Jamaican cuisine is the foods from an island rich in heritage and history. Strong influences from the cultures of France, Holland, Portugal, West Africa, East India, China, Spain and Britain are all evident.
And of course the native Jamaicans – the Arawak Indians – have left their mark in what we know of today as Jamaican cuisine. With all these cultures weighing in, it is small wonder that the foods of Jamaica are unique, original, and incredibly delicious.
A history of Jamaican cuisine beginning to evolve starts with the Spaniards’ arrival in 1509. Spain imposed Imperial rule over Jamaica. They drove the Arawak Indians out of any regions they considered most desirable, and committed massive genocide against the indigenous peoples. The Spanish, of course, brought with them their spices, cooking methods and recipes. But they also brought slaves from West Africa, who also brought their own culinary practices, recipes, and favorite ingredients. Not long after the Spanish Conquistadors invaded and settled Jamaica, many Spanish Jews also immigrated to the island.
Spanish Jews brought along their own original dishes, perhaps the most notable one being a sort of vinegary concoction called “Escoveitch Fish”. All of these vastly different cultures started experimenting with their favorite recipes, using fresh fruits and vegetables indigenous to the island, as well as the abundance of seafoods available.
Great Britain overthrew the Spanish rule of Jamaica in 1655. So then the influence of British cuisine began to add its characteristics to the ever-evolving cuisine of Jamaica. The Brits came up with a dish called “Jamaican Pattie” which is perhaps the most famous recipe today attributed to the influence of Britain. During British rule, enormous sugar cane plantations were established – adding a sweet tooth to Jamaican cuisine.
By the mid-1700s, when at last slavery was abolished in Jamaica, East Indians and Chinese people started immigrating to Jamaica. The Indians brought with them their vast array of unique and exotic spices. Jamaican food as we know it today – with lots of hot and spicy dishes – is certainly because of East Indian influence. And of course the Chinese added their own recipes and cooking styles into the mix as well. With this combined Eastern influence, the now world renowned and beloved Jamaican Jerk and Jamaican curry came into being.
For your convenience, the recipes listed below are linked to their own, print-friendly pages. So have at it, click away, and enjoy your ethnic food adventure into the tasty, unique, and spicy world of …
Contact us and/or Join Our Mailing List
(We respect your privacy. Subscribers’ info are not shared with anyone. EVER)