Jamaicans are festive people by nature and love to celebrate as much as the next person. Although we do not celebrate 4h of July or Thanksgiving in Jamaica, we have no problem celebrating with you all as long as there is good food, good people, and good vibes present. Here is a list of things to bear in mind while you entertain your Jamaican guest for Thanksgiving dinner:
1. Most Jamaicans are not fond of turkey. Mainly because we are not accustomed to eating it back home (other than the smoked neck bones) but also because it tastes gamey (raw) and can be dry. Turkey takes much longer to cook than most other meats so be careful about under cooking it and overcooking at as well.
2. Also, make sure your meat is well seasoned. A dash of salt and a hint of pepper will not suffice.
3. While we’re on the turkey, please make sure that the bird, or any other meat if you have any, is not pink or white! Nothing turns a Jamaican off more than meat that is too pale. We don’t care if it is white meat. The outside should have a color to indicate that it is well cooked.
4. Conversely, if you should burn the turkey, do not put it on the table! Your piece de resistance will be the subject of internet memes of Thanksgiving dinners gone bad for years to come.
5. Additionally, this is the time to introduce other meats. Yes, you can cook other meats for Thanksgiving. Jamaicans love a variety of meats at their dinners. A holiday feast for us will typically have at least 3 or 4 meats and at least one fish for those who do not eat meat. Jerk Pork, Curry Goat, Chicken (Jerk, Barbequed, Curried, Brown Stewed), Pineapple Ham, Escoveitched Fish and Roast Beef are among the varieties of meats which the average Jamaican will serve.
6. If you cannot cook Jamaican food it is fine. You cannot slap Jerk Sauce on a piece of chicken and call it jerk. It is an insult to our taste buds and our heritage. If you want to then ask us to bring a dish, which will take the pressure off you having to make something to suit us. Trust me, we won’t mind. We might even bring an entire meal with us.
7. Please identify what you are serving. Jamaicans like to know what they are eating and who made it.
8. Additionally, it is best to stay away from pork based recipes. Many Jamaicans do not eat pork, publicly that is, and may stay away from your collard greens if you disclose that you made it with ham hocks. Time for the turkey neck bones!
9. Keep conversation light and jovial. Jamaicans are very passionate about politics and sports so if you want to preserve your friendship, avoid those topics like the plague. A well meaning dialogue may appear loud and hostile to those who are not familiar with your Jamaican friend so steer clear!
10. Just have fun! Put some lively music on, pour some grown up drinks and enjoy yourselves. No one likes to attend stiff dinner parties. The average Jamaican is no different.