Travelling to Jamaica means that you will have an array of delicious authentic food to choose from! Here’s the inside scoop on what to eat while in Jamaica, so you can spend less time searching and more time enjoying!
# 1 Eat A Jamaican Patty
This is Jamaica’s favorite snack! Similar to the Argentinian empanada and the British pasty, the Patty has a flaky buttery crust. It’s filled generously with your choice of beef, chicken, shrimp, soy beans or savory vegetables! The patty is one of our most versatile treats and is loved island wide. It’s the perfect on-the-go meal, suitable for any time of day. Want to know where to find it? Easy, yummy patties are sold on almost every corner, are affordable and easy to love! This is a must eat for locals and we are certain you will love them too!
# 2 Ackee And Codfish (Ackee And Saltfish)
Breakfast is served! This savory dish combines salted codfish with Jamaica’s national fruit the Ackee. We then add fresh tomatoes, bell peppers, white and green onions the Jamaican Scottch Bonnet pepper (we do not recommend using Scottch Bonnet when preparing it for children) to make a flavorful dish. We usually pair this burst of flavor with fried or boiled yams, sweet potatoes as well as green bananas or fluffy fried dumplings. This dish is so amazing the government dubbed it the “National Dish”!
Sides: boiled ground provisions, boiled bananas, plantains, breadfruit
# 3 Eat Jamaican Jerk Chicken
You’ll no doubt have heard of jerk chicken, even if nothing else on the list. In fact, jerk is so famous many people think it is Jamaica’s national dish! Though it is not the national dish, it’s arguably our favorite, and plays an important part in Jamaica’s history and culture. The method of jerking meat dates back to the era of slavery when groups of escaped slaves settled in the hills of Jamaica and brought from Africa their method of curing meat by smoking it. They used the available island spices to marinate the meat, seafood, and even vegetables. These days we tend not to bury the meat in the ground, but grill it slowly over pimento wood to give the meat its distinctive smoky flavor.
There’s no question that the jerk style of food preparation is authentically Jamaican and it needs no official status to have a place in our hearts and on our plates!
Sides: festivals, bammy, breadfruit, rice and peas, roasted ground provisions, boiled bananas, plantains, breadfruit
# 4 Eat Jamaican Rice And Peas
This side dish stands on it’s own but is generally considered a side! The flavor of the rice comes from the stock produced by slow cooked kidney beans and fresh coconut milk. We add a bit of salt, garlic, green onion, garlic and a little butter. We generally complete a meal with rice and peas, however, we think it’s great on its own. Some Jamaicans add even more flavor to the rice by adding pigs tail to the pot while it’s cooking. Traditionally cooked for Sunday dinner with chicken and vegetables.
# 5 Eat Jamaican Escovitched Fish
This dish is as Jamaican as the white sand beaches! The Fish is prepared by seasoning, frying and then marinating it with a peppery vinegar-based dressing. The colorful bell peppers, carrots, pimento seeds and onions adds a burst of flavor to this already delicious meal. A visit to a rustic seaside restaurants will ensure you get the morning’s catch! Ask the chef for a small demonstration of his marvelous cooking it’s sure to be inspiring!
Sides: festival (sweet fried dumplings), bammy, breadfruit
Tip: The fish served will have small bones in it. Be very cautious when eating the flesh.
# 6 Eat Jamaican Curried Goat
My personal favorite! (mouth waters)
Probably the next most popular dish in Jamaica is curry goat. Exactly as it sounds, it’s goat meat that is curried. Most people will be able to tolerate it, but the curry is usually fairly spicy. Because of the cooking process, the goat is usually so tender it falls off the bone and is a favorite for lunch or dinner.
Sides: plain rice, rice and peas, fresh vegetables, potato salad, roti
# 7 Eat Jamaican Pudding
Now for an after dinner treat! Jamaican pudding comes in variety of extraordinary flavors. It is made from sweet potatoes, bread, cornmeal, coconut or bananas. The chef will then blend the main ingredient with flour, natural spices such as nutmeg, cinnamon, vanilla and coconut milk. The pudding is traditionally baked by pouring the mixture into a dutch pot (a thick cast aluminium pot), placing in on top of hot coals and then adding more coal on top of the pot’s lid! They call it “Hella top, hella bottom, and hallelujah in the middle!”. Today most people make it in the oven, but there are still local spots that you can find it made the traditional way, The Jamaican pudding is a concoction of authentic local flavors and is part of any Jamaican culinary experience.
#8 Eat Devon House Ice cream
If only Jamaica had a national ‘creamy dessert’! Devon House ice cream will bring back fond memories to every Jamaican. This treat is easy to find. We have ice cream shops on every corner that serve various traditional and tropical flavors. Ensure to sample their specialty and my favorite flavor the Devon Stout!
Next tip but certainly not least, please remember to check the ingredients in case you have food allergies. What are you waiting for? Since you know what to eat while in Jamaica. Get out and on one of our foodie tours!