Coffee Jamaican food (part 1)

Coffee Jamaican food (part 1)

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Jamaican food (part 1)

Hello again,

Today I thought I would try and give you some insight, into Jamaican food.

Before being able to understand the cuisine, one has to look at all the influences which contribute towards it.

Jamaica is only a small Island, but has one of the most perfect climates ( hurricanes apart! ) in the world, and has attracted people from all over the world; each group bringing with them, their own recipes and styles of cooking. Over the years these different styles of cuisine, have melded together, and whilst retaining their own distinct recipes, have also produced some distinctly Jamaican recipes.

The most obvious origins are from the old days of slavery, the African and European ( English, and to a lesser extent, Spanish ) cuisines: and over time there was an influx of other ethnic cooking styles: from China, India, the Middle East ( notably Jewish and Syrian ) and more recently, Italy, Japan, and America ( in the form of franchise fast food chains ).

I have poked around several bookshops in Kingston, and have been grossly disappointed with all the Jamaican cookery books, that I have found, so far. Almost nothing in the way of traditional Jamaican recipes, the food that the "locals" eat: mostly the recipes from the top class hotels and restaurants, which are just standard European recipes, with a few local additions: none of the local farmers, around here, would be able to afford the ingredients, much less have the time, or the culinary skills, to be able to cook most of them!!

5Bob Marley

I really enjoy hot dishes ( Indian curries, Mexican "Chilli" dishes, etc ) BUT, when I arrived in Jamaica, it opened up a whole new, much higher, level of "oral Masochism": based on what was available in England, before I moved: anything in the way of a "hot sauce" you have ever experienced, is just "mild"!!

Not long after I arrived in Jamaica, tried some of the local hot sauces: WOW!!!!!! Thought I could improve on the "overall" flavour, not just the heat: so off I go, buy a bag of the local "Scotch Bonnet" peppers; chop them up, and make a REALLY HOT sauce!!! SO hot I was almost unable to eat it!!!

The worst problem was that I did not use rubber gloves to chop them up: my hands were burning, for over 36 hours afterwards, and absolutely nothing in the way of hand washing, or lotions, made any difference!!! Now just imagine the effects on the tongue, and taste buds!!! and we will not mention, the after effects!! other than say how glad I was that I had left a roll of toilet paper, in the freezer, for such emergencies!!

The Jamaican cuisine, is very different to anything else I have ever come across: MacDonald's, pulled out of the Island some years ago ( Yes, even a Jamaican "Big Mac", tastes just as revolting as an English, Motorway, one! ) and there are few "franchise Burger joints" around here, KFC, and chicken "joints", proliferate!! Go to a shopping Mall, in Kingston, and in the "feeding" area: several local, Jamaican "chains", as well as some individual serveries: the food is excellent, but not a "burger" on any menu!! Even the departure lounge at Kingston airport has no "burger joints", just a range of excellent ( by airport standards! ) local fast food chains.

There are a couple of Pizza chains, with shops in Kingston, but none of the other restaurant "chains" that I see advertised on American TV ( for example: Olive garden ) a couple of "Subways" ( most disappointing, and very expensive!! ). Ethnic restaurants can be found, Greek ( again, very disappointing, when you have eaten in "real" Greek restaurants ) Indian, Chinese, Japanese, but the vast majority of "eating houses", serve the Jamaican cuisine: from the most basic roadside "joint" to some very expensive restaurants. The modern "classier" Jamaican cuisine is a fusion of classical European dishes, but made with local ingredients: usually quite spicy, and on occasion, some very strange ( to a European palate ) mixtures of flavours; fried bananas ( both green and ripe ) often substituting for the potatoes, in a meal.

The majority of the "meats" on offer, are chicken, fish, and the minced beef content of the "Patties" ( very!! tasty!! ) Then there is the famous, "Jerk" Pork, it is almost a "national dish"!! Jerk: a very tasty, but not very hot, mixture of local spices, including Pimento; the meat ( pork, chicken, or, occasionally, fish ) marinated in the spices, and slow, very slow; cooked over a smokey fire/barbeque, with Pimento wood: done right, and the flavour is nothing short of "exquisite"!! AND it is served by the "plate-full" none of this modern "snack" sized servings!! Served at many a road side, open air, "cook shop" ( an oil-drum, barbeque, a bit like a city "hot dog" stand: but without any of the food health and safety regulations! ).

You have to use your imagination: down on the beach, perfect, white, coral, sand, under the tropical sun; relaxing in a deck chair, under the shade of a few coconut palms; the warmth of the Caribbean sea gently lapping around your feet; sipping an ice cold Red Stripe: and your feed order arrives: slow cooked, over the smokey barbie, the jerked pork, served with "festival" ( partially leavened bread, rolled into sticks ( about 1 inch diameter, 6 inches long ) and deep fried in coconut oil ) and a salad composed with the freshest of local veges, and fruits. A few "choice" words in the local speek ( Patois ) and a good, 30% off the "tourist" price!!!

9Imagine the combination: perfect feed, ice cold beer ( Red Stripe!! ) warm sea water, lapping around the feet, in the gentle, tropical, breeze: I KNOW what it is like!! and part of the reason, I retired to this "tropical paradise"!!!

If you are not a beer drinker, try a jelly-coconut ( a whole, semi-ripe coconut: with the outside husk, still on: kept in a freezer for several hours; taken from the freezer, and with a single, expert, swipe with a very sharp machete, the top is cut off, and you drink the cold coconut milk, directly from the shell ). Nowhere near as tasty, or refreshing, is bottled coconut "water", which is made by squeezing the liquid from the flesh of the coconut, watering it down, and selling it in bottles: the oil from the coconut flesh, is the best cooking oil I have ever found: Virgin coconut oil ( pressed from the fresh coconut flesh ) is superb! and has a distinct coconut flavour: the ordinary coconut oil, is extracted by boiling the flesh of the fruit, and has almost no taste.

Coconut oil is on a par with olive oil, in being "healthy"; the oil itself is so "light", that very little of it is capable of being metabolised by the body, it sets solid at 74F, a much higher temperature than olive oil.

The recent history of coconut oil, is one of those sad tales: it used to be one of the most popular cooking oils in the world, until it was discovered that other vegetable oils ( soya bean, corn, etc. ) could be grown in more northerly latitudes, and coconut oil was virtually destroyed, by massive advertising campaigns, if you ever find any in the shops, try it!!! you will not be disappointed, especially if you can find some Virgin, coconut oil.

To be continued...

Robin Plough, friend of

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A New Year on the Plantation
A Visit to Paradise
A year in the life..What makes JBM, the 'legend' of coffee?
Assessing your coffee (part 1)
Assessing your coffee (part 2)
Assessing your coffee (part 3)
Economics of JBM. Part 1
Economics of JBM. Part 2
Everything you wanted to know about the Coffee Board
Growing a coffee plant at home
Growing Coffee. Part 1
Growing Coffee. Part 2
Growing Coffee. Part 3
Growing Coffee. Part 4
Growing Coffee. Part 5
Growing: Part 1
Growing: Part 2
Jamaican food (part 2)
Jamaican food (part 3)
Jamaican newsletter
Living in Paradise: Part I
Living in Paradise: Part II
Living in Paradise: Part III
Processing our coffee (part 1)
Processing our coffee (part 2)
Random thoughts on the end of the world
Random thoughts on the end of the world (II)
Special Report: Coffee Leaf Rust Fungus Part 1
Special Report: Coffee Leaf Rust Fungus Part 2
SPECIAL: Coffee borer beetle in Hawaii
Trivia and other ramblings: part 1
Trivia and other ramblings: part 2
Tropical Storm Nichole
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