There are two good reasons to talk about jerk chicken/meat in January. (1) It heats up our thoughts and appetite during the cold winter days and (2) in a few weeks many will be headed to sunnier pastures for carnival, and this conversation is the perfect warm up session! So how and where did it all begin?
When Arawak Indians first settled in Jamaica they smoked and dried meat in the sun or over fire, like Peruvians (called charqui
in Spanish). When the Arawaks died and were replaced by African slaves
, the slaves began to escape and hide in the Blue Mountains. Whilst in hiding for days, sometimes weeks, they used similar jerking methods to preserve their meat and keep them going until the next meat hunt. The meat was spiced and wrapped in leaves to keep.
Today jerk meat or fish is one of the few local dishes that have become globalized. It is fiery hot yet spicy sweet. The dry, smoky flavors are balanced out by the rich juices retained in the meat from slow cooking methods used. Traditionally cooked jerk on an open pit or half steel drum will leave a lasting taste on your palette. If you ate it on the roadside in Kingston with an ice, cold Red Stripe beer
, you may find yourself booking a ticket years later just to experience that fiery hot, spicy sweet moment once again.
MOCCA Mums , what do you think it takes for a local dish to become globalized? Given a choice which meat or fish will you be jerking?
(Photo credit grub blog)