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This article was written on 03 Mar 2011, and is filled under To: Jamaica.

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Great Cuisine of Jamaica

Jamaican Cuisine

When most people picture Jamaican cuisine, images of jerked chicken inveritably pop into their heads. Although the island is famous for its jerk spices, the idea that their culinary landscape ends there is selling Jamaican cuisine short. You wouldn’t think that Japanese food is just sushi, or that Italian is just pasta? Jamaican dishes have a long and storied history, mixing cooking techniques, spices, and flavors from a dozen different sources and ethnicities. You’ll find the influence of the indigenous peoples of the island, as well as the Europeans, Africans, Indians, and Chinese workers who eventually settled on the island.

You will find that Jamaican cuisine is an innovative and unique fusion of these different cultures and there palettes, leaving you with a unique flavor that can’t be found elsewhere in the world. Most dishes are modifications of dishes introduced from elsewhere, with locally grown crops substituted for missing ingredients. Over time, a wide variety of novel dishes have been developed utilizing local ingredients and styles as well.

Most famous of Jamaican dishes is the popular “jerked” technique, which involves dry rubbing meats with a hot spicy mixture known as “Jamaican jerk spice”, and then grilling the meat in a variety of ways. The traditional method is to smoke over aromatic wood charcoal, although many settle to simply grill over hardward charcoal in jerk pans (large steel drums for grilling). If you’re in Kingston, be sure to drop by the Chelsea Jerk Center for a real introduction to authentic Jamaican jerk dining.

Another popular dish that’s made its way into North American stores (and hearts) is the famous meat patty. This delicious little patty typically consists of a flakey outer crust, akin to a very nice pie crust, and a spicey meaty interior. They’re great for a quick meal, especially for travellers who are looking to keep going. I would avoid the frozen supermarket versions, as they are a pale comparison to the original in much the same way that a frozen pizza is nothing like a fresh pizza from a wood oven.

The national dish of Jamaica is Ackee and saltfish, which has its roots in African cuisine. The ackee fruit having been introduced to Jamaica by way of West Africa aboard slave ships. The dish consists of sateed cod with boiled ackee fruit, onions, peppers, tomatos, and spices. It is often served with salad, rice, fruit, or boiled green bananas. The dish has quickly spread to other countries, and is now enjoyed in the UK, Canada, and the United states.

Asian and Indian influences have also spawned a myriad of recipes, including curried goat, steamed cabbage, and a wide assortment of rice and beans dishes. Jamaican cuisine is rich and colorful tapestry of flavors and cooking techniques, incorporating cuisines from around the world. Their mixture of fresh meats, vegetables, and spices are sure to please even the most discerning of palettes.

Visit All Inclusive Caribbean Vacations for more fun tips about Jamaica and the Caribbean.

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