Travel Tips & Features

5 Reasons To Visit A Jamaican Supermarket On Your Vacation

Written by Xavier Murphy

For many who vacation in another country they never get the true experience of a culture and it’s people. If you are locked away in an all inclusive resort a visit to the supermarket is one of the best ways to experience a culture. The supermarket is a culinary and cultural classroom to learn about Jamaica and Jamaicans. Here are 5 reasons to visit a Jamaican supermarket:

1. No Pretense
You can observe people going about a normal everyday activity without the posturing you may encounter at the tourist spots. No one will be pretending to be someone else. You can see how people interact with the products, how they make choices, how they greet friends, how they interact socially and how they transact business.  Feel free to ask shoppers questions as you will find Jamaicans to be very friendly and willing to engage you in conversation. The cultural lessons you will learn are priceless.

2. Learn the Language
The official language of Jamaica is English. The unofficial language is patois (sometimes spelt patwa or patwah). There is an internal debate amongst Jamaicans whether patois is a language. To most foreigners there is no debate that the distinct sound of Jamaican patois is a language. What better place to see Jamaican patois in action than at the supermarket or grocery store. As mentioned earlier you will see how people interact socially with friends they meet while shopping. You will see how they greet each other in Jamaican patois during these interactions. It is a great way to hone your Jamaican patois skills.

3. Learn About Interesting Food & Products
Some of the cuisine you may encounter at your hotel may be Jamaican however it may not be what the typical Jamaican eats daily.  The supermarket offers you an insight of the types of food Jamaicans eat daily. Walk over to the meats, fruits and vegetable to explore the exotic offerings of the Jamaican cuisine. Touch, smell and ask questions about the foods as you learn. (Do not try fruits you have not purchased as it is looked on as stealing.)

4. Explore Interesting Designs & Packaging
A visit to a Jamaican supermarket may seem similar to the ones in your home town, however take a closer look at the packaging of products. In many countries milk is sold in a box. In Jamaica there are brands that sell milk in a bag. Pay close attention to logos and packaging design. Are more vibrant colors used on the packaging of Jamaican product? Even the names of some Jamaican products reflect the culture. One great example is the bottled water brand “Wata”. The Jamaican patois version of the word water was used as their brand name.

5. Compare & Contrast Cultures
A visit to the Jamaican supermarket will allow you to see what products from your country is been sold but with a different spin. Flavors you may never see in your country, of a specific product, may be available in Jamaica. Learn what cuisines from your country are popular in Jamaica. Would you have guessed that American apples are imported to Jamaica and sold in some supermarkets?  What other products from other countries are popular in Jamaica? This is the perfect place to answer this question.
Prices also give you an insight on the cost of living in Jamaica as compared to your home country.

A visit to the local supermarket may also lead to you trying Jamaican cuisine. You may just love it so much you want to take it home. With globalization you may be surprised at how many Jamaican products you can find online or in that cultural aisle in your local supermarket.

About the author

Xavier Murphy