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I'm just in from a week spent on the island of Jamaica visiting some of my family. Every trips results in some version of a culinary awakening. This year I was more eager to taste and explore and the island did not disappoint. Here is a "taste" of Jamaica from our trip this year.
Sprats: We bought these tiny oil fish at the market from a fishmonger that cleaned them for us. They are rinsed and rubbed with a streak of salt and pepper and fried till crisp.
Jimbiling: Or West Indian Gooseberries. These bright green fruit grow on the trunk of a relatively small and delicate tree and are by far the tartest food I have ever encountered. They are used to make an equally tart sauce and are occasionally eaten raw with a generous sprinkle of salt.
Snapper & Festival: This is beach food. The red snapper is caught and soaked in the ocean water to season, then shallow fried in oil. Festival is sugar-sweetened dough fried till golden. It's served with the snapper and escovitch – a simple sauce of white vinegar, onions, minced garlic and fiery scotch bonnet peppers. We ate this after the full moon trip to Hellshire Beach. I am sad to report there was not a mermaid in sight.
Sugar Cane: My Uncle Derick harvested a piece of sugar cane from the front of the yard and broke it into pieces for everyone to eat. You chew the dense, fibrous cane until all the sugar is gone.
Fried Sprats: The finished product is surprisingly crunchy but you have to watch out for the little bones while eating these. My uncle says you have to eat fish in silence, because talking makes people careless about the bones. We ate these with a vinegary hot sauce and hard dough bread.
Festival: Unlike dumplings, festival is shaped into long, oblong forms. It's traditionally served with fish.