If you’ve followed me for any length of time you will have picked up on the fact that I don’t cook in Jamaica. There are several reasons for this:
- I don’t even cook in Canada simply because I don’t like cooking. I eat to survive, not because I flourish in a kitchen. This is probably why I’m still single too.
- I’m not very creative and it seems everything I try to cook comes out far less than exciting for the tastebuds.
- I hate the sight and the thought of raw meat so even though I eat meat I can’t prepare it.
- Even though I could be a vegetarian I can’t make veggies taste like a Jamaican can. Straight up.
If you want proof of how a Jamaican can work magic with just vegetables, visit these posts:
Having read and looked at any of those pictures why would I want to cook my own food in Jamaica?
Anyway, this story is about the week that my friend Kemar (also my landlord at the time) and I decided to try a week of being vegetarians in the house.
One day he and I were out and about in separate locations and communicating via text about our vegetarian shopping escapades. I visited the local market and spent the most money I’ve ever spent on just veggies – about $30.00. At a local market in Jamaica you get a LOT of bang for your buck. He was going to pick up even more produce from a person who grew them, on his way home from work.
Our first escapade in the kitchen was exciting for me because I really do love veggies. I agreed to do all the chopping since there was no way I wanted to attempt the cooking. Among everyone in that house Kemar usually did the cooking so I had faith he’d be able to work wonders with our veggie delights.
Our very first vegetarian attempt was a mixture of a little bit of everything, inspired by our dining experience at Gee Wiz restaurant in Treasure Beach. We figured if they can make vegetarian meals taste so good then surely we could work off that and try it ourselves.
Using fresh coconut and papaya for unique flavoring options, we created several dishes throughout the week that were a little different from the day before. We tried everything from ackee, to broad beans, and everything in between and let me tell you I never really craved any meat the whole week even though I’m a fried chicken freak. This just felt like a much cleaner way of eating. Nothing fried, everything cooked in its own natural goodness.
On our last day Kemar scored some fish from a friend so we decided to try our hand at making coconut crusted, fried fish. I’m proud to say that I actually DID help cook this meal and it also turned out pretty great.
At that house we always had friends and neighbors over for dinner and all the meat-eating Jamaicans who tried our veggie dishes were pretty impressed with the flavors. So none of it was a fail.
One thing I’ve learned in Jamaica, especially if you live in a house where you share a kitchen with locals: Jamaicans LOVE being in the kitchen and sharing their creations with everyone. So if you’re happy to contribute to the groceries they’re more than happy to prepare the meals. Another reason why Jamaica is the perfect place for me.