Five Jamaican foods to try that will change your life

Updated: Jun 19, 2018

Ever eaten a dish that makes you say, "Where have you been all my life?" The Festival has over a hundred different dishes to try, including loads of authentic staples from the Caribbean. Here are our top picks of Jamaican food to try if you've never had them before.

1. Jerk

Don't get mad, we mean the delicious mix of spice that includes Scotch Bonnet chillis and pimento and shares the same name. You will find this spicy mix on chicken wings, corn, loads of other Ital (Meat-free) dishes at the festival and on just about anything in Jamaica. Traditionally, it's cooked on a barrel barbecue like the one pictured below.

2. Patties

Like a pasty, but better, patties are delicious and flavoursome and have a kind of buttery pastry on them that has its own Moorish quality. Try any variety from lamb to chicken to vegetable or saltfish (salted cod) and always seek out the juiciest ones.

3. Coconut

Fresh, nutritional and perfectly refreshing on a hot day, coconuts seem to be more common than water in Jamaica. They aren't always easy to choose or obtain, depending on your tree-climbing skills, so luckily we have fresh ones expertly chosen on hand at JMFF.

4. Rice n Peas

Let's get this straight, this a rice dish made with stewed kidney beans and not frozen peas like those that keep popping up at dubious looking food stalls around town. Rice n peas, done properly includes fresh coconut and thyme, and perfecting the dish is essential to the art of attraction.

5. Ackee & Saltfish

If you don't know what this is, then it's time to you need to explore this dish. It is so tasty it is considered to be Jamaica's national dish. Ackee looks and tastes just a little like scrambled egg, and cooked with saltfish, chillis and onions it's a simple combination that sings. Ackee is imported as it doesn't grow in Australia, so if you see it, seize the chance to give it a try.

There you have it - five dishes you can find at the festival that may change your life - or at least spice it up a little. And these are just the tip of the iceberg - keep an eye out for fried wings, curried goat, jerked eggplant, bammy, roti and so much more. Good luck!

Jerk is cooked on a barrel BBQ like this one

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