The Culinary Converter's family is packing up and heading for Jamaica! Due to the largess of my beloved mother, our extended (and scattered) family tries to get together in some beautiful and sunny place once a year. We are heading to what I think is one of the most beautiful places in the world, a small resort outside of Montego Bay. For about six months, I have thought about what I will have for lunch when I arrive: Bustupshut Roti (paratha roti) with curried shrimp and green mango chutney. Possibly with a Red Stripe (I will already have had a rum punch, probably at the airport).
The food. Oh, the food. Curries, ackee and saltfish, spicy meat patties, curried goat. Mangos, pineapple and papaya. Oh my. Also, the coffee. Jamaica has a long and fascinating religious history. This diversity has also left its stamp on the country's cuisine.
While known mainly for its indigenous Rastafarian movement, the Rastafari are a religious minority in Jamaica, constituting less than 5% of the population. The traditional Rastafari diet called Ital (like vital) tends toward vegetarian, although fish is not uncommon.
Highly churched, the island country boasts the largest number of churches per square mile in the world. But despite being overwhelmingly Protestant, Jamaica is religiously and ethnically diverse and this diversity has also left its stamp on the country's cuisine. While Islam first came to the island through West African slaves and was systematically destroyed by the institution of slavery (much like in the US), Islam arrived in a new wave with Indian laborers in the 19th century. Bahá'ís also make up a notable Jamaican minority. Jews have been in Jamaica since the Spanish Inquisition and, while they have never amassed large numbers, have left a cultural imprint on the island (Bob Marley's father's family was of Syrian Jewish descent; take that Jewish Geography!).
The Man and I went to Jamaica for our honeymoon thirteen years ago and it definitely changed the way we cook. And the way we drank. We had the privilege of staying at the beautiful Jamaica Inn outside of Ocho Rios. Every morning began with Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee on our balcony and was swiftly followed by a delicious Planter's Punch on the beach. Now, I have been chasing that punch recipe for about a decade. Every island does their rum punch differently, and every establishment has their own variation. While I have been (crazy) fortunate to be able to explore rum punches in quite a few Caribbean locales, nothing beats the original at the Jamaica Inn. And while I can't guarantee that this recipe is exactly what the Inn provided us back in 2003, this punch (the result of much trial and error) will send you to Jamaica, at least in your mind.
For those of you who like the cocktails and the rum, we leave you for the week with this gem:
Note: Don't neglect the nutmeg. The Man thought I was bit looney when he saw me take the grater out, but when he tried the drink both with and without, he agreed emphatically that it is essential. Make a pitcher of this stuff; you won't be sorry.
2 ounces Jamaican Rum (Appleton rum is preferable)
1/2 oz fresh lime juice
1/2 oz fresh lemon juice
1 oz fresh orange juice
2 oz pineapple juice
1/2 oz grenadine or to taste (The Man likes his drinks sweet, me not so much)
Angostura and Peychaud's bitters to taste
freshly grated nutmeg for garnish
pineapple wedge, orange slice, and maraschino cherry (optional garnishes)
Combine all but the nutmeg in a shaker. Shake and strain into a rocks-filled glass. Garnish with freshly grated nutmeg and any optional fruit. Salut!
So, are you going somewhere this summer? What will you be eating and drinking on vacay?