The Jamaican cuisine is true mirror image of the society which could be described as a melting pot of people and cultures. Just like its people the Jamaican cuisine are blends of cooking styles and spices tried and tested resulted into what has now become the Jamaican cuisine.
The Jamaican motto is “out of many one people”. This literally describes the diversity of the people and culture in a nut shell. Throughout the years many cultures have integrated into one, thus cultivating a permanent and nourishing impact on the Jamaican Cuisine.
Over a 150 year period about 700,000 Africans were brought to Jamaica. They were chiefly from the then Gold Coast region of Africa now known as Nigeria and Ghana. The abolition of slavery in 1834 augmented the arrival of other immigrants onto the island searching for new opportunities.
Then a few years later came the migration of other nationalities from around the world settling in Jamaica. Their impact on the Jamaican cuisine was huge. They brought their many spices and contributed to the already evolving taste and diversity of Jamaican cuisine. They created new dishes with what food type was available which still exists in the present Jamaican society.
The different people have shaped and influence all that is now present day Jamaica. The Jamaican cuisine can be traced back to the Tainos and Carib Indians of South America who were among the first inhabitants of Jamaica. Fishing, hunting and cassava cultivation were the main source of survival. They are also noted for the initiation of “Jamaican Jerk ” style which is arguable the back bone of the Jamaican cuisine.
During the years of slavery the African slaves were left to eat the remnants of what the upper class such as the plantation owner rejected. Consequently, this gave rise to the use of cow feet, pig feet, chicken feet, and animal intestine among other parts. The Jamaican cuisine at that point in time was influenced by the local spices and herbs that was available to slaves but cooked with African traditions. We are still enjoying the many stews and soups done in coconut milk which is intricate in nowadays Jamaican cuisine. Our cultural ground staples were directly influenced by the Africans in the Jamaican cuisine.
The Indians most noted for the curry which they introduced into the Jamaican cuisine, along with roti, dahl, and chutney among others. The Chinese are known for shrewd cost cutting methods and they have used a mixture of vegetables and meats with local Jamaican spices brilliantly. Thanks to all these mixtures of people, cultures, traditions and spices we have something truly unique, “our Jamaican cuisine.
Today the Jamaican cuisine can be found all over the world. Many of our authentic spices and cooking techniques dated back to the Africans is still used. The Jamaican cuisine has been infusing with other cooking techniques in Canada and the United States. It is quite normal to see natives of other countries cooking the Jamaican cuisine and calling it authentic.
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