I love food. When I think about what I miss about the United States 80% of that list is directly related to food. Donuts, drive-thrus, mexican food, McDonald’s pancakes, good burgers, the ability to go out to eat and be done in under an hour, etc. I don’t think of myself as super picky. I will try anything once; with the exception of things that are obviously too spicy for my wimpy self. I have tried a lot of the local dishes, fruits, and vegetables. Some are fabulous and some are not. I thought I’d share my favorite and my least favorite so far.
I’ve tried a lot of things I didn’t like here. The national dish is ackee and saltfish. I don’t love it but I don’t hate it. Ackee is a fruit that looks like scrambled eggs when it’s cooked. Salt fish is cod cured in salt. They have huge crates of salt fish stacked taller than me at the stores and it stiiiiinnks! I feel like I could like ackee and saltfish more if I didn’t smell the dried out fish at the store.
But ackee and saltfish isn’t the worst. oh no, not even close. That dang Easter bun & cheese was way worse! And even worse than bun & cheese is curried cow foot. I am in no way trying to be disrespectful but, holy moly, I don’t know how Jamaicans eat it. And not only eat it but love it! yuck yuck.
It actually doesn’t look bad in this picture. I asked the server how to you eat it. She said “you chew the gummy parts off the bone”… any meat product that is described as gummy is not something that sounds appealing to me. The flavor isn’t bad. It just tastes like curry but it’s the texture. Oh my goodness the gummy texture. I couldn’t do it. I took two bites and I couldn’t force myself to do any more. It was like a slippery piece of rubber covered in snot. I’m glad I had the experience and I can say I tried cow foot but it’s not something I will ordering again.
Now for the best thing I’ve had… I have to go with the obvious Jamaican jerk chicken. It really is so good. We’ve had it at fast food restaurants, sit down restaurants, on the side of the road, on the beach, and it’s good every time. I was worried about the spiciness of jerk when we first arrived but I haven’t met a jerk chicken I didn’t like. I must be getting tougher.
I think jerk is best when you go for the leg and thigh combo. It’s tender and juicy and smoky and spicy and just all around delicious. Jerk seasoning relies on two main ingredients: allspice and scotch bonnet peppers. It could also include garlic, scallions, thyme, nutmeg, cloves. The most common way you’ll see jerk being prepared is on jerk grills. It is an old oil barrel cut lengthwise with hinges attached and several holes drilled through the top for ventilation of the smoke. It’s smoked into deliciousness.
I will never tire of jerk chicken. Scott typically prefers jerk pork over chicken but I’m a chicken girl through and through. Another great perk of jerk chicken is the sides that go along with it. My personal favorite being festival, YUM! In short, it’s fried dough. so duh, it’s tasty. It’s a dough made with corn meal and flour, rolled into a log shape, and then fried in oil. Simple and delicious!
Sometimes I like to dip it into honey butter but mostly just eat it plain. It’s enjoyable either way. I want to go pick some up right now!
And I have to give a shout out to all the fruits we get to enjoy. Watermelon year round, pineapple, guava, and MANGO! oh the mango. I have never really liked mangos until I had a mango here. Joan (Allie’s nanny) brings them from the tree at her house and they are incredible. I already know I will miss mangos when we leave Jamaica. I will just soak in all the mangos while I can!