As if Jamaica didn’t offer enough to tempt visitors with gorgeous scenery, beautiful places to swim, dive and snorkel, and fantastic beaches, it also has some amazing food to offer those willing to ‘go local’.
Sweet and yummy when served hot, plantains are a Jamaican staple side dish. Fried and served with butter or mashed like sweet potatoes, these starchy green bananas are picking up popularity in the US, too.
When you are talking of side dishes in Jamaica, nothing is more well-known than the sweet taste of rice and peas. The peas are actually red beans. But don’t let the name throw you. Simmered in coconut milk and heated up with peppers, this is a must-not-miss dish if you want true Jamaican flavors.
But enough of the side-dishes! What do the locals eat for their meals? What sticks to their ribs and gets their days going? Well, breakfast is certainly not considered a tasty start to an American day, but Jamaicans love ackee and saltfish for breakfast. The salty cod and sweet ackee fruit are combined with onions and peppers. Think omelet Jamaican-style.
For lunch be sure to try a Jamaican Patty. This pastry crust with meat filling is a tasty meal. The pastry is stuffed with local fare such as pork, chicken, beef or even lobster. Jamaican spices and curry are added to make this empanada-type dish distinctly Jamaican.
Esoviche uses the fresh fish available in plenty on Jamaica. Ocean fish like Snapper, Kingfish and Grouper are marinated in onions, spices and vinegar. The longer the fish is marinated, the better the taste. It is served like a traditional esoviche. Put away preconceived ideas and give it a try.
For a dessert after a great meal, try a sweet, gooey Gizzadas. These buttery pastries are delicious and addictive — you can’t eat just one. Filled with sweetened coconut, nutmeg, ginger and served in a tart, these things will make you dream of Jamaica long after you are back home.
If you have over-indulged during the meal and want a lighter dessert, then have some fresh fruit. Jamaica is home to a wide variety of tasty fruits like the paw-paw, star-apple or guineps. Sweetsops, mangos and fresh pineapples are also readily available.