The Real Taste of Jamaica > Cookbook

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.

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Both Sides of the Story> Shared Comments

My informational blog was officially launched on on May 13th 2008. I started writing a few things earlier in the year, but was truly intimidated to share. Anyhow, I finally got the courage to go public and started advertising that the site was available at several other websites where I think expats visit. What has been most interesting, is when I started receiving daily feedback.

So each morning, I race to my computer to see what people have sent my way, it’s been amazing. I have gotten several “thank you’s” for the information, with a few saying they wish something like this existed before they moved to Jamaica, and a few others suggesting topics they would like to read about.

I wanted to share these two particular comments, which were left about the Jamaican dialect/language.

Comment:( I think the point being made by the following comment, is that the Patois dialect should be no big deal to outsiders)

Come, man. Almost everybody inna Jumayka speak patois, even depolitishan when dem a meet de people, etc. You can barely fin a record which don use patois. Nuff nuff book a write in patois. Many people, though, can and do speak AND write formal English very well, and do so at work and at school

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Translation: Come now! almost everybody in Jamaica speaks patois, even the politicians when they meet people etc. You can barely find a CD/ or music where the patois language is not spoken. Many books are also written in patois.

Response: Thanks for your insight. Please however realize that this blog’s information is to notify Expats moving to Jamaica about the existence and use of patois. Many people move here and it takes them a while to get used to the sound of the words, as they may or may not be English speakers. I have friends from Hungry, Belgium or even Trinidad who have had difficulty in understanding patois.

There are so many things that fly at you those first six months of settling in, and if one is aware of the non- standard English before the move here, then there ears are more “open” I used to go into barber shops to get my hair cut and it felt like I was living in Haiti, as I could not understand a word. I am now way better and even now play with the words myself, but had I known about the language issue earlier I could have been more mentally prepared. I have been told by Jamaicans that “ them nuh know why farrin have a hard time here, as them speak English”…… this was exactly my point.

WATA ( Water)

Another Comment:

As someone who does not speak Jamaican, I had to read some parts a few times.
I imagine you expected that. It is the first eye opener to readers thinking about relocating to Jamaica.
I will say that when I read “learn the language” my first thought was “but they speak English there….right?”
May I suggest you mention that the language is English but “Jamaican English.”
That or mention right away they speak a kind of English and then describe what you mean….the you-tube is a great addition.
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Thanks for the world of feedback.

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Jamaican Role Model> What a Delight !!!!

Today has been a good day so far. My alarm clock went off at 4:15 am and I did not roll over and go back to sleep, then scrambling to meet my running mates at 5am.  I felt alive and maybe too energized as I started my 5-6 mile run, chatting as usual.

Upon returning home to a pot of coffee, and the local Gleaner newspaper stumbled upon the attached article. It is a story about the President of my running club Tanya Miller, a woman who both my husband and I adore being with, and often say we will clone her to share with others. She is truly an inspirational person, who I’m often reminding to take care of herself and not get burned out.

The story was very uplifting, as she is somebody who will attempt anything once and hurdles barriers of what may be considered unacceptable in Jamaican culture. When she shared her personal story about being a farmer with me after her college years, I smiled, because I was also a farmer at one point in my life. I worked on a flower farm part time during my college years and it was one of the better experiences I have had to date.  Today is  indeed a good Jamaican day.

Tanya Miller: No challenge too big, no job too small
Camille Taylor, Contributor

Tanya Miller: “I can’t function well when I’m not challenging myself and solving multiple problems at the same time. Some people have to focus on one thing, I am less effective when I’m focusing on one thing.” – Peta-Gaye Clachar/Staff Photographer

A Senior executive who answers her own phone sparing you the ordeal of doing battle with an over-protective assistant is a rare and refreshing find. Disbelief has you inquiring if this is normal procedure and Tanya Miller quickly responds with an emphatic yes. “I’m hands on,” she tells The Gleaner. “I answer every call, unless I’m in a meeting.”

You would think that the vice-president of marketing and new product development at Pan Caribbean Financial Services would gladly leave such mundane duties to someone else, but that’s not Miller’s style.

In her opinion, no assignment is too big and no task is too small and her only concern with each undertaking is to add value.

This mindset, coupled with her talents, training and skill set, makes Miller seem almost tailor-made for corporate life.

She enjoys a challenge, has a yen for problem-solving, loves to tackle complex projects and spurns inactivity. “I enjoy being occupied,” she says. “I can’t function well when I’m not challenging myself and solving multiple problems at the same time. Some people have to focus on one thing, I am less effective when I’m focusing on one thing.”

In 2006, Miller was hand-picked by CEO Donovan Perkins to head up Pan Caribbean’s Marketing Department, giving her responsibility for the company’s brand strategy, marketing communication, advertising and public relations as well as new product development. Very soon after taking up office, she restructured the Marketing Department and revamped her team’s job descriptions to give each person a more enriched role. She also changed the way the department did business by renegotiating arrangements

With suppliers and making strategic readjustments to advertising spend and other expenditure.

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