Di ting dem yuh can fine inna one Jamaican kitchen

Green plantains and yam in a basket
Green plantains and yam in a basket

Hisssss, crackle, pop pop!

The Jamaican kitchens I’ve had the pleasure of being in are always full of distinct sounds and smells. From waking up to the sound of dumplings being fried for an early breakfast to the smell of chicken being stewed amid a medley of seasonings, there are certain things one can expect to experience in most Jamaican kitchens.

Having spent my fair share of time in the kitchen (ok yes I would live in there if I could), I quickly decided that learning about Jamaican food would be an important priority for me. While there are a multitude of similarities shared by American and Jamaican amateur cuisinaires, I’d like to highlight some of the distinct features of the Jamaican kitchen. Without further ado:

Green bananas: Nope, I do not mean bananas awaiting ripening. A common Jamaican staple food is the boiled green banana, which can be eaten with just about anything. Consequently, they are the one Jamaican food item that I outright refuse to eat. This is saying a lot considering what I’ve already ingested (chicken foot, pig skin with hair still on it, chicken liver and kidney, etc.).

Actually, these are mostly ripe.
Actually, these are mostly ripe.

Yams: Similar to green nanners, yams are a Jamaican staple. When a Jamaican says “food,” they’re usually referring to yams. If you think you know what I mean by yams, you’re probably mistaken. There are more types of yams than I can count, and the ones you buy here are typically larger than a small child’s head.

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Sweetened Condensed Milk: This sticky sweetness is used to make porridge, to liven up desserts, and oft’ paired with instant coffee. Does this stuff remind anyone else of vintage America? No Jamaican kitchen is lacking its Betty.

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Caawn Meal n Flowuh: Cornmeal and flour are used to make lots of things- from boiled dumplings to fried dumplings to porridge to gravy. These are always on hand.

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Coconut Milk Powder: Easier to carry back home than its canned relative, less effort than grating a coconut and making it yourself. This convenient pouch is used in preparing the coveted rice and peas for Sunday dinners, as well as in puddings and curries.

Coconut milk along with powdered soy milk
Coconut milk along with powdered soy milk

Escallion, thyme & black peppuh: These three are like the holy trinity. If you’re seasoning meat to prepare in nearly any style, you’re going to need these in abundance. Throw in some gaalic and you’re set!

Dutchie: AKA Dutch pot, a dutchie is used to cook just about everything- from curried goat to ackee and saltfish. As in: 

Prepping dinner in the dutchie- no cutting board req'd
Prepping dinner in the dutchie- no cutting board req’d

Food Covers: Bugs in Jamrock are no joke, and Jamaicans are hyperaware of this. There are always lots of these babies floating around to protect yo s%*t!

Mi pick NUFF ackee, mon
Mi pick NUFF ackee, mon

I’ve been spending lots of time with my host mom in the kitchen; in our house, it’s an open, inviting gathering place. Look out for many more updates, including cooking tutorials and dish highlights! Until then, lieta an walk gud.

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