Discover Caribbean Cruise Food Guide: Jamaica Cuisine
Easily among the top 5 most interesting culinary scenes in the Caribbean, Jamaica is truly a destination you can get to know via your tastebuds.
Many parts of the world have influenced its distinct cuisine. Places such as Africa, China, India, and South America. The cuisine is ingredient-driven, relying on island-grown produce and fresh seafood. You could have Italian or some other international cuisine in Jamaica, and it would be decent. But the humblest authentic Jamaican meal will surpass any high-end “gastronomy” experience.
Our culinary tour of Jamaica starts in Ocho Rios. Here are the top 10 things you absolutely must try in Ocho Rios and where to find them.
If you can eat only one meal in Jamaica, try to find a good jerk shack. This is the island’s delicious version of a pit barbecue. Meats rubbed in fiery spice mixture (mainly Scotch bonnet pepper). Followed by slow-cooking them over charcoal fire.
Salt Fish & Ackee
Jamaica’s national dish, salt fish and ackee, is a skillet-fried salt cod and tropical fruit sauté. Seasoned with plentiful Scotch bonnet peppers and onions. It’s like no breakfast fry-up you’ve ever had before. But here, it’s breakfast. Or maybe, dinner. Locals eat it for any meal.
Where: Mom’s Homestyle Restaurant is a downtown staple with local and cruise ship credibility.
The classic “greens” dish served in most local This leafy green veg is typically steamed with onions and peppers. Of African origins, it’s most closely comparable to Southern collard greens.
Where: Mom’s Homestyle Restaurant has this on its breakfast menu and suggests you have it with the Salt Fish & Ackee.
The classic “greens” dish, Callaloo, is served in most local restaurants. This leafy green vegetable is typically steamed with onions and peppers. Of African origins, it’s most closely comparable to Southern collard greens.
Miss T’s Kitchen does traditional dishes like this so expertly, the Food Network has featured her. This is a popular stop on culinary excursions.
Rice and Peas
Most of these ingredients are always part of the ubiquitous side dish. Green “pigeon peas,” coconut milk, onions and liberal lashings of hot red pepper. Kidney beans are sometimes substituted for the pigeon peas.
It’s available basically everywhere, so try it at Mom’s, Scotchie’s, Miss T’s Kitchen and anywhere else you eat, and see which version you like best.
Curry Meat and Fish
Curried dishes are very popular in Jamaica. The chicken dish is the most basic meat. Curried goat is the one you should try if you’re bold.
Where: Mom’s Homestyle Restaurant serves up a half-dozen curries daily.
Probably the most popular midday snack. This is the Jamaican meat pasty. It is also commonly compared to empanadas. But a proper “patty” is spicier and meatier than its doughy deep-fried Latino cousin.
Whole fish, seasoned, fried (often with onion and pepper), and drizzled with vinegar. You can always add pepper sauce if it’s not spicy enough for you. Or with “bammys,” toasted cassava flatbreads, to sop up the spicy juices. This is another popular Jamaican breakfast.
Mom’s Homestyle Restaurant or Island Grill
The name came from “journey cake” because these used to be road snacks. They’re best fresh. This is because they’re basically deep-fried dumplings. Anything deep fried is best when fresh and piping hot.
Captain’s Bakery 2 Rennie Road] specializes in island treats. But also serves some main dishes like curry and jerk pork.
Speaking of fried deliciousness, these are a favorite Jamaican dessert. They are quite similar to banana pancakes. And yes, they can also be breakfast.
Mama Marley’s 520 Main Street is in the cruise passenger-frequented part of downtown. But is locally recommended—for the fritters, and everything else on the menu.
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