Dutty Fridaze 03: Jamaican Food!!


Dutty Fridaze 03: Jamaican Food!!
Cut by: Davita Cuttita

So what is Jamaican food? Lots of stuff!

The Jamaican diet consists of fish, seafood, white rice, fruits (bananas, coconuts, mangos, lychee, avocado, plantains, casava, jack fruit, etc), dumplings, soups, vegetables (yams, potatoes, tomatoes, spinach, onions, ackee, corn, cabbage, carrots etc) and  meats such as chicken, goat, beef and pork (although some Jamaicans do not eat pork for personal/religious reasons).

Many spices are used to give Jamaican food it’s rich flavour, such as curry, jerk seasoning, seasoning salt(s), garlic powder, crushed pimento seeds, thyme, skellion (green onion) and much more. Most Jamaican goods, seasonings and sauces are sold in grocery stores and I highly recommend buying “Grace” or “Mr. Goudas” brands as they are common household name brands in Jamaica as well so you’re getting the authentic flavour. However, DO NOT purchase any curry unless you buy it from an “ethnic” supermarket and it has an extremely powerful smell with a somewhat dark golden yellow hue–buying the wrong brand of curry will make your food taste bland and watery.

So what are some common Jamaican dishes?

Patties are one example of a popular Jamaican snack. They come in beef, vegetarian and a whole lot of other flavours. Many people buy the frozen patties and I am going to tell you today that those are shit. If you want the true Jamaican experience, it is best to visit a Jamaican bakery and order a box of a dozen. They are freshly baked and would cost you about the same as the frozen brand (or even less, depending on where you go) and are of much higher quality. A good patty has a light, fluffy, golden crust and is stuffed with a lot of seasoned ground beef. They are also as authentically close to having a patty from Jamaica as you can get so throw that frozen crap in the trash.


Jamaican beef patties.

Next, we have Jamaica’s national dish which is ackee and salted fish (cod that has been dried out , salted then boiled repeatedly until moist and smooth). Ackee is a fruit that grows on trees in Jamaica and is cracked open and left in the sun for about a day to allow the poisonous gases to escape. The ackee “meat” is then picked out, washed repeatedly and can be fried. It has a light taste and buttery texture similar to an egg white with a pinch of salt.

Most people just buy ackee in a tin can however because ackee is somewhat a delicacy and most tinned ackee brands come directly from Jamaica, they may fetch you about $5 per can! This dish is quite easy to prepare, however.

Salted fish is easy to find and sold in filets–it lasts a long time inside or outside of the fridge. Boil it repeatedly until the salt is “gone” to your taste, then “pick” the filet into small pieces with your hands. On medium heat, fry up some onions and tomatoes (some people add red/green peppers) then add the salted fish. As those fry, open your tin of ackee, strain it into a strainer and run it under some tap water quickly. Add it to the salted fish, then add a little bit of black pepper (or any other seasonings if you want) to taste. Allow to fry for 5—8 more minutes then serve. Ackee and salted fish is most commonly served with boiled or fried dumplings (dough fashioned into circles and boiled till firm) and boiled green bananas (sans skin!) although some people do have it with rice or in a sandwich. This is commonly a breakfast dish but most Jamaicans enjoy it anytime they please! It looks like this:


Ackee and saltfish with a side of boiled bananas and dumplings.

Jerk food is another Jamaican sensation sweeping over nations. This process is over 500 years old and is one of the few cooking practices left after the genocide of the Arawak Indians who had passed it onto the Maroons before their demise by the hands of Christopher Columbus. It is thought that these groups used jerking as a cooking practice as the spices allowed meat to last much longer. Jerk sauce is a unique variety of spices and seasonings that one then puts meat in and allows to soak. Afterwards, you roast or BBQ this meat over an open fire however some Jamaicans who do not have access to this method may choose to bake it an oven (although the latter provides optimum flavour). Jerked meat is quite spicy but extremely flavourful and very, very, juicy–definitely a favourite amongst Jamaicans and increasingly the world! You can enjoy jerked meat with just about anything; I love jerked chicken and rice.

Jerk chicked with rice and peas.

Jerk chicked with rice and peas.

The next most common dish in Jamaica is rice and peas with oxtail and is traditionally made every Sunday in most Jamaican households. Don’t ask me why because I have no idea. Oxtail is extremely tough and without a pressure cooker you will have to stand around with it for 10—12 hours so yeah; get a pressure cooker to save 8–11 hours. Once pressured cooked to softness, it is cooked again in a large pot, usually accompanied by large beans that have a sweet and salty flvour. Oxtail is extremely soft, smooth and buttery in texture with a unique beefy flavour found in no other cut of meat: it literally falls off the bone and melts in your mouth! I won’t even touch the recipe for this dish with a 10ft long pole as it entails (ha!) a lot, so here’s a picture of freshly prepared oxtail with beans:

Oxtail with beans, ready to be served on a bed of rice and peas.

Oxtail with beans, ready to be served on a bed of rice and peas.

Jamaica has a lot of deserts; many of which are coconut, sugarcane or ginger based. The most famous of all is rum cake and I’m sure we all know what’s in it (I’ll give you a hint: RUM!). It tastes a little bit like fine red wine with a hint of Jamaican rum…if it were a cake. You can’t get drunk off it though and it is mostly served around Christmastime (we don’t give eachother fruitcakes but rum cakes; says a lot about Jamaicans!) or at weddings. It is quite dark, usually does not have icing and is oftentimes mistaken for chocolate cake by non-Jamaicans.

Another common snack or desert is “bun and cheese”. The bun has a sweet and cinnamon-like taste to eat with raisins baked in with a few candied cherries; the same super-sweet kind you’d get on an ice cream sundae and is commonly eaten with a slice of Jamaican cheddar cheese, cheddar cheese spread, a slice of processed cheddar cheese or a banana. It is commonly enjoyed by Jamaicans everywhere around Easter time as it comes in the size of a small loaf of bread and must be sliced, although some places will sell a small, round  “personal size” version you can buy year round and have as a snack. If you are a man, I must warn you that if you receive a bun from your Jamaican lover/girlfriend/wife, it oftentimes (but not always!) means that she is no longer interested in you or may be cheating on you. Many Jamaican men usually go buy the treats themselves or send children to buy them in order to avoid such awkwardness and I suggest you do the same!!


Easter bun and cheese.

So ask around for advice on a good place and hit up a Jamaican restaurant for some deliciousness!

Anyhoo, your daily NegroVision is below which takes place in the countryside of Jamaica and features cooking with a Rasta, recipes from an old Jamaican lady, old men making funny faces and a “Community Pot”: an event where everyone will gather up whatever little they have and cook outside so all of them can eat (don’t worry, there’s English subtitles). This week’s Jamaican lesson is after the NegroVision and includes FAQ, Clothing Items and Insults.



A weh mi be?
Where am I?

A weh wi a go?
Where are we going?

‘Scuse me, a weh di (inanimate noun) be/deh?

Excuse me, but do you know where the (inanimate noun) is?

A weh ihm/she be/deh?
Where is he/she?

A weh dem gaan?
Where did they go?

A when a wi a go leff?
When are we leaving?

Yu a di time?/ A wah time it be?
Do you have the time?/What time is it?

*A weh dem deh did deh?
Where were those?/Where were they?
*please pay attention to the intonation, it will tell you whether the speaker is referring to a person(s) or an object.

Mi lass, yu can ‘elp mi? I’m lost, can you help me?

Do, mi a beg yu
Please, I implore you

A wah dat?
What is that?

A wah dis be?
What is this?

A how di weddah?
What’s the weather like?

How yu family/Pitney/etc be?
How is your family/children/etc?

A weh yu/ihm/she/dem want?
What do you/he/she/they want?

A weh mi (noun)?
Where is my (noun)?

Yu know weh dis be?
Do you know what this is?

A wah dat (mean)?
What is that?/What does that mean?



Crepe=Running shoes
Tam=A winter hat, toque, etc

An important thing about Jamaican insults is that oftentimes they are disguised as compliments. Many non-Jamaican speakers mistakenly take them as compliments but again, THEY ARE NOT COMPLIMENTS! Be careful to watch for these insults…

Yu bright, ih?
Mistaken for: You sure are smart, aren’t you?
Really means: So you think you’re a smart-ass, huh?

Yu good, ih?
Mistaken for: You’re really nice, aren’t you?
Really means: You’re terrible!

So yu tink yu bad!
Mistaken for: You think you’re a bad person?
Really means: You think you’re so good?/So you think you’re better than me?

“Ih” is pronounced similarly to the double e sound in English and typically if it is at the end of a sentence with a straight upward influxion, the speaker is pissed off. If the influxion is downwards or neutral, it is the equivalent to “uh-huh” in English and the speaker is paying attention to what you are saying. If the speaker says it twice going “ih-ihh!”, the first syllable neutral while the other going upwards, it is a sign of enthusiasm while listening to you, almost like saying “oh really!” in English.

Jamaican is a combination of British English, Afrikaans, French, Portuguese and Mandarin; however it borrows its importance upon tone from the Mandarin language. Be careful with the placement of your voice as it is easy to confuse the listener if you use incorrect tones.

That’s all till next time!!


~ by davitacuttita on February 20, 2009.

5 Responses to “Dutty Fridaze 03: Jamaican Food!!”

  1. … Now i’m all hungry/i>.

    There was a Jamaican bakery down the road from us, called Golden Krust. They closed down a while back, which makes me sad. I’ve no idea how they compare to the real thing, but their patties were delicious. Much better than the frozen kind, anyway.

  2. Gah! Runaway [i] tag! Whoops.

  3. Yeah, Lindsay! That’s exactly what I’m talking about!

    Everyone, please throw away your grocery store bought/frozen patties. They are deh nasties and taste like crap. Buy freshly baked goods!! What a recession this is when not even deliciousness can survive. *le sigh*

  4. Ben does all the cooking in our house (i make a mean bowl of cereal, though – got the milk-to-cereal proportions juuuuuust right), so i’ve sent him a link to the post to learn your awesome foodery ways. He likes to make stuff from scratch, and now we know which brands to look for! Yay! 😀

    I think the deliciousness has been suffering long before this most recent recession. People have gotten too used to fast/instant food.


    When i was a kid, my grandma used to make mini-meatloaves for me and my brother, served with mashed potatoes and gravy. We loved the heck out of it, and she felt guilty that she only ever made us instant mashed potatoes. So one day, she spent an extra hour or two in the kitchen, boiling and mashing potatoes by hand. When she served them up, the response was a resounding, “Grandma! what’s wrong with the potatoes?! they taste WEIRD.” She loved us dearly, but was ready to shake us that day. lol.

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