Top 3 Ways to Enjoy Jamaica's Best Local Flavors

Within the Gates

After finally being able to go on your long-awaited vacation, there is something about checking in at an all-inclusive resort that fades all your over-worked troubles away. From waking up to room service, to round the clock dining, on-resort beaches to cute souvenir shops. It’s all in one spot! And that makes vacationing all the more enticing with the ease of relaxation just at your fingertips.

Our only question is, did you visit the destination or just enjoyed a hotel stay?

For us in the Caribbean, visiting a destination is more than the four walls of your resort. We know that resorts like Iberostar, Hyatt Ziva and Zilara, Round Hill, Sandals and Beaches provide the allure that vacationers want - the best of the islands without the hassle of planning your every move. That’s great but that also means you have paid a significant amount to visit an island priced by the popularity of its culture, only to have never left the gates of your hotel.

Breathe, all is not lost. You don’t have to sacrifice one for the other. Modern day hotels and resorts understand the evolving traveler trends and have made sure that when they say all-inclusive, they really mean all-inclusive.

On resorts, like those we’ve mentioned prior, you can find tour desks that take you beyond the gates of your hotel/resort and into the heart of the island without compromising your decision to be pampered and cared for on your getaway.

Today, we will talk about the most popular Caribbean island and some of the places there that you can visit to savour the taste of the most authentic, local flavors. Pack your suitcases, we are heading to Jamaica!

Beyond the Gates

The Pudding Man

Every destination has their version of street food but in Jamaica we take that to a whole other level. One of our most popular finds on the roadways from one point of the small island to the next, is the most talked about ‘Pudding Man’ in this hemisphere, Edgar Wallace. Ask a local who Edgar Wallace is and they might look at you strange but ask them who the Pudding Man is and watch as their faces light up with tales of a flavorful encounter.

Wallace for years has been serving up his freshly made pastries to all who will have them on the roadways of Priory, St. Ann outside his restaurant, Jus Cool. Quite the opposite to the name of the restaurant, Wallace’s pastries are fresh off the fire (yes, we said fire not oven) and straight onto your tastebuds for a flavorful burst of Jamaican spices.

The Pudding Man makes his pastries the old-time, Jamaican way, that the locals describe as ‘hell a top, hell a bottom, hallelujah in di middle’. That means, the pastries are prepared with fire on the top of the pot, fire beneath the pot and the pudding remaining savoury between the two hot spots.

Only from the Pudding Man In Jamaica can you get the local flavors of sweet potato pudding, cornmeal pudding and saltfish fritters done right!

Roadside Jerk Chicken

Another delicacy you can only find on the roadways of Jamaica is the bonafide Jerk Chicken. You may have heard of the traditional Walkerswood Jamaican Jerk Seasoning or any other jerk seasoning that you can use on your meals to add that jerk flavor. These seasonings are made to capture the taste that our local ‘Jerk Man’ curates in flavor naturally!

These local chefs can be found on almost any road on the island and even so, the secret of the Jerk Man still has us boggled. We can’t put together scotch bonnet pepper, pimento, chicken and meat seasoning, tomato, onions and escallion on an open air ‘Jerk Pan’ the way that these experts do. Because, no matter how close to replication the ready made jerk seasoning may come, nothing beats smelling the aroma of a freshly jerked piece of chicken from the vendors along the way, followed by a savoury bite into the island delicacy.

Coconut Al Fresco

‘Wash off yuh [your] heart’ as the Jamaicans say with a refreshing taste of nature's ready-made coconut water; straight from the husk! Like the Jerk man, the ‘Jelly Man’ can be found along most roadways here on the island.

Watching the Jelly Man work is a whole experience in itself. Watch as he wields a machete - his tool of choice - to carve an opening at the top of your coconut. You turn nature’s cup to your head and refresh yourself in one big drink of the cool waters resting inside the fruit. Once your beverage is finished, the Jelly Man goes at it again and splits your coconut in two, revealing the soft, white flesh of the coconut; ready and waiting for you to delve in!

How do we know you have visited the island? By the famous coconut shot you will take, next to the Jamaican flag.

Jamaica Land We Love

We recommend these local favorites not because we have heard that they are amazing (although we have) but because we have enjoyed them ourselves. Companies like Island Routes understand the importance of supporting our locals; and continue to incorporate these off-the-beaten-path adventures that highlight authentic, native experiences that would otherwise be missed.

As a bonus, here is an experience in Jamaica that you can enjoy while learning how to mix those spices in your pantry to create a flavor that will remind you of a trip well spent on the island.

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