The Spanish influence on Jamaican Food

By Phin Upham

If you want to make something healthy, that’s really thinking outside the box, try making yourself Jamaican food. Rich in flavor and notably healthy, Jamaican food utilizes a lot of meats and produce, plus the coffee you’ll have after is among the best cups available in all the world. The cuisine of this place is influenced heavily by the Spanish, with some ties to English cooking as well.

Spain arrived in Jamaica in 1509, bringing contemporary technology and an inclination to drive out the native Arawak Indians. The Spanish also brought slave labor with them from various trips they’d taken around the world. Spices, cooking techniques and recipes came from all over the world to mix on Jamaican soil. Today, people who order “Escoveitch Fish” in Jamaica have the Spanish Jews to thank. The island had plenty of fresh produce to sustain life there, and the cuisine was well-flavored thanks to fertile lands and fattened livestock.

When Spain lost Jamaica to the English in 1655, they brought dishes like the Jamaican pattie. The pattie is a lot like a pupusa with a flakier crust, a kind of wrap that is colored golden with a baked egg yolk coating over the top. The English also maximized the island’s potential to produce sugar through the establishment of plantations.

Laws that changed the slave trade and made it forbidden brought a lot of foreigners seeking opportunity to Jamaica. One of the foremost regions was East India. Their rich and spicy food is a staple in Jamaican cuisine. In Jamaica, almost everything can be made into a curry.


Phin Upham is an investor from NYC and SF. You may contact Phin on his Phin Upham website or Twitter page.

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