Visitors to Jamaica are usually very delighted by the unique and tasty Jamaican food. Our food is often missed by Jamaicans living abroad, and oftentimes they can’t wait to recapture the taste of the ‘real Jamaican food’.
Jamaican Food History
The Jamaican food reflects our rich culinary heritage, a unique blend of cultures, races, and religions dating far back to the sixteenth century. It all began with the Tainos, also known as Arawak Indians. It is believed that the Tainos never cooked in water, but instead prepared food on charcoal. The Tainos were known to have cooked a lot of cassava, corn, roasted fish and crabs.
After the Tainos, then came the Spaniards. The Spaniards brought their love of seasonings and spicy food to the table. You may experience some of this spicy taste in the ‘Jamaican patty’.
Then came the Asians immigrants, and they introduced more spices of which the ‘curry powder’ is the most popular.
African settlers were another strong influence on the Jamaican food. The Africans added to this mixture of food cultures a lot of variety. Of the most significant, were their cooking style of ‘one-pot’ meals such assoups, and the famous Jamaican ‘jerk’. The Africans was known for preparing jerk pork especially in the parish of Portland. Today, jerk is widely available throughout the island, however, Portland claims to have the title of ‘best jerk’.
The Chinese cuisine has also remained popular in Jamaica and can be found in many restaurants around the island.
Another significant influence on the Jamaican food came from the Arabs. Their style of cooking has been largely incorporated into mainstream Jamaican cuisine, and flat bread and pulses (red peas /gungo peas) were associated with their group.
The Jamaican food owes a lot to the creativity and ingenuity of the host of diverse settlers and the indigenous people. Our remarkable cuisine is also strongly attributed to our climate, waters, fruits, fish, livestock, vegetables and our rich soil. All of this results in a healthy, varied, nutritious and full of flavor ‘Jamaican food’. Our cuisine is also now becoming more popular and available in many parts of the world.
The Rastafarian Influence on Jamaican Food History.
The diversity of the Jamaican Food must include the Rastafarian influence. The Rastafarians have a healthy approach to preparing food, cooking, and eating. They do not eat pork, and the strict ones do not eat meat, poultry or fish. There are even some who believe in cooking with little or no salt and cooking in an ‘ital’ way.
Rastafarians have a cooking style similar to the Mediterranean diet, which has been known to be an extremely healthy and well balanced diet. Throughout the island, you can find different Rastafarian restaurants offering ‘ital’ and tasty meals to those interested.
Traditional Jamaican Foods
Out of the diversified cultural influences and history of our food, arrived the Jamaican traditional foods. Our traditional foods are very popular in our households and our local restaurants. Also, Jamaican traditional foods are widely available at most of our resorts and social gatherings such as festivals or parties. Some popular rational foods includes: ackee and saltfish, jerk pork & chicken, curried goat, patty, rice & peas, and lots more. See our complete list of traditional Jamaican foods.