Food is an integral part of our lives. And on Thanksgiving, we give thanks with one of the biggest feasts of the year.
Thanksgiving isn’t an official holiday in Jamaica though some Jamaicans who’ve returned home have brought the tradition with them. What we have that’s similar is harvest. At the harvest, members bring produce to their church to receive a blessing from the priest.
These bananas are called honey, because they’re naturally sweet, sweeter than regular bananas. They are also smaller than average bananas, probably a half or two-thirds in size, and are quite popular in Jamaica. Honey bananas sell fast despite the fact that they’re usually more expensive than regular bananas.
These bananas are called green to differentiate them from the yellow ones, which most people are familiar with. Green bananas are boiled and often eaten with steamed fish, ackee and salt fish or other meats. It’s also used to make porridge, dumplings or put in mannish water soup, a soup that is made from the head and intestines and other parts of the goat. It is believed to be an aphrodisiac.
We picked these avocados at the home of one of my cousins. Since they weren’t quite rips, we wrapped them in newspaper to speed up the process.
The breadfruit was brought to Jamaica by Captain William Bligh between 1780 and 1786. Roasted, it is is the perfect accompaniment to ackee and salt fish, our national dish. It can also be eaten boiled, fried, used in soups, and made into chips. For roasting, I prefer them a little ripe or turned. They are a little sweeter and softer. In soups, I prefer them what we call, young, meaning not ripe. Breadfruit can also be referred to as full, ready.
The main ingredient in ackee and salt fish, our national dish, ackee was brought to Jamaica from West Africa. It’s ackee season now and the trees are laden with fruit. Ackees contain a poisonous gas and must be opened before they are picked.
Jamaican cooks and chefs have been experimenting with how they prepare ackee. Moving away from the traditional marriage with salt fish, ackees can be curried, or used in bruschetta and cheesecake.
A bountiful harvest of fruits, vegetables and produce. Happy Thanksgiving!