Thursday, January 7, 2010

Not so light breakfast- Jamaican Food Experience

I am normally not a breakfast fan, but in Jamaica, I was impressed with their breakfast food and never missed a meal. Their breakfast is very heavy, even I admit that. It usually consists of something fried or greasy, callaloo or another vegetable, and a some bread form- dumplings, yam or something bread like, and sometimes a fried banana on the side.

Here are some breakfast experiences:

Saltfish with vegetables and callaloo-
We picked up this breakfast at Sweet Spice outside of Negril on the way to Mayflower falls. Jackie, out taxi driver, recommended it, and we trusted Jackie in his choice of good local food. The restaurant was inside of this dilapidated plaza which had bars on all doors and windows. There were no other cars or people there, and absolutely no tourists. We followed Jackie into the empty restaurant. One of the waitresses came up to us to take our order. She did not give us the menu, just told us our choices: (1) saltfish, (2) chicken, and (3) liver. Jackie stayed till the waitress took our order and made sure we understood each other, then went back to his car to wait for us, or whatever funny business he does while waiting.
So, back to the saltfish. First impressions: very greasy, also salty. I like greasy, so this is a more than adequate breakfast for me. Greasy saltfish was mixed with greasy peppers, carrots and zucchinis. The green stuff is callaloo. Callaloo is a leafy veritable (similar to spinach or chard). Callaloo is sauteed with other stuff that blends in. I could also identify finely chopped green beans in this mixture. This dish is served with some pastry on the side, sort of sweet, but tastes good when you dip it in the seasoned fish grease. This was all excellent and there was nothing left on my palte (even the veggies were gone!)

A side plate was also served with this dish containing a baked banana, 2 fat slices of yams and a dumpling. No bummy this time :(

Chicken in sauce with callaloo-
Continuing experience from Sweet Spice. Svetlana ordered chicken in greasy sauce (don't know the name, since they didn't have menus). Needless to say it tasted delicious! But, there was a challenge here- we noticed that quite often if not every time when small pieces of meat are served, they are full of small sharp bones. In fact, the meat is grilled as a whole, but when they serve it they cut it up into small pieces all together with the bones. So you have to be careful and eat slowly.

Still at Sweet Spice. We learned that that everything gets cheaper as you move away from the tourist attractions and hotels. Since this restaurant was not near any tourist places in Negril, it was not overpriced. Actually, it was quite cheap, so we treated ourselves with a blended mixed juice (papaya, pineapple, orange).
We also had coffee. Since their coffee is quite strong, we asked for milk. What we got was one small metal container (lower left corner) with some thick paste. The waitress said: "This is milk". So, I split it between our 2 coffees ready to ask for more. However, when we tried the coffee, it had a very sweet caramel flavor. Later on we asked Jackie what it was and he told us it was condensed milk. That's what they normally have with their coffee, but they still serve regular milk at hotels for tourists.

Ackee and saltfish-
Ackee is fruit that grows on ackee trees. You can read more on about ackee in my fruit post. Ackee and saltfish is traditional Jamaican food. It is different to see fruit mixed with meat or eggs. But in Jamaica they eat ackee with everything. From what I gather, the reason for this is because ackee grows on trees, unlike money.

Deep fried fish with veggies and fried bread-
This was my first breakfast in Jamaica- deep fried fish and deep fried bread. Great combo! This bread reminds me of "ustipci", which I will have to make one time and post. You have to watch out though, these snapper fillets are not boneless.

Ackee and saltfish omlet-
Last breakfast at the hotel, Khus Khus Negril. Heather, the hotel manager was trying to get us to eat there every single day. But we preferred eating at the beach or local restaurants. Finally, the very last day we decided to make Heather happy and try out the hotel restaurant.

I am also not a coffee fan, but I happily drank Jamaican coffee, with brown sugar and milk every morning and it was good.

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  1. Love your food pics. Yep the food is amazing there, glad you ventured out and tried a lot of different meals. Nothing compares to Jamaican food.

  2. you have something correst but not all true...there's no beans in the calaloo..what you might have seen is the stalk from the leaves. Calaloo is similar to collard green in size of the leaves but easy to cook like spinach...the whole [;ant is the calaloo and can be used.
    The bananas are NOT baked..they are fried..or if boil bananas are left over from a day before it can be fried..may give that baked taste if done this way.
    The chicken is chopped up like anything else NOT filet, it's just want you will find in chicken..bones. The little "pastry" is not "pastry" it's fried dumplings.. it becomes pastry when sugar is added and coenmeal and thats called "festival" similar to hush-puppies but stiffer and made in a longer shape than round. Glad u liked the food and wasn't afraid to come out the box like most tourists.