Eating in Jamaica

There’s a huge variety of food and cooking styles which seem to differ from parish to parish. There’s no shortage of vege or vegan fare, and eating fat-free or sugar-free isn’t too hard.

Things to note

Bones in nearly all fish and meat meals. watch out for splinters as the meat isn’t jointed; it’s cleaved.

With Jamaica producing Blue Mountain coffee, I expected more coffee available. There’s Blue Mountain instant coffee everywhere, and you have to suss out who does a brew/percolated. Condensed milk, packet milk or sometimes UHT. Occassionally I came across an espresso eg The Italian Job in Port Antonio.

Sugar. Lots of it. Staff are surprised when I give them back the packet. It’s added to most juices. If they make juice fresh, make sure to say no sugar.

Fast food. I’ve  seen all the usual suspects but there are some surprises. Eg, in Mandeville there’s a place cslled Island Vibes that looks and acts like a Subway, but has great JA food and four-fresh-greens smoothies with no added sugar. It’s the only place I’ve  been served in cardboard, not polystyrene which is used for nearly all meals eat-in or out.

Dishes. Are you up for mannish soup? Goat feet and other bits. How about cow foot? OK let’s stick to callaloo, jerk anything, patties (there’s a couple of chains of patty shops), ackee and saltfish, curry gost, festival, rice and peas, roots tea, conch soup (pronounced conk), liver and onions, dumplings, I’ve seen at least 4 types of porridge, rundown, rice and peas, oxtail and beans, fritters, tripe and more.

Prices are rarely displayed, so I was never quite sure if I was being charged tourist price. In hotels, prices don’t usually include taxes.

A list of food is often on display, ask what’s being cooked today as not all will be available.