Jamaica Food and Drink
With its wide historical background, combining English, African, Asian and native Caribbean cultures, Jamaican cuisine is similarly rich and varied. Meat, poultry or fish play a starring role in most local dishes, which also make use of the island’s ubiquitous fresh fruit and vegetables.
Although some Jamaican food can be hot and spicy, a surprising number of dishes are free of chilli peppers. Street food is a popular and affordable way to delve into local cuisine: visitors should try some street snacks, which include savoury patties and sweet coconut cakes, such as gizzada and toto.
Tropical fruits are plentiful and inexpensive too, including pineapple, mango, soursop, tamarind and coconut, which are delicious whether eaten fresh or blended as smoothies.
Ackee: The cooked fruit of the ackee tree, served with salt fish (dried cod).
Rice and peas: This ubiquitous staple dish actually consists of kidney beans mixed with white rice, coconut milk, spring onions and coconut oil.
Pepperpot soup: A meaty broth with chunks of salt pork, salt beef, okra and callaloo (Indian kale).
Jerk: Hot and spicy chicken or pork, marinated overnight in rich spices (cayenne pepper, garlic, chilli, lime juice and all spice) before being wood-smoked in strips.
Curry goat: Spicy but not over-hot curry, traditionally served at festivals and special local events.
Patties: Baked pastry turnovers, stuffed with meat or seafood mixed with vegetables.
Bammy: Traditional flatbread made of cassava flour, eaten either as a snack or served as a side dish with meat or fish stews.
Jamaican rum: Is delicious and potent, with famous labels including Appleton, Myers and Captain Morgan.
Coffee: Jamaica's Blue Mountains coffee is rated among the finest on the planet, though most of the best coffee beans are exported.
Ting: A zesty carbonated soft drink made from Jamaican grapefruit.
Red Stripe: Jamaica’s best-known beer is sweet, nutty and smooth.
Things to know
Bars can open and close when they choose. They are no licensing hours, alcohol can be bought all day and most have table or counter service.
Hotels and restaurants tend to add 10% as standard; otherwise 10 to 15% is expected. Tipping is banned in many all-inclusive resorts.
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