Thursday, May 10, 2012

When in Jamaica…

Breakfast: pineapple, orange, papaya, otaheite apple and naseberry

If you’ve never been to Jamaica, I highly recommend you go. In addition to sand, sun, great music, a vibrant culture and some of the friendliest people you’ll ever meet, it’s one of the most flavorful foodie experiences you can have in the Caribbean.

Last week my husband and I took some much-needed time off from work to celebrate our wedding anniversary in Jamaica. Having gone for our honeymoon, we were far less timid this time around and wasted no time seeking out the best that Jamaica has to offer. But it turns out we may have been in the minority in our approach.

Jamaican jerk and Red Stripe
Though we mostly kept to ourselves on the resort, we got to chatting with some other Americans during a group dining event. Being that food is always top-of-mind for me, I started sharing about all of the interesting dishes we had tasted and asked about their food experiences. With puzzled looks, they said that they had preferred not to try anything that was unfamiliar and instead were sticking with the more American-style fare the resort offered.

Though not entirely shocking, their statements bothered me for the rest of the trip and still bother me now. I hardly expect to travel in the United States and get the same foods everywhere. Part of being a contemplative carnivore, and frankly eating the freshest and best quality food, is to eat like the locals eat. This means when I’m in Maine I eat lobster and blueberries, when I’m in Georgia I eat peaches and turnip greens, and when I’m home in Washington I eat cherries and salmon. So the thought of going to a foreign country and expecting to eat food from my home country is beyond strange to me.   

Curried goat
While they ate their canned peaches and steaks and other fairly boring foods, we fueled up on flavorful and interesting items like jackfruit, naseberry, mammee apples, otaheite apples, bammy, curried goat, red snapper, conch soup and Jamaican jerk. Not only was this couple missing out on some seriously delicious food, but they were also missing out on an opportunity to make a more sound decision when it came to the local environment and animal welfare.

So, the next time you’re heading to a new location, whether it’s halfway around the world or just the neighboring state, remember to eat local. You’ll expand your palette, eat fresher, support the local economy and help the environment. And you’ll avoid having people like me blog about you. ;)
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