Jamaicans have a strong love for food. It doesn’t matter if it’s food from a 5 start restaurant, cook shop or the lady on the roadside selling her home-made goods. The “Taste & Buy” method of selling roadside goods shows how serious Jamaicans are about their food. Let’s visit the top 10 Jamaican Roadside Food.
Soup: Chicken foot, chicken neck, cow skin, manish wata (goat head/belly) are what you will find hot and ready anywhere in Jamaica. You’re almost guaranteed to find a man or woman with a huge pot outside a party or on the way to the countryside.
Corn: Boiled in that same pot of soup or roasted to perfection. The sight of a corn vendor is reason to pull over and purchase one or four to eat on spot.
Boiled Crab: One of the messiest meals but one of the most satisfying meals in Jamaican culture. These crustaceans are hunted and boiled in a huge pot with onions, pepper, thyme and garlic. Some turn their noses up at it but for the ones who love boiled crab, the sight of a vendor is reason for a pit stop. Pull out a plastic bag or some newspaper as a makeshift place-mat, get comfy and dig in!
Roast Fish: Now you’d have to be “In the know” to find the few spots that offer roast fish in the city. On Friday and Saturday nights however, your chances of finding a roadside pan with fish seasoned with okra, carrot, callaloo, pepper and crackers grow significantly. If you see smoke billowing from a pan on the roadside, stop by and ask if they have fish, you may be in luck!
Nuts: Roast nuts, raw nuts, salted nuts, peanut cake, peanut brittle…everything NUTS! You can’t miss these nutty roadside delights. Grab a pack and fight hunger!
Jelly Coconut: Another nut that Jamaicans totally love. To “wash off your heart”, keep a healthy blood pressure level and just stay cool in the Jamaican heat. Once you’re finished drinking the cool coconut water, you have the roadside vendor chop the nut in half and slice off a makeshift spoon that will allow you to scoop out the jelly goodness. Yummy!
Jerk Chicken: Now this is a given. Jerk pans are as plentiful as bars and churches. The key is finding a jerk man who has a flair to his fingers and makes the tastiest bird. Regardless, Jamaica isn’t short of this 2nd National Dish.
Pepper Shrimp: This is an ode to the Jamaican love affair with all things pepper. Boiled with onions, escallion and pepper then bagged and drizzled with a pickled pepper sauce, pepper shrimp is the perfect spicy snack.
Jerk Pork: There’s nothing quite succulent, quite juicy, quite delicious and satisfying as jerk pork. You’ll probably find some beside (but not in) a jerk chicken pan, as pork and chicken can never be mixed on the same grill. If you’ve never had it, now is the time. Get to it!