The Caribbean is full of wonderful culture, dance and most importantly food! The streets are filled with amazing smells and so many different flavors to explore and cherish. But where to start? The hardest part of island hopping is knowing what is special to a specific island and what is common across the Caribbean. Here are the top, local foods you have to try when you visit the beautiful country of Jamaica.
Jamaican Patties are a food staple for both the tourist market and Jamaican locals! Similar to a stuffed pastry, the best patties are flakey and buttery on the outside and warm and juicy on the inside. You can buy them spicy, or sweet, with different types of meat or even vegetables. The most famous patties are typically beef filled and just a tad spicy. If you get hooked enough on patties during your visit you can swing through one of the many restaurants specializing solely in this delicacy. (The last time I visited, I picked up a hot patty to pair with my latte at the local coffee shop. I know, weird combination, but this goes to show you can find them everywhere!)
Probably, the most famous of the Jamaican dishes, jerk chicken can be found on every single street corner. Even though a fall of the bone chicken does play a roll in creating this typically smoked meat, the key is all in the seasoning. Jerk seasoning comes in all different levels of heat, spice, and flavor and can be purchased in multiple ways: as a marinade to glaze veggies and meat, or in dry seasoning packets. You haven’t had Jamaican food until you’ve tried Jamaican jerk chicken!
Pro Tip: Walkerswood is one of the most famous brands in Jamaica and my absolute favorite when it comes to seasonings.
Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee
If you’re a coffee drinker in any form you have to either try a cup or bring home a bag of Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee. The JBMC bean is rare and grown locally.
Its name, of course, comes from the Blue Mountains on the eastern half of the island that gives it its unique, smooth and balanced flavor. And hey, JBMC is even rumored to be served on Air Force One for the president of the United State-Talk about a famous Cup o’ Joe.
Rice and Peas
Typically served side-by-side to jerk chicken, the first thing to know about Jamaican Rice and Peas is that there aren’t peas in the dish at all! What we might call kidney beans, Jamaicans typically call red peas. You can find lots of rice and bean dishes all over the Caribbean as not only is it a cheap staple, but it also provides lots of energy to get through long working days and lots of walking in the sun.
Ackee and Saltfish
Jamaican’s national dish ackee and saltfish is definitely not for everyone. A texture that looks and feels a bit like scrambled eggs, the dish is both salty and fruity. Cooked properly, ackee is perfectly safe. If you eat the fruit unripe, it could give you a vomiting sickness so strong it leads to seizures, coma, and even death. Make sure to eat this at an established restaurant where you can trust the cook and maybe not try to make this one at home.
Just like any other country, the list of foods to experience could go on forever, but these are certainly the highlights. Don’t finish your time in Jamaica without branching out a little and trying these delightful, local flavors.
Are there any other foods you tried in Jamaica that your taste buds just can't stop thinking about? Are there other Caribbean islands or countries you want a food break down on before you travel? Make sure to comment below with your suggestions!
If you enjoyed this article, want to learn more about local, yummy foods to try, or just want to stay in the loop with all things travel, make sure to subscribe. Follow me on instagram or head to my "Home" page and send me a message! I would love to chat.
As always, God Bless and I hope to see you somewhere around the world.