Jamaica’s rich culture has long been a major factor in drawing tourists to the country. The Rastafari movement, along with the success of popular musicians like Bob Marley and Shaggy, have showcased Jamaican culture around the world for the last five or six decades.
Along with experiencing the country’s unique culture and tropical climate, another crucial aspect of visiting Jamaica involves sampling the local cuisine. Here are five of the country’s most popular dishes that tourists to the region simply have to try.
1. Jerk Chicken
Jamaica is famous for its Jamaican jerk spice, and jerk chicken is one of the region’s most popular dishes. Jerk chicken involves cooking the chicken and marinating it with a mixture of hot spices. Jerk seasoning typically makes use of Scotch bonnet peppers. Jamaican jerk spices have gained huge popularity in the United Kingdom, following the release of Reggae Reggae Sauce by Levi Roots, a jerk spice featured on the television show Dragon’s Den.
2. Curry Goat
Once served primarily at weddings and other celebrations, curry goat has now emerged as more of a mainstream party dish. Although originally a form of Indian cuisine, curry goat has been adopted by Jamaicans and is now one the country’s most popular meals. Typically served with rice or potatoes, curry goat consists of goat meat and a fairly mild curry, prepared using those popular Scotch bonnet peppers.
3. Mannish Water
Mannish water is a soup made from various goat parts, including the head and heart. The goat pieces are seasoned using local spices and herbs and cooked with vegetables and dumplings. The soup is deep-rooted in Jamaican culture as it has long been considered an aphrodisiac. As a result, it is often served to a groom on his wedding night. Mannish water is significant in western culture as it is believed to have served as the inspiration for the title of the 1973 Rolling Stone’s album ‘Goats Head Soup’.
4. Coco Bread
Widely eaten in Jamaica, along with several other Caribbean countries, coco bread is a sweet and starchy bread, prepared with a small amount of coconut milk. Coconut bread can be eaten on its own, or used to create sandwiches, such as the Jamaican patty sandwich.
5. Ackee and Saltfish
Last, but by no means least, ackee and saltfish is Jamaica’s national dish. Traditionally eaten on Sundays, the meal consists of salted cod, boiled ackee fruit, onions, tomatoes and spices. It is sometimes garnished with bacon and served with rice, salad or hard dough bread.