When thinking of Jamaica, you probably think of swimming in gorgeous tropical beaches, rocking to groovy reggae music and sampling spicy jerk dishes. Check out these six essential food experiences to get a better understanding of Jamaican cuisine.[rpi]
Inspired by cooking techniques from Africa with local ingredients, the term Jerk refers to how the meat or main vegetable is prepared: marinated in a complex sauce of chilies and spices and then slow-cooked over low heat, oftentimes on an open flame or charcoal grill. You can get jerk chicken, pork and fish from many local restaurants. Make sure to order it with sweet dumplings and if you love spicy food, add some extra Scotch bonnet pepper as the locals do.
SEAFOOD ON THE SOUTH COAST
If you are a seafood lover, the Caribbean in general and Jamaica, in particular, is a good place for you. Depending on your preference, you can choose your fish from the daily catch and tell the chef how you want it prepared such as fried, steamed, curried or jerked. There are also many typical Jamaican seafood dishes like ackee and saltfish. Make sure you check out several restaurants in Treasure Beach, one of Jamaica’s most beautiful coastal towns, which offer a vast array of seafood.
Known as one of the most famous rum-producing countries in the world, Jamaican rum is made with molasses that is fermented with wild yeast and then distilled in pot stills. This country was once a rum-producing behemoth with nearly 150 distilleries around 1900, there are now just four in operation, including Appleton Estate, Hampden Estate, Worthy Park Estate and National Rums of Jamaica. In Jamaica, plan to spend an entire day taking a rum tour to Appleton, the most famous distillery in the middle of the island which offers a tasting experience.
FRESH MARKET FRUIT
Jamaica is home to a wide range of tropical fruits that are packed with flavour. Here, you can try Otaheite apples, a sweet and tangy white-flesh fruit with a large centre pit, star apples, a tropical fruit that looks somewhat like a cross between a kumquat and an apple and takes like lychee and jackfruits. There are lots of markets in all 14 parishes and they are open every day except Sundays.
Rastafarianism is a Jamaican religion that emerged in the 1930s. With the goal of promoting health and longevity, its followers created a traditional Rastafarian diet that is completely devoid of meat. This diet includes fruits, vegetables, grains and beans that are prepared without salt or chemicals and cannabis is sometimes also added, which is considered a herb. If you want to expand your palate, then take a stop at Reggae Pot in Ocho Rios for an ital preparation of vegetables, grains and beans that are often cooked in coconut oil sourced on the island. Rasta Ade is another option where you can enjoy vegan food and its beautiful beachfront location in Negril.
BLUE MOUNTAIN COFFEE
Aside from rum, coffee also has a worldwide reputation as it is the second-largest agricultural export after sugar in Jamaica. The island’s coffee is widely grown in the Blue Mountains, which are between Kingston and Port Antonio and have an elevation of around 7,500 feet. Because of its beloved flavour and scarcity, Blue Mountain coffee is some of the most expensive in the world. No trip to Jamaica would be complete without visiting the coffee farms which are run by local companies. Make sure to book a tour with Island Outpost and you will have the chance to embark on a hike through various historic coffee estates around Jamaica.