A Jamaican Cookbook Promotion:
The following post highlights the virtues of acquiring a local cookbook upon relocating to Jamaica. If you are a person who enjoys cooking then a local cookbook is a “must have” in your personal library. Your cookbook, a curious palate and an open appetite will soon transform “breadfruit”, “ackee”, “callaloo”, “green banana”, “plantains” and “avocado pear” into familiar household terms.
I am a person who loves cooking and enjoys good food, so I naturally packed all of my favourite cookbooks for our move to Jamaica. At that time, I was not aware that many of the foreign ingredients that my favourite recipes called for were not readily available on the Island. If per chance, I was able to locate the ingredient, I soon realized that the cost of importing goods to Jamaica filtered down heavily into consumer prices. As a result, I learned fairly early to start cooking local dishes and I must confess, it has been a great experience. I tell myself that I now make the national dish of ackee and salt fish like a pro. I even made my first Jamaican Christmas cake last year; a feat that left me feeling quite proud.
During my first year in Jamaica, I remember wanting to make a dish and going to the grocery store to purchase something as simple as limes. Not a lime was in sight, so I asked the sales clerk, “Where are the limes?” Her answer was very interesting for me – a woman accustomed to the flexibility of purchasing anything desired at any time of day or night in the good old USA. The sales clerk answered, “Dem outta season ma’am.” This meant that the limes were out of season. “Oh!” I remarked, as childhood memories flooded back of produce being plentiful at certain times of the year and scarce at others. “Oh it’s like mango season,” I told myself, as I went in search of bottled lime juice.
I later learned and finessed the common practice for effectively planning a dinner party in Jamaica. Best practice dictates first going to the grocery store to ascertain the available items and then using this information to plan your menu. Chasing after products which may not be in season in order to make a dish is a “no-no”. I am now way better at predicting what to cook at what time of year; a fact that has benefited my food budget positively.