Jamaica is as much a place for soothing reggae music as it is for flavourful gastronomical delights. From sweet to savoury and baked to boiled, there are a vast number of Jamaican treats to keep your mouth and stomach satisfied right throughout your trip to the island.
It is certainly not possible to go through all, but here are a few that you should definitely try when next you visit the island.
Ackee and Saltfish
Jamaica’s national dish and probably one of the most unusual recipe combinations you will find, Ackee and Saltfish should be on your list of must-try foods. In fact, it was ranked number two on the list of best national dishes by National Geographic not too long ago. It is served year-round but is more abundant at certain times when the ackee fruit is in season and is usually cooked with plenty seasonings, including scotch bonnet pepper and tomatoes. The saltfish is really cod that has been cured with salt and complements the creamy, buttery taste of the ackee. The dish is often served with white rice but can also be had with fried dumplings for breakfast, as well as bread or boiled green bananas.
Jerk Chicken or Pork
Originating from a style of meat preservation, jerked chicken and pork are huge food favourites for locals and visitors alike. It involves a slow process of grilling the proteins, often over wood fire, after they have been marinated in jerk sauce and spices. The end result is a spicy, smoky delight that can be enjoyed with bread, festival and other sides. You will find numerous jerk stops across the island, as well as jerk festivals that feature more than just chicken and pork.
If you like seafood and spice, this local delicacy could well be a treat you enjoy. It is often sold by roadside vendors in little plastic bags but is just as tasty as anything you will find in restaurants. Expect to be overwhelmed with loads of pepper as the shrimp is usually prepared with real scotch bonnet peppers, which are known for their heat. Fortunately, there are many forms of cold refreshments to wash it down with, including Red Stripe Beer and various tropical juices.
Dukunu (Blue Drawers)
This is a semi-hard dessert, similar to bread pudding, but with more flavour and spice. It usually includes coconut, sweet potato and cornmeal, but depending on who makes it for you, could also contain cassava or flour. The term ‘blue drawers’ is used to describe the bluish color that the treat gets due to being wrapped in banana leaves during the cooking process. All the flavours of the spices used to make dukunu are bound to flood your taste buds once you take a bite and will leave you wanting more, although you might not be able to go more than a slice because it is quite filling.
There are very few foods that are sold as often as patties in Jamaica, and for good reason. This meat-filled pie (although there are vegetable variations) is sold by a number of fast food outlets, with the top three being Tastee, Juici, and Mother’s. You can have patties filled with beef, chicken, shrimp, and even pork. You can also choose to have your patties with coco bread or by themselves, as well as with a variety of drinks and refreshments.
As you can see, there is no shortage of culinary delights to enjoy once you’re in Jamaica, and we’re just getting started. Try these and others to ensure your stay is a tasty experience as well as adventurous.
Check out our Premium “Jamaican Tasting” Tour and experience these Jamaican treats.