Beautiful beaches and pulsating reggae may have put Jamaica on the map, but this tropical island is also known for its uniquely flavoured foods. You’re sure to sample some of the best known dishes wherever you stay, but if you really want a taste of authentic Jamaican food then head out for some street food. From boiled crabs in the East to peppered shrimps in the South, you will find a variety of mouth-watering treats to quench your appetite. Here are our recommendations for Jamaican street foods you to try.
Doused in Jamaican scotch bonnet pepper and local seasonings are a handful of shrimp crammed into a tiny plastic bag. They can be found on street corners in nearly every major town but it’s at Middle Quarters in St. Elizabeth where you’ll find the best peppered shrimp on the island. Just pull up on the roadside and half a dozen ladies will run up to the vehicle shouting “swims! swims!” – the local name for shrimp. If you like spicy food, this is one delicacy that won’t disappoint.
The Jamaican patty is an icon when it comes to local food, so much so that international patty chains have sprung up in West Indian communities in the US and the UK to feed the demand for the delectable pastry. The patty is a thin flour crust filled with any one of a variety of incredibly delicious stuffing such as beef, chicken, cheese, vegetables, shrimp, soy chunks, lobster and more recently curried goat. Once you try a patty, you’ll wonder how you ever lived without it! Good thing it is ubiquitous around the island and there’s always a patty shop nearby.
Sky juice is what our neighbours up north refer to as a snow cone – shaven ice topped with your choice of flavoured syrup for a delicious treat to help quell the hot tropical days. In former years, it was a common feature at parties, fairs and community events. Nowadays, the sky juice has morphed into the ‘bag juice’ – frozen juice sold in a sealed bag and peddled by vendors on nearly every street corner. While the original sky juice can still be found in some places, the bag juice is much more popular and either can be enjoyed as a refreshing option to beat the pelting island sun.
Roasted Yellow Yam
The community of Melrose Hill in Manchester has long set itself apart as the best place in Jamaica to enjoy roasted yellow yam. For decades, locals in this area have perfected the art of grilling yellow yam – a starchy staple on the Jamaican menu – and serving it up with another local favourite, the saltfish. Mention Melrose Hill and roast yellow yam is the first thing that comes to mind. Take a drive on the South Coast and stop in Melrose Hill to see the vendors transform this plain root into a delectable treat right before your eyes.