Updated: Jun 20, 2018
Anyone who has eaten many plates of blackened, mangy-looking jerk chicken might get the impression that Caribbean cooking is fairly limited. The cuisine of most of the English-speaking islands is often lumped under the umbrella of stews, dumplings and pineapple-strewn desserts. Even though the Jerk Chicken at Tropical Taste Caribbean Takeaway in Nottingham will give the quick hit of the fiery, crunchy rub, the mellowness of the moist meat inside and the long, long endorphin-releasing rush of that searing sauce will make this one of the best lunch you have ever eaten.
Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK, and there’s more to it than jerk chicken at carnival. True, Levi Roots and his ilk have done much to popularise Caribbean cuisine in the UK, but, apart from in indigenous communities, you still can’t pop down to your local high street for a spot of Caribbean. Times are changing, though, with London experiencing a new boom in Caribbean eateries and savvy businessmen and West Indian ex-pats spotting Brits’ familiarity with, and love, of intense spicing as well as the ease with which Brits are adapting to foreign cuisines. So it’s time to get to know your callaloo from your cassava and your ackee from your saltfish.
Caribbean eateries and savvy businessmen and West Indian ex-pats spotting Brits’ familiarity with, and love, of intense spicing as well as the ease with which Brits are adapting to foreign cuisines. So it’s time to get to know your callaloo from your cassava and your ackee from your saltfish.
Caribbean cuisine is a blend of African, Amerindian, European, East Indian, Arab and Chinese influences. While each island will have its particularities, most restaurateurs say that some 80 per cent of all Caribbean cooking is centred on Jamaica. Like Cajun and West African cooking, Jamaican cuisine has its own Holy Trinity of ingredients – Scotch bonnet peppers, spring onions and fresh thyme. As a final bonus, most of the ingredients needed for replicating Caribbean cuisine at home are readily available at most good supermarkets. You don’t need any hi-tech kitchen widgetry and if you’re looking for a foreign cuisine that instantly transports you to its original home, there really isn’t any finer example.
But remember, it’s soul food, so take your time and always cook it with your heart rather than your head.