Reggae Riddims – The Foundation of Reggae Music


What is a reggae “riddim?”

“Riddim” is the Jamaican Patois term for the instrumental “rhythm” track of a song, also known as the “groove” or the “beat”. Jamaican popular songs, and many other types of Caribbean music, are built on riddims.

Riddims usually consist of a prominent bass line and a particular unique drum pattern and are truly the backbone of dub, reggae, lovers’ rock, ragga, roots, dancehall, etc. Many riddims originate from a hit song and the riddim carries the name of the song, for example I-Wayne’s 2004 hit “Lava Ground” on the Lava Ground Riddim. Or, in some cases, the riddim takes the name of the most popular song recorded on it. For example, the Satta Massagana Riddim is named after The Abyssinians’ original song “Satta Massagana”.

Occasionally, an artiste will voice two completely different songs on the identical riddim. And it’s very common for different artistes to voice over the same riddims with different lyrics and different vocal styles, ranging from singing to toasting. For example, Jah Cure’s “Call On Me”, Gyptian’s “Butterfly”, and Tanya Stephens’ “Reminiscing” are all on 2009’s wonderful Good Love Riddim. The success of a riddim is judged by how many artistes “juggle” it, or make their own vocal interpretations of it. Jamaican audiences will judge whether or not the tune is big and, if so, other artistes will write new lyrics to “ride the riddim”.

There can be more than a dozen popular current riddims, but there are usually only a few “hot” riddims at any given time. Artistes have to record over these hot riddims if they want a better shot at getting their songs played in the dancehalls or on the radio. Many times a dance is even created in honor of the riddim, like Pepperseed, or Gully Creeper, or who can forget the world’s fastest man Usain Bolt’s victory dance, “Nah Linga”?!!

The riddims don’t always originate from reggae; some urban contemporary songs may become riddims as well. The instrumental of Ne-Yo’s “Miss Independent” has become a popular riddim; many dancehall artists have recorded songs using the track. Other songs have inspired riddims too, such as George Michael’s song “Faith,” which became a riddim of the same name, and R. Kelly’s “Snake,” which became the Baghdad Riddim.

Types of riddims

Riddims are African in origin and are generally one of three types. The oldest, the “classical” riddim, provides the instrumentals for dub, roots reggae and lovers’ rock (well known producers include Sly & Robbie). The “ragga” riddim backs (or used to back) raggamuffin and dancehall songs. And “digital” riddims (e.g., King Jammy’s Sleng Teng Riddim) are created with computers, synthesizers and drum machines; in other words, they are really electronic riddims.

The advent of technology changed the entire business. No longer do you need to pay for studio time and hire musicians! This opened up the business to a whole new generation of producers, musicians and performers. Today, most riddims backing dancehall and Soca are digital. Digital riddims, along with the global reach and popularity of dancehall, have also spawned the creation of more and more popular riddims outside Jamaica.


“Versioning” is the term for recycling or rejuvenating old riddims using computers and samplers, and voicing over them with new artistes. Jamaica has been versioning since the 1960s. Some of these riddims are decades old, many of them coming out of Clement “Coxsone” Dodd’s renowned Kingston studio, Studio One. Some great riddims came out of Studio One in the ’60s and ’70s, and you will still hear them versioned in constant rotation by sound systems today.

Versioning can be controversial, however, because many of those who produced the original classic riddims never got paid for the riddims themselves. It would be nice to get some “royalties”!! But today’s artists argue that they’re inspired by these classics and paying respect by versioning and re-popularizing them. Many Jamaican producers rely heavily on versions although, in the past decade, we saw less of this practice with hundreds of creative new riddims being released.

The explosion of dancehall in recent years generated many great new riddims. But some are already being versioned as well. The Unfinished Business Riddim, popular in 2008, was a version of 1998’s hit Showtime Riddim. So it seems old riddims never die!


Of course, creating a new and original riddim is far more difficult than versioning an old one! Here are some of the best original riddim producers from the past & present: Black Chiney (sound system, DJ, producer), Bobby “Digital B” Dixon (producer), Clement “Coxsone” Dodd (producer, Studio One records), Donovan Germain (producer, Penthouse Studio), Joe Gibbs (producer), King Jammy (dub mixer, producer), King Tubby (dub mixer, producer 1960s-1980s), Duke Reid (producer, Treasure Isle records, dominated the 1960s), Sly and Robbie (producers, Taxi Records), Steely & Clevie (producers).

Two of the hottest young producers of the new millennium share a surname but are not related. Stephen “Di Genius” McGregor, son of veteran singer Freddie McGregor, can boast of one of my favorite dancehall riddims of recent years, the Tremor Riddim (2007), voiced by Mavado (“Amazing Grace”), Sean Paul (“Watch Them Roll”), and others. This talented musician’s riddims are so popular that more than a dozen people might voice over each of them.

The other young star producer is Kemar “Flava” McGregor, who is responsible for some of the hottest hits in recent years and, in my opinion, the very best roots reggae riddims to come out of Jamaica (or the world, for that matter) in years, for example: 2005’s Triumphant Riddim (Gyptian’s “Mama Don’t Cry”), 2007’s 83 Riddim (Richie Spice’s “Ah No Me Dat” & Queen Ifrica’s “Daddy”), and 2010’s Classic Riddim (Pressure’s “Thinking About You”, Duane Stephenson & Ras Shiloh’s “Soon As We Rise”), and Sweet Riddim (Etana’s “Happy Heart”, Beres Hammond’s “See You Again”, Ginjah’s “Prayer”). I love the wide mix of artistes voicing his riddims – veterans and novices alike – definitely something to appeal to everyone. These two producers are out in front of Jamaica’s current hitmakers!

For me, it’s the smooth reggae beats that get me grooving and swaying; for others it’s the hard bass lines they enjoy on the dancehall floor. No matter your preference, riddims are reggae music’s foundation! Enjoy!

Public Nuisance, Trespass and Dispossession of Land

Public Nuisance

A public nuisance is same unlawful act or emission which endangers the lives, safety or comfort of the public generally or of some section of the public, or by which the public or some section of it are obstructed in the exercise of a common right. Thus if a person erects a factory which emits foul smelling smoke from its chimneys and this smoke spreads over a large area causing discomfort he commits a public nuisance, for all persons in the area will be affected by it. This also true for Jamaica beach property where companies might pollute the beach causing owners nuisance for enjoying their surroundings.

Similarly if a person causes an obstruction on the public highway he thereby prevents the public from exercising their right to pass and re-pass along the highway and so commits a public nuisance.

The remedy for a public nuisance is either:

1. Criminal proceedings

2. An action by the Attorney General of Jamaica on behalf of the public for an injunction to restrain the public nuisance.

But if an individual can show that he has suffered damage beyond that suffered by the public generally he will be entitled to bring an action for damages in respect of the public nuisance. In other words, the public nuisance becomes, in so far as it causes particular injury to an individual, a private nuisance actionable at his suit. But he must show that the damage he has suffered is different in kind and not merely degree from that suffered by the public generally.

Thus, as we have seen, to obstruct the Jamaican highway is to commit a public nuisance, but this nuisance will not be actionable at the suit of a person who is merely prevented from using the highway for the ordinary purpose of passage, for his damage is the same as that suffered by other members of the public.

Moreover, it makes no difference that he is accustomed to use the highway to a greater extent than the remainder of the public. That is a mere matter of degree. But if he sustains personal injuries by, say, tripping over the obstruction, or if the obstruction prevents him from using his private right of way from adjoining land to the highway, he will have suffered damage of a kind peculiar to himself and will be entitled to sue in respect of it.


Trespass to Jamaica land may be committed by:

1. Unauthorized entry on land in the possession of some other person.

2. Remaining on such land after some right to do so have ceased.

3. Causing some object to enter on the land.

Three Common Facts of Trespass

1. Trespass is not a criminal offense.

2. A person who trespasses on the land of another is liable even though he was entirely unaware that he was trespassing and mistake is no defense.

3. Trespass is actionable without proof of damage.

This is another situation that is cause for great concern to Jamaica real estate owners. Let us assume that a person wonders on Jamaica treasure beach house for sale, they become a trespasser as their entry is “unauthorized”.


If a person is given possession of land, for example, by a Jamaica beach lease for 21 years, he does not commit a trespass by remaining on the land after his right to possession has expired; it is the wrong of dispossession, which consists of wrongfully depriving a person of possession of land, either by wrongfully taking possession or by wrongly withholding possession, after a lawful right to possession has ended. So both the tenant and landlord can cause dispossession.

Title of the Plaintiff

Trespass is an interference with the possession of land, and the person entitled to sue is the person in possession, for example, of rented property, the tenant has to sue, unless the landlord can prove that the trespasser has caused some damage to his reversionary interest.

Remedies for Trespass

1. Damages

2. Injunction

3. Forcible ejection: no more force than is reasonably necessary and the trespasser must be given the opportunity to leave peaceably.

It is important to understand how these affect Jamaica real estate and property sales. If trespass and nuisance are common place for a some Jamaica homes for sale it should be the moral responsibility of the vendor, but the onus is on the purchaser to conduct due diligence before buying any property.

Life Insurance For People Over 80

If you are 80 years old up to age 85, there are a few companies that will offer you life insurance, so long as you are in good health. Due to the high cost of premiums, most people that fit into this age bracket typically buy a small policy to cover burial and funeral expenses. This is usually between $5,000.00 and $15,000.00.

The average cost of a funeral in the United States is approaching $7,000.00.

Seniors today are living longer and longer, so you should expect that the price of burial and final expenses will continue to rise over the next decade. Everything always seems to go up in price, year after year. Therefore, when choosing the amount of coverage to purchase, you should take into consideration that although a reasonable funeral costs $7,000.00 today, five years from now it may be $8,000.00 or more.

Be Cautious.

Do not cancel any policy that you already have, nor should you allow any insurance agent to talk you into replacing any policy that you have with a new one. Insurance agents get paid on a commission and there are some that are looking out for their commission check more than they are looking out for you. So be cautious and protect the investments and policies that you already have in force.

For example, if you have a $5,000.00 policy already, do not cancel that policy to get a $7,000.00 policy. Only buy a $2,000.00 policy to add to the $5,000.000 policy that you have. I would advise any client to only add to and not replace any policy that they have been paying on for years.

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Grace Canned Mackerel

Canned mackerel is one food that is eaten by many Jamaicans. It comes in three sizes. It was one of the cheapest protein foods in Jamaica but due to the rise it cost of living its cost has been slowly rising. The food is a good source of protein and calcium; the bones are processed soft enough to be eaten.

Mackerel in tomato sauce is the favorite of many Jamaicans.

Although it is also canned in brine or oil the one in tomato sauce is the one that makes Grace money because Jamaicans love very spicy foods. The Jamaican sea water do not have enough of this type of fish for processing so the fish is imported but it is prepared and packed in Jamaica.

Sometimes in life many grand things are born out of hardship and such is this special mackerel recipe. My son is a lover of meat and on Sundays it had to be beef or chicken but his first choice is beef.

This particular Sunday I faced a dilemma I had no meat and no money to buy any. I determined that I was going to serve rice and peas, potato salad a fresh toss vegetable salad, canned mackerel and a fruit drink and my son was going to eat it and would not know it was not meat

This is how this great mackerel recipe was born. It was so good and he loved it. I decided I would share it with the world. I have not even given it a name as yet however by the time I am finished with this article I hope to come up with one if not you can have the pleasure of giving it a name.


1. 1 large canned mackerel in tomato sauce

2. 1 Tbsp. fish sauce

3. 1 large onion finely chopped

4. 4 clove garlic finely diced

5. ½ scotch bonnet pepper

6. 1 Maggie beef bullion

7. 1 tbsp. soy sauce

8. ¼ tsp. rosemary

9. ¼ tsp. thyme leaves

10. ¼ tsp. black pepper

11. 2 egg whites

12. ½ cup flour

13. !/2 tsp vinegar

14. 1cup oil


Drain the tomato sauce from off the mackerel and set aside for sauce

Use a fork and flake the mackerel until fine.

Add all the ingredients except the flour and oil and stir.

Add the flour a little at a time until you get a firm dough that can be shaped

Break off a piece of the dough flatten to 1/4 inch thick and shape into 3 x 4 ½ inch

It should look like beef stakes. Roll into flour and fry until golden brown.

Use up the rest of the dough until you have at least 10- 12 of the mocked beef mackerel stakes.

If you do not mind the taste of the mackerel you can use the tomato sauce you strained off to make the sauce.

But if you are really trying to disguise the mackerel begin your sauce from scratch by using

1 tbsp. flour,

1 tsp. butter,

Cook over a low fire.

Add some ¼ cup garlic tomato paste.

Add one cup boiling water stir

Season to taste with salt, celery, thyme.

Pour over the mackerel and serve.

Garnish with thick sauté onions slices and scotch bonnet peppers.

Serve 4-5 persons

Pizza – The 3 Best Cheeses For Pizza

While many people add cheese to their pizza because it seems strange to leave it out, the truth is cheese can make or break the pizza. Remember those slices of pizza when you were a kid? You would take a bite and long, stretchy strings of cheese would reach between your mouth and the slice held halfway across the table by your hand as you tried to get the strings to break. That was great cheese, was not it? You can do this at home and let your kids enjoy the same pizza experience.


Mozzarella is the pizza cheese of choice. Before you pick up just any block of mozzarella at the store, look at it. Most mozzarella you see at the store is low fat or skim. Look for whole milk mozzarella if you want that stretchy, creamy flavor. Mozzarella is a fresh cheese that is only aged less than a day. Get the freshest mozzarella you can find; it will be sold in a brine. Low moisture mozzarella can be kept for up to a month in the refrigerator, but it lacks some of the creaminess of fresh mozzarella.


Provolone cheese is also creamy and melts well. You can get it made plain or smoked. Choose the smoked if you want to add that extra little punch to your flavor. It has more flavor than mozzarella, yet it blends beautifully with it. Traditional provolone is aged a minimum of four months to develop its flavor.


Get a good chunk of real Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. It should feel hard. Grate it yourself. Pre-grated parmesan cheese has nowhere near the flavor that this cheese has when you grate it yourself. The nutty, rich flavor adds depth to the mozzarella and provolone cheeses. Parmesan cheese should be aged between 2 to 3 years.

Blending these three cheeses produces a delicious pizza with stretchy cheese full of flavor. Herbs are traditionally sprinkled on to add seasoning. Good herbs for a cheese pizza include rosemary, oregano, thyme, basil, and sage. You can use fresh herbs or dried, but fresh herbs look nicer on the pizza. Chop them finely before sprinkling over the cheese to bake in the oven. If you want to add full basil leaves, add them after the pizza comes out of the oven.

Negril Jamaica – A Brief Introduction to the Famous Beach and Resort Town

For decades vacationers have made Negril, Jamaica their destination of travel. Couples have come to enjoy the freedom it has to offer, while families have enjoyed its beauty and fun activities. Here is a brief introduction to place they have fallen in love with.

Negril is located in two parishes in Jamaica. It is located in both Hanover and in Westmoreland on the western tip of Jamaica. Negril is also conveniently located about 2 hours (50 miles) from the Donald Sangster Airport in Montego Bay. This is actually the closest international airport to Negril.

Negril, Jamaica (Negrillo as named by the Spanish in 1494) is known for its long stretch of beach and its resorts. Some of the famous resorts of note in Negril are Grand Lido, Hedonism II, and Couples. Other popular resorts along the long stretch of Seven Mile Beach include Sandals Negril Jamaica and Beaches. There are about 25 different resorts located off of Seven Mile Beach. Negril is also known and remembered for its nude swimming and sun bathing on the beach which is clearly identified by signs which say “Swimsuits Optional”. Regardless of whether or not you are comfortable with that type of freedom, there is something for everyone in Negril.

Seven Mile Beach is known for its white sandy beaches. It is parallel to Norman Manley Blvd. which is the main highway leading into Negril from Montego Bay. The cliff area in Negril is considered more private than some other parts of the beach. This area has good scuba diving, snorkeling, cliff jumping and just a fantastic place to relax. Negril is a great deal of fun and has a bit of everything for couples and families.

For more on this exciting Jamaican destination, see our Negril page [].

Satisfying the Jamaica Wedding Requirements

Its rather easy to satisfy Jamaica wedding requirements. So easy that in fact, it simply takes a day to get the marriage license and have your Jamaica wedding provided the prior application has been made.

Acquiring the license for a Jamaica wedding calls for the couple to present certified copies of their birth certificates with their fathers name or copy of Adoption documents (If any member was adopted) reflecting a name change, in addition if either party was previously married, notarized copy or original Certificate of Divorce or the death certificate of the dead spouse must be presented. Also needed are legal translation of documents to English where originals are in different language. A easy step to comply with in the Jamaica marriage requirements process.

Satisfying the wedding requirements in Jamaica does not need a blood test, enabling you to have your wonderful wedding in Jamaica just 24 hours after arriving, To obtain information on getting a Jamaican marriage license contact

The Ministry of Justice

Mutual Life Building North Tower & NCB Towers

2 Oxford Road

Kingston 5

Telephone: (876)906-2414 – 7

You can visit their websites at:

Marriage officers are available throughout the island and information may be requested through the:

Registrar Generals Department

Twickenham Park

St. Catherine

Tel: (876) 984 3041 5

Fax:(876) 749 6457

You can visit their websites at:

Each Marriage Officer may have their different costs and requisites; however the process remains basically the same. Be sure to discuss all details with your marriage officer. You will be required to send copies of all documents. This should be sent by courier to the Marriage Officer, though more expensive its more reliable and definitely faster than ordinary post. The Marriage Officer will fill out the required forms and arrange all documents. They can also arrange for the wedding ceremony to take place in a church or at a location of your choice. Marriages may be conducted every day of the week.

Please do not forget to bring the ORIGINAL documents with you. This is very important, or else all the arrangements for fulfilling the Wedding requirements for Jamaica would be nothing! Following the wedding ceremony, you will be given a copy of the Marriage Register which demonstrates proof of marriage. This is signed by the Marriage Officer, yourselves and your witnesses. (Dont worry; you don’t have to bring your own with you!) The Marriage Register is NOT a legal document and cannot be used to conduct any business! Its more like a receipt to say you got married. You must obtain a certified copy of your marriage certificate.

The Marriage Certificate may be applied for by the marriage Officer and takes between 7 working days to 1 month to be processed by the Registrar Generals Department in Jamaica (address appears above). You may also apply for it yourself and there is also an express service available. You can also apply online at the Registrar Generals Department website. Ask your Marriage Officer or the hotel wedding coordinator who can aid and advise you.

If your country’s spoken language is not English, then your documents must be legalized by your Embassy which stands for your government in Jamaica. That is after the original Marriage Certificate for your marriage in Jamaica is issued by the Jamaican Government, the certified copy is sent to the Marriage Officer who forwards this with your address to your Embassy. Only after being legitimatized by your Embassy the marriage process in Jamaica is done and your marriage established as a legal union in your home country.

While these are the marriage requirements in Jamaica you don’t need to do all this yourself. You can employ the help of a wedding planner whether privately hired or supplied by your hotel.

The Lowdown on Adults Only Resort Vacations

You’ve heard about sinfully tempting adults only resort vacations on romantic tropical Jamaica with their clothing-optional beaches and pool areas, and their nonstop sports, playing, and partying scene all day every day. You’ve wondered if maybe the reality could possibly be as true as the dream. Well, rest assured that the dream will come true if you want it to, whether you are the shy and timid type or bold and brassy because hedonistic vacations are custom-designed to make everyone feel good. Negril Beach and Runaway bay are home to the most famous of the hedonistic resorts. You wake up in the morning in your au natural, garden view suite. The luxurious all inclusive dreamscape offers unlimited gourmet dining and drinks at a choice of venues as well as entertainment, partying, and dancing every night, a vast variety of water and land sports from scuba diving, snorkeling, and sailing, to championship golf tennis, and squash. And, the most beautiful beaches in the world (both clothing-optional and traditional).

A hedonism resorts vacation for singles lets you stay up all night and sleep in the next day. Give up on counting calories and enjoy the gourmet cuisine of your dreams, all included. You can have a free drink whenever you want to, go partying and skinny-dipping and be naughty or nice. There are lots of fun organized activities from group sports and adventures every day to themed parties every night which quickly turn strangers into friends. The best part is that everything is included in just one upfront price so that you never have to think about money. Tips are not allowed. The only thing you’ll have to worry about is what to do next.

If you are looking for the hedonism experience par excellence, for an extra price you can enjoy a variety of luxury services like peppermint manicures and pedicures to stimulate and relax your hands and feet as they are soothed and moisturized. Or, you can invigorate your body and mind and tease your senses with a mint chocolate body massage. This decadent delight awakens your all your senses with its aromatic stimulation. You can relax with your babe in a bubble bath in your own private Jacuzzi-style Roman tub, lit all around with aromatherapy candles to enhance the romance. You can invite your significant other on a romantic date to a beautiful remote beach to picnic on delectable hors d’oeuvres, tropical sandwiches, and champagne. The romantic at heart can walk a trail of delicate rose petals leading from the front door to your bed, there to find waiting a bottle of chilled champagne and a bowl of sensuous, chocolate-dipped fruits. The hard-core Kama Sutra set can enjoy a hedonistic, tantra-lizingly sexy collection of scented massage oils, with delicious chocolate-covered body whipped cream to create the erotic adventure of a lifetime. If you are still dubious about whether an all inclusive adult vacation is for you, on your next trip to Jamaica you can just book a day or night pass to visit a hedonism resort and get a taste of the adventure. Daring day passes and naughty night passes offer all the activities of a world in which practically anything goes, all expenses included.

Sugar Mummies Portrays Female Sex Tourism at a Jamaica All Inclusive Resort

A controversial play which recently opened on London’s West End examines the issue of the sex tourism in Jamaica which attracts flocks of lonely women looking for flings with young black men. Are these sex holidays sleazy or merely harmless romantic vacations? London’s Royal Court Theatre – often a venue for controversy – is staging playwright Tanika Gupta’s Sugar Mummies, starring Lynda Bellingham as one of four middle-aged women who come to Jamaica to try out male prostitutes. And, there is oodles and oodles of sex in the play. Even before Sugar Mummies opened it ignited a hot debate about female sex tourism: is it merely harmless fun – a mutually-beneficial business transaction? Or, is it rank exploitation – and if so, of whom and by whom? Are the victims the women who believe declarations of true love; or are the victims the poor, unemployed young men who make them? Why should female sex tourism be viewed in a different light than male sex tourism, which is often characterized as being sleazy male chauvinist piggery? And does Sugar Mummies perpetuate a racist myth of hyper-sexual black men?

The play takes place against the backdrop of a Jamaica all inclusive resort at Negril Beach, where hero Leroy explains that for the gigolos, it’s an easy and fun way to make money; and for the women it’s some “real good lovin'”. The English ladies who come to Negril complain that the men back home are cold, selfish, uncomplimentary, and mechanical; the gigolos know how to make ladies feel good. Besides, everyone in Jamaica is poor, and the lonely English ladies seem like millionaires by comparison. The gigolos don’t charge a set price – they are not prostitutes, really. There is a tacitly agreed-upon, but mutual, deception which underlies a client-gigolo relationship. Payment is never mentioned since this would destroy the illusion that she is the most gorgeous woman he has ever met, and that he is madly in love with her. But after charming their woman and offering to be their guides, the gigolos set about extracting as much money as they can – sometimes in subtle ways.

Sugar Mummies opens on two 22-year old gigolos, Leroy and Sean, who spot two forty-something white women who have just arrived. Leroy warns them against Jamaican men, who will try to hassle them and rip them off. Apparently genuinely concerned for the women’s well-being, he and Sean offer to show them around and look after them. The women protest that they are so old, but Leroy replies “You ageless. In Jamaica real men like the cat – not the kitten. Mature, beautiful women like you.” The men are funny, and very complimentary; and the women figure “What the hell – you only live once.” Lynda Bellingham is excellent in the role of Maggie, a tragic, broken woman who is a habitual adult vacation sex tourist. Playwright Gupta explains that her purpose was to explore why these women feel so lost that they must pay for affirmation. The humor arises from the pathos of sad, middle-aged women believing that beautiful, twenty year old men have really fallen in love with them at first sight. Sugar Mummies is raunchy, steamy, and very funny.

Yea Mon – Jamaican Cuisine

The cuisine of Jamaica is definitely unique and quite flavourful, bringing with it a blend of the island’s local harvest and spice. The island’s food is represented by Jamaica’s motto, “Out of Many, One People”. Jamaican inhabitants have come from around the globe, including the British, Dutch, French, Spanish, East Indian, West African, Portuguese and Chinese, who brought with them their own unique cooking techniques, flavours, and spices, blending them with the island’s bountiful harvest.

The original inhabitants of Jamaica were the Arawak Indians, who died out after the arrival of the Spanish in 1509, due to disease and overwork. The Spanish then began importing slaves from Africa to replace their workforce. The Spanish brought with them their own culinary influence. As well, many Spanish Jews also arrived during the Spanish rule and contributed their influences to Jamaica’s cuisine, such as a dish still popular today, escovitch fish.

In 1655 the English took over Jamaica from the Spanish and turned much of the land into sugar plantations. The English influenced the development of one of Jamaica’s most popular foods, the Jamaican Pattie, a spiced meat turnover that is the equivalent of the island’s hamburger. Many varieties of Jamaican patties are found in many grocery freezers today.

A century later, indentured labourers of Chinese and East Indians replaced the African slaves after emancipation. These immigrants influenced the curry dishes that grace nearly every Jamaican menu today, such as curry goat, chicken and seafood.

A point of interest is in the Jamaica population of the Maroons. The Maroons are people descendant of escaped slaves of the Spanish, fierce fighters who took to the hills and were never recaptured. They settled in a remote hilly region south of Montego Bay in Cockpit Country. The Maroons now live in a completely self-sustained existence off the land are known as the island’s greatest herbalists.

As seen from above, Jamaica’s food is influenced by its history. “Bammie”, a toasted flat cake eaten with fried fish today, was made from the cassava grown by the Arawaks. The Maroons, slaves who were always on the run, devised a way of “jerking” meat (through spicing and slow cooking pork) that is popular in Jamaica today. Breadfruit, yams, root vegetables and ackee were brought from Africa to cheaply feed the slaves. It is said the breadfruit arrived with Captain William Bligh on the Bounty. And, as mentioned, the Chinese and East Indians brought with them their contributions of exotic flavours in their curry and other spices.

Added to the contributions of the foreign influences, indigenous vegetables, such as cho-cho (a squash-like vegetable) and callaloo (similar to spinach) are also popular in Jamaican cooking today, along with the island’s fruits of bananas, coconuts, mangoes and pineapples. Among the more exotic fruits popular in Jamaica are guineps, pawpaw, sweetsops and the star apple.

The native pimento tree brings allspice to many Jamaican dishes, as do ginger, garlic, nutmeg, and the Scotch Bonnet peppers, which are considered some of the hottest peppers on earth. The Scotch Bonnet is essential to making the jerk pork, chicken and fish for which Jamaica is famous. The Maroons marinated meat for hours in a mixture of peppers, pimento seeds, scallion, thyme and nutmeg, and then cooked it slowly over an outdoor pit lined with pimento wood. Jerk stands can be found all over the island today offering tourists and inhabitants alike the unique spicy flavour famous all over the world.

Negril, located on Jamaica’s western shore, is famous for its “hippie” era. Hippies set up a colony there and enjoyed a laid-back lifestyle and “ganja”. From here, vegetarian meals abound.

Middle Quarters, an area of the south coast, offers dried peppered shrimp which is sold by the bag. Stamp and Go (saltfish fritters eaten as an appetizer) and mackerel Run-Down (pickled fish cooked in seasoned coconut milk until the fish just falls apart or literally “runs down”), as well as boiled green bananas and yams are served over the whole island.

Jamaica is also quite famous the world over for its Blue Mountain coffee, which gets its name from the Blue Mountains where the coffee beans are grown. The coffee industry in Jamaica began in 1725, when the governor brought seedlings from Martinique and planted them on his estate. Mountains cover approximately four-fifths of Jamaica, with the Blue Mountains reaching a height of 7,400 feet. The coffee is planted on terraces along the mountain slopes, 1,500 to 5,000 feet above sea level, and which is often shaded by avocado and banana trees.

Jamaica’s national dish is saltfish and ackee, an island breakfast dish. Ackee, when cooked looks and tastes much like scrambled eggs. Ackee is poisonous until it is ripe and is always served cooked.

Rice ‘n peas is also a popular island dish, but is not really peas but beans (usually red kidney beans.) Other favourite Jamaican dishes include red pea soup (again kidney beans, salted pig tails, beef and vegetables), hard dough bread, fish tea (a fish bouillon), Johnny cakes (fried or baked breads), mannish water (a spicy soup made from goats’ heads), bulla (a spicy bun), stew peas (a soup of red peas or gungo peas), Solomon Gundy (an appetizer made of pickled fish) and festival (a type of bread).

As one can see, Jamaica offers a vast variety of dishes influenced by the island’s history. From British, Spanish, African, East Indian and Chinese, the cuisine of Jamaica is quite flavourful and often spicy, and is a culinary experience that all will enjoy.