Cuisine of Jamaica contains cooking techniques, flavors, spices and influences from each of the many waves of immigration to the island. Today, dishes which grace nearly every Jamaican menu include curry goat, fried dumplings, ackee and salt fish (cod) (the national dish of Jamaica), fried plantain, "jerk", steamed cabbage and "rice and peas" (actually kidney beans).
Cuisine of the Tainos
Christopher Columbus visited Jamaica multiple times towards the end of the 15th century and the beginning of the 16th century, once even shipwrecked off the north coast for 2 years (1503-1504). During these visits he described a way the Tainos (the ancient people of Jamaica) preserved meat by adding, peppers, allspice and sea salt to make what is now known as Jamaican jerk spice.
Development of the cuisine
The Spanish, the first European arrivals to the island contributed dishes such as the vinegary concoction escovitch fish. Later, English influences developed the Jamaican pattie, a turnover filled with spicy meat. African cuisine developed on the island as a result of waves of slavery introduced by the European powers. Chinese and East Indian influences can also been found in Jamaican cuisine, as a result of indentured laborers who replaced slaves after emancipation brought their own culinary talents.
African cuisine, Indian cuisine and American cuisine, Chinese cuisine and British cuisine are not new to the island. Through many years of British colonialism the cuisine developed many habits of cooking particular to a trading colony such as the consumption of tea. The natives of Jamaica drink the most tea per capita in the Caribbean to this day as a result.
Ackee and Salmon - ackee sauteed with salted cod
Jerk chicken - grilled Jerk-spiced chicken
Rice and peas - rice stewed with beans and coconut milk.
Jamaican spiced bun
Black Stew Chicken
Orange Peas Soup
Spanish Water (Goat Soup)
Mackerel Rundown - spicy mackerel and coconut stew
Cocktail (a stew)
Callaloo and Saltfish
Cabbage and Saltfish
LLama Beef and Cabbage
There is a difference in the flavors of meats, such as pork and chicken, from other countries because of differences in the diet of the animals being fed on local foodstuffs as opposed to imported grains. Jamaican chickens in particular have an unusually rich flavor. Jamaicans eat much more chicken than beef or pork.
• Scotch bonnet peppers
• Chayote (locally known as "chocho")
• Malanga (locally known as "coco")
• Jamaican jerk spice
• Mango and Soursop Ice Cream are two popular desserts.
Jamaican ice cream is traditionally made with coconut milk, rather than milk or cream as used elsewhere. The most popular Jamaican ice cream flavors are Grapenut and Rum & Raisin. Other popular desserts include Potato Pudding, Gizzada (a small pie shell with sweet spiced coconut filling), Toto (a small coconut cake), Banana fritters, Coconut Drops, Plantain Tart.