The food in Jamaica!
Experiencing the food in Jamaica is a big part of a vacation to Jamaica. Traditional dishes date back to the era of slavery. The larger resorts and hotels will serve American-style and international cuisine while offering a choice of traditional dishes made with
foods eaten in Jamaica.
Jamaican dishes will always include a generous serving of starch, an important part of the Jamaican diet. Most commonly used starches include rice & peas, yam, dumpling, boiled green bananas, fried plantain and breadfruit. You'll also find bammy (made from cassava), festival (sweetened fried dough) and bulla (a heavy biscuit made with four and molasses).
You'll be served a smaller portion of meat or fish. Meat choices are most often chicken and pork, but you can also find goat and oxtail. The fish is usually red snapper or parrot fish that is steamed, fried or escoveitched. Seafood is plentiful in Jamaica, but fish, shrimp and lobster are the most expensive items on the menu.
Lobsters in Jamaica are actually marine crayfish known as the spiny lobster. They are different for lobster caught in the northern waters, but taste every bit as good and maybe even better.
Vegetarians will prefer the meatless food at Rastafarian restaurants. These are generally smaller eateries serving strict vegetarian fare with a salt-free "Ital" way of cooking. Look for signs or shops painted with the traditional Rasta colors of red, green and gold or ask locals for the best Ital food.
The most well-known way to prepare food in Jamaica is to "Jerk" it. Every cook will have his own secret recipe, but Jamaican Jerk seasoning will almost always include pimento, cloves, ginger, garlic, onion, cinnamon, thyme and peppers (including the infamous "hot" scotch bonnet pepper). The meat can be pork, chicken, goat or fish. This combination of well-spiced and marinaded meat cooked over a fire, made with pimento wood, yields food with a wonderful smokey flavor. Rice and peas (beans), breadfruit and festival are most commonly served with Jamaican Jerk.
When visiting local restaurants or staying a smaller hotels be on the look out for traditional Jamaican dishes.
A popular choice for breakfast is ackee (a fruit, that when cooked, resembles scrambled eggs), served with salt fish (a staple that helped sustain the slave trade). Side choices include boiled bananas, fritters and locally grown fresh fruits.
For lunch try to find a source of Jamaican patties. These are flaky pastries stuffed with spicy beef or chicken. It's harder to find veggie patties, but ask around. They are usually made with a spicy mixture of onion, carrot and calaloo (a spinach-like green). They are truly fabulous!
Jamaica is an exciting vacation destination. Trying the wide variety of traditional Jamaican dishes will make your trip even more memorable!
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