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Jamaican cuisine is a healthier diet than most because it is made with many unprocessed foods and uses smaller amounts of red meats with much more fish, beans and vegetables. Ginger, garlic, allspice and hot peppers are basic seasonings used in Jamaican cuisine. Unhealthier trends are emerging as Jamaica has taken on some of the traits of its many visitors, particulary British cuisine and American cuisine.

Jamaican goat, chicken and Ox tail curry


Foreign influences
British cuisine and American cuisine are not new to the island. Through many years of British colonialism the cuisine developed many habits of cooking particular to a trading colony such as the consumption of tea. The natives of Jamaica drink the most tea per capita in the Caribbean to this day as a result.

There is a difference in the flavors of meats, such as pork and chicken, from other countries because of differences in the diet of the animals being fed on local foodstuffs as opposed to imported grains. Jamaican chickens in particular have a unusually rich flavor. Jamaicans eat much more chicken than beef or pork.

Mango and Soursop Ice Cream are two popular desserts. Jamaican ice cream is traditionally made with coconut milk, rather than milk or cream as used elsewhere. The most popular Jamaican ice cream flavors are Grapenut (not the cereal) and Rum Raisin.

Cuisine of the Tainos
Christopher Columbus visited Jamaica multiple times towards the end of the 15th century and the beginning of the 16th century, once even shipwrecked off the north coast for 2 years (1503-1504). During these visits he described a way the Tainos (the ancient people of Jamaica ) used in preserving meat by mixing peppers, allspice and sea salt to make what is now known as Jamaican jerk spice.


Popular ingredients

  • Ackee
  • Yuca
  • Plantains
  • Scotch bonnet peppers
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Chayote (locally known as "chocho")
  • Malanga (locally known as "coco")
  • Allspice
  • Ginger
  • Jamaican jerk spice
  • Okra
  • Callaloo
  • Black-eyed peas

Popular dishes

  • Saltfish and ackee
  • Jerk chicken
  • Curried goat
  • Rice and peas
  • Jamaican patty
  • Jamaican spiced bun

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