Fun in the sun is always a guarantee in Jamaica, but so is fantastic food and plenty of refreshing beverages. While food across the Caribbean leans towards the simple yet satisfying, Jamaica’s put its own twist on plenty of favourites. Not only that, but the islanders are responsible for having invented lots of superb recipes you’ll be hoping to take home following your holiday.
You might have sampled Jamaican food and drink before at restaurants or specialist venues closer to home, but nothing beats the authentic flavours of the island. Check out our recommendations below.
Let’s start with one of the most famous of Jamaica’s dishes. Jerk chicken infuses chicken with hot spices and then has the meat seared and smoked over pimento wood. You’ll find this national dish both at street food stands and in the most upmarket of Jamaican restaurants, so it’s a versatile meal. Don’t be shy asking for the milder variation of jerk chicken if spices aren’t your style, because the Scotch Bonnet chilli used in Jamaican dishes like this make jalapeno peppers look positively tame.
If you’re one for veggies, you can move past Jamaica’s love of chicken, goat and fish to tuck into some callaloo. This meal takes local leafy veggies that we simply don’t see back home and mixes them up for a crisp, healthy treat. Greens such as amaranth and taro are steamed for a rich, spinach-like flavour.
Think of the pasties found back home, only wider and flatter, full of fish, meat or veggies and with some added dashes of spice. Jamaican patties are held in the hand, fried to perfection to make the ultimate guilty pleasure. With so many flavours to try, you’re sure to find one that’ll suit you.
Plantains look like bananas, but have a sweeter taste. Jamaicans have made the most of that by deep-frying or boiling plantains as a bar snack or something to grab on the go. Be sure to enjoy this delicious treat at least once on your trip.
Blue Mountain coffee
Jamaica is home to one of the most delicious and exclusive coffees in the world, which is sought after by caffeine fans across the globe. Because the beans are grown so high up, they enjoy a unique flavour and are cultivated with care and attention. You might have to splash out a little for a bag of these beans, but sip some at a coastal cafe and the flavour will more than speak for itself.
What Jamaican people don’t know about rum simply isn’t worth knowing, and the island is home to countless famous brands. You’ll hear the Appleton Estate mentioned with fondness while out and about, and the rums produced there go well in the punches poured at many a local festival or party. Strawberry syrup, sweet pineapple or orange juices and lashings of rum make for a tipsy treat indeed.
Red Stripe beer
Jamaica’s national beer is well known worldwide, but it’d be remiss not to sample it where it all began. Red Stripe beer is mild yet crisp, and you’ll find plenty of bars serving it chilled here.
This is a warm drink enjoyed come the holiday season, but can be found any time of the year too. Sorrel takes hibiscus flowers of the same name, grinding them with sugar and ginger and boiled with water and rum, to make for a healthy yet indulgent drink. It’s a dark purple colour and the health benefits are said to include lower cholesterol and lower blood pressure. In that sense, it perfectly matches the relaxed outlook of Jamaica.
The island is full of food and drink well worth getting stuck into. Let us know your favourite Jamaican dishes while planning your next island trip with us.