seejamaicacheaply logo

Jamaica's home-grown cuisine is a fusion of many ethnic traditions and influences and the product of generations of women who as children apprenticed alongside their mothers and grandmothers and grannies who cooked using yabbas (clay pots) A fair amount of Jamaican cuisine is an adventure in tongue-lashing. A key ingredient is pimento (or "allspice"), which is indigenous to Jamaica and grows most profusely in hilly limestone areas. The tastiest way to get in touch with the local culture is through the interesting, spicy cuisine served at Jamaican theme restaurants and road side establishments. The national favorites are Ackee and Saltfish (resembles scramble eggs) normally served as breakfast and mouth-watering spicy jerk pork and chicken, a Jamaican speciality. There are many Jamaican restaurants to choose from and the fun can be found simply in being adventurous.

Dining in Jamaica ranges from wildly expensive restaurants to humble roadside stands and bamboo shacks where you can eat simple Jamaican fare for as little as US$1.00 Hole-in-the-Wall restaurants often serve fabulous local fare; don't be put off by their often basic appearance (unless they are overtly unhygienic). Most serve at least one vegetarian meal (often called I-tal, a Rastafarian inspiration for 'pure' or health food).

Restaurants geared to the tourist trade are generally over-priced (often outrageously so). partly because much of the food they serve is imported. Most hotels incorporate Jamaican dishes in their menus, although these are often tame versions of the spicy island cuisine.

Food bought at grocery stores is usually expensive. Many of the canned and packaged goods are imported and cost up to three times what they might cost in your own country but considering the rate of foreign exchange against the American, Euro and Pound it tends to work out in your favor. Bottled water is also expensive although you have a choice of tap (free) served at restaurants which is just as good. You'll find plenty of dirt-cheap fresh fruits, vegetables, and spices on sale at markets and roadside stalls islandwide......please wash all fruits thoroughly.

(Tap water is generally safe, as Jamaica's limestone base serves as a natural purification system. Water is generally safe to drink through faucets throughout the island. However sanitation conditions in some outlying and backcountry areas of the eastern parishes you should avoid drinking the water. The same is said for ice particularly ice bought from road side stands.

Likewise you can usually buy fish (and lobster, in season) from local fishermen. If you have some favorite food items, consider taking them with you, just make sure they are preserved or otherwise not 'live' agricultural products.

Many of the more popular upscale all inclusive resorts sell evening passes that allow you to eat and drink in their restaurants, bars, and nightclubs for a single fee.

Plenty of restaurants serve continental cuisine and virtually every town of any size has fast-food joints such as McDonald's, Burger King and Kentucky Fried Chicken, Their local equivalents are Mother's, King Burger and Juici-Beef and Tastee Patties (these are the staple and most popular and tasty snack in Jamaica - a patty - which is thin, tender yet crisp crust filled with highly spiced, well-seasoned beef or chicken or vegetables costing less than a dollar which is quite filling).

Jamaicans typically forsake corn flakes for more savoury fare at breakfast: ackee and salfish is typical. The average Jamaican eats a heavy lunch and dinner. Other dishes could be pepper pot stew, fried fish, or 'jerk' pork or chicken or another nation dish using island ingredients simmered in coconut milk and spices.

Jamaican's most popular dish (now finding its way onto the world market) is jerk, a term that describes the process of cooking meats smothered in tongue searing marinade.