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Jerk Barbecue in Jamaica
Excerpt from Jerk - Barbecue From Jamaica, by Helen Willinsky
Long before pigs in Jamaica were domesticated, Christopher Columbus discovered Arawaks cooking small wild boars over hot coals buried in the ground. Later, the special barbecuing of the pig was confined to Maroon Town, a village on the 7,800 foot high Blue Mountain in the parish of Portland, the home of the former slaves. But over time the Maroons lost their monopoly on barbecuing pork because jerking had become extremely popular. Others took up the method and gradually the practice of jerking found its way down the mountainside until it reached Boston Beach in Port Antonio. This beach is a well known bathing strip a few miles out of Port Antonio, the capital of Portland. It is heavily frequented by people from Kingston, 70 miles away, as well as by a considerable number of tourists.
Undoubtedly, the best jerk on the island is made by the man who has a pit by the side of the road there. It is a corrugated zinc shed, open on all sides, in which 2 pigs are being constantly barbecued, from midmorning to night. The smell, the heat, the pungency, is marvelous. Devotees, most of them in bathing suits, never leave. No matter how long it takes, they wait until the master says "A' ready now" and begins to cut. "How much yo' want? Quarter pound, half pound?" and his long knife begins to slice through the tender meat.
They are devotees, indeed. So hot is the meat, reeking with black pepper, and Scotch bonnet pepper, that it can hardly be eaten. The smallest taste is enough to make the eyes water. The palate can tolerate the fiery substance only after repeated attempts.
Boston Beach jerk pork is the most authentic Jamaican jerk. There are other pits - in Ocho Rios, 60 miles away, in Montego Bay, a further 60, and in Negril, still a further 60, but it is acknowledged that they cannot rival the jerk of Boston Beach. But is you cannot come to Boston Beach, at least you can jerk pork in your own backyard!
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