We get a lot of questions all the time about Jamaican foods and what it is like there, and what people eat. So this week we decided that we would share ideas of how to eat like a Jamaican. Yes, you heard that right.
Let us give you a little background…
Back home some foods, like clothes, are more casual. Other meals, like clothes, are more formal and not eaten very often.
A lot of people plant food stuff in their gardens. So apart from fruits and herbs, people plant potatoes, yams, bananas, and lots of vegetables. I remember how my students were shocked a few years ago when I told them that back home, I didn’t buy bananas and oranges because I grew them in my own garden so I could just go outside and pick what I wanted.
Some people also rear their own animals for food. I personally used to rear chickens. It was a lot of hard work, but it made us save a lot and at one stage we also sold chickens to neighbouring families and even businesses.
Bear in mind that poverty in Jamaica is real. But food is a big part of family life and celebrations. And no one dares waste food! That would be a big no no!
Thinking of eating like a Jamaican, here are some common meals we would have back home
- Corned beef and rice is a favourite as it is so convenient (no need for a fridge or freezer.)
- Ackee and saltfish (it is Jamaica’s national dish but is not expensive at all so can be had quite often)
- Calaloo and saltfish (same as above as calaloo, which is similar to spinach is grown quite easily.)
- Brown stew chicken back (chicken back is cheap meat and is used a lot)
- Soup (without meat). This is cooked especially when the day is rainy. Always with lots of chunky foods like yams, potatoes, breadfruit, etc. Soup is never blended or pureed, even in a restaurant.
- Stew peas and rice. Also, this dish could be made with or without meat. The meat is generally salted beef or pork. People have been known to make it with chicken feet. (Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it as it is really tasty)
- Turned cornmeal (similar to Italian polenta)
- Run down
- Pepperpot soup
- seasoned rice (that’s the first thing I learned to cook. Long story but I’ll share it another time)
The meal plan for next week will see us eating like Jamaicans would eat back
Since Fathers’ Day, we’ve been reminiscing a lot about Jamaica and the atmosphere and food etc.
Guess what we remembered? People, even when poor, still want to appear the opposite. I remember once going to visit my father and his then live in girlfriend. They were both broke but didn’t want the neighbours to know so they fried up onions, thyme and tomatoes in hot oil so the aroma would waft over to the neighbours who would then think they were cooking up a storm.
When I asked daddy about that, he told me that lots of people do that too. So sometimes the amazing aromas you find coming from people’s homes are just that… beautiful aromas with natural herbs.
Thankfully, we are able to cook up lovely dishes for dinner next week. Thanks to the sacrifices made by our parents to make sure that we went to school and got a good education (that was very expensive), we wont have to fry up herbs and seasonings to impress the neighbours.
So we will have:
- Sunday- Rice & peas and chicken. This is typical in most homes on a Sunday, just as most people do a Sunday roast here in England
- Monday- Oxtail and Rice. This one is usually reserved for a special occasion like a birthday or a party, or New Year’s Day. Some people may use this for a meal to celebrate being paid at the end of the month.
- Tuesday- Curried goat and rice. Again, this type of meal would not be an everyday meal for dinner in Jamaica. Unless you’re rich, it’s usually served at special occasions.
- Wednesday- Ackee and saltfish with fried dumplings. If you’ve never tried Ackee and Saltfish, you should. I must warn though that the ackee does contain allergens so be careful.
- Thursday- Run down with salted mackerel or saltfish and boiled green bananas
- Friday- Turned cornmeal with fish curry. This was one of the dishes we shared on Shop Smart Save Money and it was a winner. Since then, we have been cooking it a lot at home too. The turned cornmeal is made with cornmeal, seasonings and coconut milk. Some people use polenta too. You can find the recipe here.
- Saturday- Pepperpot soup. This is as yummy as it sounds. It is a green soup made with spinach or calaloo and lots of vegetables. It may or may not include meat. It is also spicy and delicious.
We are linking with the lovely Katy Kicker and other bloggers to share inspiring meal planning ideas each week. Check her out too.
On Wednesday we made Moroccan lamb burgers using Katy’s recipe and they turned out to be ‘the bomb’! The students at school would say it was ‘pukka’.
A lot of Jamaican foods don’t grow here in the UK because of the climate here. We rely on getting canned products like Ackees and powdered seasonings from local shops that import them or buy them from importers. We are especially pleased with the quality and price of their products. And they are stocked in most major supermarkets.
Check out these other popular Jamaican dishes.