restaurants in jamaica, jamaican food
Porridge? Yes, you should definitely try that – it’s nothing like the sludge you get in England… | Photo courtesy of kaymoshusband via Flickr

You’re going to Jamaica. I’m jealous. But you definitely don’t want to take Buzzfeed’s advice and eat food that bears no resemblance to anything Jamaicans actually eat. I would know: Even when we weren’t holidaying to my parents’ homeland, I was always on a gastronomic voyage to the island.

Growing up, these were facts:

1)      Curry was only cooked with goat.

2)      Knowing how to eat around the chicken feet in chicken soup was an essential skill.

3)      Rice was not a side dish unless it had with coconut milk and kidney beans.

4)      Waking up to the smell of fried plantains and dumplings was better than seeing stacks of pancakes drizzled in maple syrup on your breakfast table.

Here are eight foods you must eat on your next trip to Jamaica:

Mains

Jerk Pork

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Photo courtesy of Ron Dollete via Flickr

Any time I mention Jamaican food, someone always wants to tell me how much they loOoOove jerk chicken. No. Jerk pork was a staple at every single barbecue I ever went to. Bonus points if it’s served with rice and peas and a salad or coleslaw.

Ackee and Saltfish

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Photo courtesy of Kent MacElwee via Flickr

This, my dear friends, is Jamaica’s national dish. Ackee is a fruit that grows in Jamaica and is partly toxic. If I’m perfectly honest, I don’t even know what it tastes like when it hasn’t been mixed with salted codfish, tomato, and peppers. Eat it with festival (a sugary fried dumpling) or bammy (cassava and coconut milk flatbread).

Snacks

Stamp and Go

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These are actually accras in St. Lucia, but this is what Stamp & Go looks like! | Photo courtesy of purdman1 via Flickr

It has a funny name, but it tastes delicious when freshly made. This fish fritter is typically a breakfast food, but I don’t see why you couldn’t pick it up as a snack at a market on your way to the beach!

Patty and Coco Bread

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Photo courtesy of bionicgrrrl via Flickr

Jamaican patties are a turmeric-tinted flaky pastry filled with spiced ground beef, meat, or veggies. You can buy them at a lot of grocery stores, but they just aren’t the same unless they’ve been wrapped in sweet, fluffy coco bread (bread with some coconut milk).

Dessert

Gizzada

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Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

This spiced coconut tart with pinched edges is a staple in Jamaican dessert fare. Everyone has his or her own spin on this classic, so you should probably try them all!

Coconut Drops

If you want to love Jamaican desserts, you’re going to have to like coconut. Coconut drops have grated coconut, ginger, and sugar that’s been baked. There’s also grater cake, which is a sickly sweet combination of sugar and ground coconut.

Drinks

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Red Stripe Beer | Photo courtesy of LifeSupercharger via Flickr

Carrot Juice

I’ve actually got some of this stuff in my fridge at this very moment! It’s a tasty combination of carrot, condensed and evaporated milk, vanilla, cinnamon, and nutmeg.

Guinness Punch

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For display only – please get the fresh stuff! | Photo courtesy of lili.chin via Flickr

Jamaicans drink more than Red Stripe beer! There’s Irish Moss, and then we have Guinness Punch: it’s a thick punch with the consistency of a milkshake. It combines Guinness, condensed milk, vanilla, and nutmeg.

Now that you’re ready to eat in Jamaica, you’ll probably need to a place to sleep, too. Whether you’re heading to Runaway Bay, Lucea, Ocho Rios, Negril, or Montego Bay, Hipmunk has a place for you!

6 thoughts on “Hungry in Jamaica? 8 Must-Eats”

  1. Cute post! I am Jamaican! Lived there until I was 10. Grew up loving Jerk chicken and still do! I have never heard fritters called stamp and go-funny! Your pictures just made me home sick. I was last there in June and the food just tastes better there no matter how good of a Jamaican restaurant I find in the states.

    1. Thanks! It’s probably just my old school ass parents – ha! I haven’t been in 8 years and I’ve been trying to organize something so my partner could see where my family’s from. Maybe you’ve gotta open your own restaurant (in your kitchen)!

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