade. Finally, the meat is grilled slowly over a low fire and the mouth-watering aromas it gives off are sure to attract a hungry crowd.
Once cooked, jerk meat is chopped into bite-size pieces and served with bread.
Jamaica Travel – Food
Introduction to the food of Jamaica, from the site of the official tourist board of Jamaica.
Take a photographic tour of Jamaica, from Kingston to Montego Bay
Food of Jamaica: Authentic Recipes from the Jewel of the Caribbean, John Demers & Norma Benghiat
By Jess Halliday
main image: Caribbean-style Smoked Jerk Chicken | Photo credit: freecandy13, Flickr, Creative Commons