And the Volunteer’s Choice Award for the most outstanding taste in a Cultural series goes to (Drum roll please) JAMAICA!
The volunteers have spoken and they have awarded the most exotic, well-seasoned and simply delicious dishes to Jamaica. Projects Abroad Jamaica has been in operation for three years, hundreds of volunteers have come to Jamaica to volunteer and of course sample our unique and intoxicating culture-they just can’t seem to get enough- especially enough of our food.
Our records, mentally cataloguing the numerous verbal expressions of, “Mmmhh this is really good” and observations helped to reveal the favourites. And in no specific order here are the “Vol’s- Faves”...
...Yes I’d like to try the Juici Patties,” “I wish I could carry some back with me,” are some of the sentiments expressed to support the evidence that Jamaican patties-more specifically “Juici Patties” is a delicious must-have. A Jamaican patty is a pastry that contains various fillings and spices baked inside a flaky shell, often tinted golden yellow with an egg yolk mixture or turmeric. It is made like a turnover but is more savory. As its name suggests, it is commonly found in Jamaica, and is also eaten in other areas of the Caribbean, such as Costa Rica's Caribbean coast. In Haiti, the pastry is thick and crispy, making it essentially a turnover. It is traditionally filled with seasoned ground beef, but fillings can include chicken, vegetables, shrimp, lobster, fish, soy, ackee, mixed vegetables or cheese. In Jamaica, the patty is often eaten as a full meal, especially when paired with coco bread. It can also be made as bite-sized portions called cocktail patties.
Of course the Jerk Chicken made the list, and is soon readily consumed by anticipating volunteers who readily lick the delicious taste from their finger tips. Jamaican Jerk is a style of cooking native to Jamaica in which meats are dry-rubbed or wet marinated with a very hot spice mixture called Jamaican jerk spice. Jerk seasoning is traditionally applied to pork and chicken. Modern recipes also apply jerk spice mixes to fish, shrimp, shellfish, beef, sausage, and tofu. Jerk seasoning principally relies upon two items: allspice (called "pimento" in Jamaica) and Scotch bonnet peppers (among the hottest peppers on the Scoville scale). Other ingredients include cloves, cinnamon, scallions, nutmeg, thyme, garlic, salt, and pepper.
Jerk chicken, pork, or fish originally was smoked over aromatic wood charcoal. Most Jerk dishes in Jamaica are no longer cooked in the traditional method and are grilled over hardwood charcoal in a steel drum jerk pan. The wood ("pimento wood") berries, and leaves of the allspice plant among the coals contribute to jerk's distinctive flavour.
Induction lunches have also revealed two favourites among volunteers namely; Red Peas Soup and Curried Goat.
There was a male volunteer in particular who would consume a bowl of this rich concoction for lunch after dedicating five hours of hard service to his placement. Jamaican Red Peas Soup is a type of soup eaten in the country of Jamaica. It is made of kidney beans (known locally as red peas), seasonings such as scotch bonnet pepper, pimento seeds etc. Red Peas Soup is eaten usually eaten with yam and Jamaican dumplings.
Red Peas Soup
A more daring attempt comes with choosing the curried goat dish- many volunteers shy away from this dish as it brings about a sort of unease- this unease comes from the mental image of eating goat meat, however once the adventurous volunteer gives this dish a try there is no going back as it becomes almost addictive begging you to try it again and again. Jamaican Curried goat is a dish originating in Indo-Jamaican cuisine that has become so popular it is now regarded as being typical of Jamaica. This dish has spread throughout the English speaking Caribbean and also the Caribbean diaspora in North America and Great Britain.
Curry goat is a popular party dish in Jamaica and at a 'big dance' a local expert or 'specialist' is often brought in to cook it. It is considerably more mild than the equivalent dishes from the Indian subcontinent and is flavoured with a spice mix that is typical of Indo-Jamaican cooking and Scotch Bonnet Peppers; it is almost always served with rice and, in restaurants in North America and Great Britain, other typically Caribbean side dishes such as fried plantain may be served as an accompaniment. There are many variations on the dish that include using mutton when goat is not available or bulking it out with potatoes.
Curry Goat Dish
After consuming all that delicious food the volunteers may want to have a little dessert to top off that incredible food experience and they will stroll leisurely to the closest Devon House Ice-cream shop in Jamaica to get their sweet-tooth fix. Devon House Ice Cream offers the deliciously tasting ice-cream in 27 flavours which captures the exotic Jamaican fruit flavours, including bordeaux cherry, rocky river, strong back, devon stout, pistachio, coconut coffee and sour sop.
Devon House Ice-Cream
Can you image a place offering many contradictions in one culturally busy space- Rich versus poor, pleasantly aromatic versus fetid, fast-paced versus a leisurely stroll, the mild-mannered versus the temperamental? If your imagination fails you at such a pivotal moment, let me assist by providing the answer-the Jamaican Marketplace...
Reminiscent of the bazaars of India, the Jamaican market offers consumers the option to purchase various items at a reasonable cost and there is always the option of bargaining. A visit to the typical marketplace in Jamaica will reveal a concretised structure displaying wooden stalls arranged with fresh farmer’s produce, meat produce spices, clothes, household material and almost all other items one can think of. In addition to the wooden stalls there is the market professional who will lay their wares on the ground or walk around with their goods in their hands parcelled out for quick sale.
Saturday mornings by Jamaican tradition was the ideal purchase day- house wives would be on point to catch the fresh produce, walking from vendor to vendor to firstly size up who has the quality goods and secondly who has the cheapest price. Today the market scene has changed somewhat ; the housewife is no longer the main staple in the purchasing of market goods- males, teenagers and the working class woman are now comfortable traipsing from one end of the market to the next to state their claim to being a professional market shopper. Also Saturday has become less of the main market day and you will find shoppers venturing into the market any time of the week (even on Sundays which before was unheard of in Jamaica’s history) and at any time to make their purchases.
Manoeuvring through the Jamaican market space can be a challenge for various reasons. Firstly there is the constant stream of noise; there is constant beckoning from the vendors to get the attention of potential buyers. Entering the market one might hear shouts of, “Nice lady over here,” “Rat poison taste and buy,” “Sale out pon di the yam...”etc. The litany is endless. Also there is the constant flow of traffic; men on hand-carts aggressively push their way through the throng of persons. The smell is also at times unbearable the faint smell of deliciously ripening fruits can be marred by the stench of rotting vegetables, fruits and even the smell of fish and other meat kind can be a turn-off.
Nonetheless Jamaicans venture into the market to get good deals, they are also happy with the quality. The produce is available in the supermarkets, however majority of Jamaicans prefer the market because the prices offered are more reasonable. Also your first market experience is looked upon as a kind of rite of passage, once you have successfully manoeuvred this space and have come away with quality goods and value for money you have had a successful experience. The market is also a cultural space, patois is heavily used here, as such a patois lesson could be had taking a stroll through the market. The Jamaican character comes alive in this uninhibited space, so getting an unscripted feel of the Jamaican people can be best done here. At times no shopping is done; individuals merely walk through this space to reengage their culture and people from a different platform. If you happen to be in Jamaica take a stroll through our marketplace and just enjoy Jamaican life unscripted.
1lb Red Kidney Beans
1lb. Stew Beef
¼ Salt Beef
4 Irish Potatoes
½ lb. Yellow Yam
1 tblsp. Salt
2 stlk. Scallions
2 sprg. Thyme
Scotch Bonnet Pepper
Soak the salt beef overnight in cold water before cooking.
Wash beef products together and then combine with red peas in a 2-quart stock pot, add water, boil ingredients together until cooked thoroughly.
Peel potatoes and cut into four slices each. Do the same for the yellow yam. Add yellow yam and potatoes to the boiling pot.
While the pot is boiling, add salt to taste. This may not be necessary because of the salt beef, but you never know.
Okay, add scallions, thyme and scotch bonnet pepper into the soup.
Don’t allow the scotch bonnet pepper to burst in the soup, or else… Flame on.
Turn the heat to medium; let this delicious soup cook slowly.
Your soup will be ready when the yellow yam is soft.
Summer time is fast approaching and like Danny (John Travolta) who sang about “Summer Nights” in the movie ‘Grease’ Jamaicans have a yummy musical of their own and sing about Summer Fruits. We don’t sing tell me more, tell me more- we sing give me more, give me more. Here is a description of a few of the most popular summer fruits.
Ripe delicious mangoes juicy to the bite, in all sizes and tastes what a delight. You can smell from a mile away the ripeness guaranteed to make your head sway. Oh yes delicious mangoes- past the test by defying rest, don’t stop eating now that’s the riddle to the mango quest.
Jamaican Mangoes - Most mangoes start off with a dark green skin color and develop patches of gold, yellow, or red as they mature. The skin is smooth and encloses yellow to orange flesh that is softly moist and richly flavored. There are hundreds of different varieties of mangoes.
Mr. Naseberry what a strange name almost makes me merry, to think of how sweet you are to eat. Sure to be a treat wash or wipe, a delight when it’s ripe- oh Mr. Naseberry you make so so merry.
Naseberry -. The flesh varies from yellow to shades of brown and sometimes reddish-brown, and may be smooth or of a granular texture. The flavor is sweet and pleasant, ranging from a pear flavor to crunchy brown sugar. Fruits can be seedless, but usually have from 3 to 12 hard, black, shiny, flattened seeds.
Guinep, yep I am always in the mood for my little green-skinned food, nothing else matters my life shatters when I am denied my fruity pleasures.
Guinep - A small, grape-like fruit with a green skin and a large seed surrounded by a thin layer of sweet, fleshy pulp.
Stainy but good, you are an exotic mystery- taste just like life shunning misery, joyous taste to the palette, let me get my wallet, all my money’s worth cause I am sure to get intoxicated on Jackfruit’s juice.
Jackfruit has a hard “spiky” outside shell and the inside fruit is yellowish with a sweet taste and aroma. It contains anywhere from 100 - 500 oval seeds.
Delicate taste, sit and savor- haste certainly makes waste, as this little fruit will surprise you- am I eating rose petals fresh with morning dew? Alas I awake rose apples with pastel hues abound before me; I have eaten all through and through.
Rose Apple - The fruits are 1 - 2 inches wide, almost round or a little longer than wide. When ripe they may be greenish or dull-yellow flushed with pink. The skin is smooth and thin, and the firm flesh yellowish, sweet and rose scented.
Like a painter with his easel and canvas, which creates timeless pieces of art, and the potter with his clay and wheel which moulds reality from basic imagination, so does the Project Officer at his/her craft displaying awesome craftsmanship by bringing out the best in his/her volunteers and creating the ideal symbiosis between placement and volunteer.
At Projects Abroad Jamaica the Project Officers take great care in catering to the needs of the volunteers by making regular placement visits and maintaining consistent communication with volunteers and placement. This is to ensure that volunteers are getting exactly what they signed up for- hands-on experience in the field and contributing to nation building efforts.
On a typical placement visit, the Project Officer for Care Patrina Thomas-Morrison journeyed to the Hanbury Children’s Home to meet with the volunteers and observe them in the field. This day she met up with Camilla Geiger and Amelia Collins, she made a video of them talking about their placement and the work they were involved in. Patrina chatted with them for a few minutes trying to capture by video their expressions about their volunteering experience below is the transcribed version:
Amelia- I am from Australia and I have been volunteering at the Hanbury Children’s Home for one (1) week now. I am enjoying it very much. I would tell persons who are interested in coming to Jamaica to volunteer to be prepared for the difference [cultural difference]. Also, be emotionally prepared to deal with the emotions that come with having to see the children living the life that they do at the orphanage [basic way of living; living away from family members]. Nonetheless the experience is wonderful and I am having a good time.
Camilla- I am from Germany and I am in Jamaica for ten days (10) days. I like the children especially to play with them. Since I have been here my most memorable moment has been travelling to Treasure Beach to swim, just relax on the beach and meet the local people.
It’s really good to observe the relationship between the Project Officer and volunteer/s; it’s good that a Project Officer can find the time to document a volunteer’s pivotal moment - Project Officers help to make the memories that much better and put the entire volunteering experience into perspective. The charge to all Project Officers is to continue doing good work.
I had a great experience travelling to India and Africa for 2 weeks with my church teaching, doing activities and helping the children at various orphanages. After returning to England I started searching for an organization that arranged for volunteers to work abroad for longer periods in children’s homes and orphanages. I was so excited when I found Projects Abroad especially since they had just started a project in Jamaica in April 2008 and I couldn’t wait to go!
My first placement in Jamaica was at New Hope Children’s home for 2 months in June 2008, I was welcomed by Bridgette at the airport and she gave me a history of the areas as we drove through the town and beautiful country-side into the hills of Mandeville to my host family’s home who were very welcoming. The following morning I had an induction with a difference! as I was walked through practicing the route of my journey from the house in 2 taxies to New Hope Children’s home and then around the shops in the town and to the Projects Abroad office then back home.
The first couple of days at New Hope Children’s home were a little overwhelming but fun as the children greeted me excitedly pulling me to come and play with them. Although some days it was hard work teaching and playing with them it was worth every moment when they got excited because they learnt something new or seeing them develop their social skills as they cared for each other also rolling in laughter at the way I spoke! Working with the children taught me how to be more patient they really left an impression on me. It was also fun working with some of the staff and they also taught me
to stop complaining about my work hours back home because their work hours was much longer and sometimes harder than ours in England!
At the end of the afternoons I really enjoyed walking around Mandeville town
centre then sat in the town square eating ice-cream watching & listening to the people! I also loved travelling in the taxi’s because they would pick up or drop off other Jamaican passengers and I would get to see a lot of the houses and in different areas. It was also great meeting other volunteers at the social events that Bridgette arranged especially the BBQ where you would taste a variety of the best Jamaican foods! We would also go on trips at the weekend and out dancing and have a go at karaoke!
A beautiful island, happy people, sunshine, great food, lots to see and places to visit, what better way to have a working holiday! I loved it Sooo much I’ve been back 4 times!
Keep up the great work Bridgette & Co.
Love Joan - from England
The world of Media opens up a kaleidoscopic window of possibilities and opportunities. I guess making this statement to an exclusive generation Y group of individuals may warrant one of those ‘duh’ moments. Excuse me for stating the obvious but there is a point to my seemingly ‘so-obvious’ utterance.
Projects Abroad Jamaica loves these kaleidoscopic windows, so when Television Jamaica (TVJ), the premiere television station in Jamaica, called to say we are invited to appear on the station’s popular morning program, ‘Smile Jamaica- it’s morning time’ for seven minutes to inform the local public about the work of Projects Abroad Jamaica, we naturally took the opportunity.
On April 21, 2011 at exactly 6:20am the Country Director, Dr. Bridgette Barrett- Williams and the Social Media Manager, Denise Morgan appeared on a colourfully well-lit set to herald the work of Projects Abroad Jamaica. Neville Bell and Carlette Deleon were the interviewers who were very surprised to learn of an organization of this kind in small Jamaica.
The Country Director gave the background of Projects Abroad- hundreds of television sets were broadcasting that this United Kingdom based entity was responsible for bringing in hundreds of volunteers from various geographical backgrounds into Jamaica over a three-year period to help with nation building. Also Projects Abroad has set up in twenty six other destinations across the world and promotes the spirit of volunteerism.
The Social Manager spoke about the rich Cultural Exchange that the volunteers are exposed to volunteering in Jamaica. Volunteers were taught how to do the latest Reggae/Dancehall moves; they would definitely learn the popular Patois (local language) and would be taken around the beautiful island to partake in various cultural hot-spots around Jamaica. Also they would be involved in outreach activities, outside of the work done at their respective placements.
The seven minutes seemingly went quickly as there was much still left unsaid about the amazing work volunteers are doing in Jamaica specifically, as well as across the globe courtesy of Projects Abroad Organization. We were invited to come back on the program to finish out, so aptly dubbed by Neville, amazing story.
Our journey continues as we work gradually to promote meaningful work- the world of media is our prime tool as we unveil our wonderful kaleidoscopic offerings-This is generation Y, This is Projects Abroad definitely the future.
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