Jamaica is a great place for food tourists, especially if you enjoy a bit of a kick. Jamaicans love to cook and are proud of their culinary traditions. You’ll find all kinds of tasty fare throughout Jamaica from roadside shacks to fancy beachside restaurants. The food is typically full of colorful flavor, and cooked with passion. Read our quick culinary guide to Jamaica to get you familiarized with the essentials:
Everyone’s heard of the famous jerk chicken, rice and peas. Well, this is where it came from! You’ll find this combination served in almost every restaurant, street food stall, and in every Jamaican home. Most of the jerk chicken in Jamaica is very spicy to an unaccustomed tongue, so it may be wise to prepare by pushing your boundaries with a little spice before you go!
Another mouthwatering popular dish is curried goat: a tender meat that’s perfect for curry dishes, usually served with some kind of vegetable and rice.
Most of the dishes with meat are served on the bone. Even with goat and chicken curry, where the pieces of meat are smaller, the bones are probably included too. One great bonus of this is that the meat is kept as tender and succulent as possible during the cooking process and will fall apart in your mouth. Just remember to pick out the bone before you bite!
Patties are flat, thin pastry stuffed with all kinds of meat, vegetables, or fish, then mixed with typical flavorful spice. There are all kinds of flavor combinations, so enjoy sampling them all!
Ackee and saltfish are a genius mix of cod and savory fruit brought to Jamaica from Ghana in the 1700s — very popular with locals and tourists alike. This mix is cooked together with onions, tomatoes, chilies and other spices, and can be eaten at any time of the day.
“Run Down” is the actual name of a traditional dish of fish cooked in a pot together with vegetables and coconut milk until the pieces of fish “run down” into small, succulent flaky pieces. Simple, but delicious!
No, this isn’t the Solomon Grundy from the famous nursery rhyme. This is a spiced pickled herring paste that’s perfect with crackers as a popular snack. It’s so appealing that if you’re not careful, you’ll eat the entire tub!
Callaloo is a food slightly similar to cabbage. It’s made by cooking the leaves of green vegetables, and is sometimes mixed with onions. This option is very healthy and a great pairing with all dishes.
Some of the most loved Jamaican foods (although not the healthiest!) involve bread. Dumplings (boiled and fried dough) are commonly served with curry, and are great at soaking up that extra sauce left on the plate. Also, there’s bammy: a punchily-named bread made from yuka, soaked in coconut milk and then – you guessed it – fried.