What to Eat in Jamaica: Traditional Jamaican Food

posted by Chris Valentine
Jerk Chicken is a Traditional Jamaican Food that many islanders love

Photo by CC user stuart_spivack on Flickr

Jamaica is one of the coolest nations on earth, a country whose rhythms, colors and passion for life flow freely and resonate throughout all of its cultural offerings. There is little to dislike about this nation and if you want to get a true taste of a tropical island paradise in a country that never takes itself too seriously and loves to have fun, then Jamaica is for you. One of the biggest things that has stood out for me during my many Jamaica trips has been the food, it is some of my favorite food in the World and the vast array of flavors that the Jamaicans use leads to some incredible dishes and here are my favorites.


The staple Jamaican dish is jerk, it is a huge combination of spices that are blended together and used to dry-rub meat such as beef, pork and chicken, the seasoning can also be used on plantains and seafood but it is generally seen with meat. The results are a smokey, low spice flavor that simply melts in the mouth.

Rice and Peas

This may not sound exciting but let me tell you that the flavors that the Jamaicans manage to pack into a simple rice and pea dish. This dish will be found in almost every household in Jamaica, both rich and poor and they will all prepare the rice in different ways. Sometimes they will use a meat or seafood stock to prepare the rice and others will stick to a more spicy method, however it is served, it is usually delicious.

Ackee and Saltfish

Like much of the Jamaican food one took me a while to get used to and is probably more of an acquired taste but once you start to like it, you’ll struggle to live without it. Ackee is a local fruit and the fish is dried and salted cod, this is the National Dish of Jamaica and you will find it in many corners of the country, it is usually served with dumplings or bread and even if you’re not up for it, I suggest that you try it out.

Curried Goat

When it comes to a big party or event in Jamaica, this is the meal they serve, a curry using goat meat, plantains and plenty of fiery scotch bonnet chills. The spice mix that the Jamaicans use give this curry a very different flavor to that found in Indian curries and the richness of the goat meat is completely unlike the usually chicken or beef curries that you will have tried. A delicious curry and a great introduction to eating goat if you have not yet tried it.

So there you have it, my top Jamaican dishes for you to try, such is the explosion of flavors, these dishes even give me the feeling of being in Jamaica even if I am just eating at home. The only problem with that however, is that they leave me longing for another trip back to that Caribbean paradise!

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