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JAMAICA: Culture

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CUISINE

The cuisine of Jamaica shows a multitude of influences from around the world. The first cooking on the island was by the Arawak Indians who made use of native produce and meats. Fish, corn, cassava and callaloo - a green similar to spinach - were mainstays of the diet. With European settlement and the introduction of slavery, English puddings and pasties and African yams, okra and ackee - a tree fruit used as a vegetable - entered into the repertoire. After the abolition of slavery the British brought over indentured servants from India, and various curries became popular. Chinese immigration expresses itself in the popularity of sweet-sour dishes. Use your international cell phone rental to fins these local dishes.

Other ingredients in wide use on Jamaica include bananas, breadfruit, chocho (or chayote, a type of squash), bok choy, butterbeans, pawpaw (papaya), lime and avocados (known only in Jamaica as pears). Pork, chicken, fish and shellfish find their way into various dishes. Allspice and thyme are typical seasonings in Jamaican cooking, and the super-hot Scotch bonnet pepper adds fiery punch to almost everything. Jamaica rum lends itself to a variety of tropical drinks. And Blue Mountain coffee, grown in the interior, is a world famous export. Use your Jamaica cellular phone renatls to locate a store that sells this coffee.

Goat curry is special occasion food and shows the influence of East Indian cuisine in Jamaica. Ackee and saltfish is a mixture of salt cod and the scrambled egg-like fruit and is considered the national dish. Perhaps the most widely known and beloved of Jamaican food is jerk. This method of grilling meats originated with the Arawaks and involved cooking marinated meat over a fire of pimento wood. The pimento tree is the source of allspice, a beloved Jamaican flavoring, and allspice finds its way into every jerk recipe. Your international cell phone rental can help you find a restaurant that serves these dishes. The vegetarian cooking of the Rastafarians, called Ital cuisine, is an important subcomponent of Jamaica's food culture. Ital focuses on not only the nutritive value of food but also on its medicinal effects.

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