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Traditional Food Preparation in Jamaica: Tools & Methods

Traditional Food Preparation in Jamaica: Tools & Methods

The Full Story

Jamaican cuisine is a combination of locally grown and imported ingredients, spices and flavours as well as cooking techniques that are influenced by the major ethnic groups: Tainos, Africans, Europeans,
Chinese and Indians. Although there are modern pieces of equipment used in food preparation in kitchens islandwide, there are long-established processes and tools that are indigenous and traditional, which have been used in creating delicious meals for generations. Some utensils such as the Dutch Pot continue to be a popular in Jamaican households. Others such as the yabba are waning in popularity and are considered to be heirlooms rather than cooking tools. Identified here are some of the traditional cooking tools and methods, their places of origin of and the materials used to make these tools.

Cooking Equipment 

Jamaican cooking amenities have evolved from open wood fuelled fires to high-end modern gas and electric ranges with ovens. However, some households are still using the traditional coal stove to prepare daily family meals.

Barbacoa – The Barbecue

The original Jamaican barbecue is a Taino invention. The now widely used word “barbecue” is derived from the French word, babrecot, which is itself a corruption of the Arawak1 word, barbacoa, meaning “heated sticks”. The barbacoa was made of heated pimento wood on a raised platform and was used to “jerk” wild pigs. The barbacoa is no longer used for jerking meat in Jamaica and has been replaced by metal drums customised for slow-cooking meats.
Coal Stove
The coal stove is a small charcoal fuelled cooker with a basin-like top covered by a flat metal grill attached to a long hollowed cylindrical foot. Similar  to a single cooktop, the coal stove was used to cook a wide range of foods. Meats could be placed directly on the grill of the coal stove or on sticks laid across the top of the stove to be grilled or smoked.
Pots that were usually round and blackened were positioned on coals for cooking. The coal stove is still a primary cooking device for some Jamaican families, especially when roasting breadfruit. Over time, the coal stove has lost its prominence to kerosene, gas and electrical cooking appliances. The cooker was introduced to Jamaica by Dutch traders during the period of slavery…READ MORE

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