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Roadside Food

The other side of Jamaican cooking is rarely discussed when a conversation about our food comes up, generally speaking. Rarely do we ever asked an invited guest to try to enjoy a piece of the out door ‘nyammings’, you know. So because of that, most of us, in an attempt to hide or make less the importance of roadside food, simply do not write about it or even mention it in the company of outsiders, back in the days.

And in days gone by some people would not eat roadside food because of their prejudice against some of the ‘culinary experts’ that were preparing the food by the roadside. If you get the picture, let’s say they, the ‘culinary experts’, were not always properly attired and their customer service was off-and-on based upon the day of the week, or the weather for that matter.

But times have changed and some of the roadside foods have now taken center stage nationally and internationally. If you do not know, Jerk , which is still the queen of the roadside foods, is now tamed and served with other condiments across the world in different kinds of eating establishments such as, Bistros, Sports Bars, fine dining establishments… you name it. But still… it is roadside food, Yah Mon.

Well some of the other roadside foods that may not graduate to the fine halls of the inside kitchens are, ‘roast yam with saltfish’, ‘roast corn’, ‘roast (sweet) potato’, ‘steam roast fish,’ and so many more foods that this e-zine doesn’t have enough space to mention them. However if you ever get that feeling to move away from the regular day to day cooking, you should try a little of your own roadside style of cooking sometimes. Oh yeah!

A few things to remember about roadside foods, too, is that you are not going to make a dish for the faint-of-hearted goody-two-shoes types. And, if you are going to try to make a meal fit for a king, tell the noble bastard before you make the meal that this fare will be a little bit different, cool? The reason why I say this is when you make roadside food, you are flying by the seat of your pants, or pantyhose, so to speak. Another thing is, some cooking rules get thrown out the window regarding your flame source…so remove your usual thinking.

The people who make roadside foods in Jamaica don’t usually give out their recipe secrets to any old Tom, Dick, and Harry. If you travel along the north coast, you may eat a roast corn from vendors in close proximity and get that taste that can’t be compared. The very next day if you try to get the same thing you may be disappointed.

I have read magazine articles written by visitors to Jamaica who find the practice of cooking outdoors on the side of the road, most peculiar. The strangest thing is, no one ever complains about the taste. No Mon!

Alright, let s do some roadside food.

Roast Corn

4 Corns (with skin on)

Get three stones and a piece of fine chicken wire. Place the three stones equal distances apart in a circle.

Add some pieces of firewood in between the stones and light them with a match or lighter. Allow the wood to burn into coal cinders. The reason for this is you don’t want the corn to roast on a flame; the flame will burn the corn kernels and you won’t enjoy eating the corn on the cob.

Ok, put the chicken wire on the three stones and add the corns. Turn the corns periodically to make sure that the heat will evenly penetrate them. Remove what’s left of the skin after 20 minutes and put the corns back onto the chicken wire. At this point you want to let the heat hardens the corn kernels and the smoke from the cinders to slightly flavor them.

Monitor the corns until they’re brown…then they’re ready to be eaten.

You don’t have to use this method to make roast corn because you can always roast corns on a gas stove inside your kitchen, or anywhere else you choose…you da boss.

Roast Potato (sweet)

This can be done on an outside fire like the one described above or you can roast the sweet potato on a stove in the kitchen.

Wash the sweet potato to remove the soil from the skin. Place the potato on a fire and periodically turn the potato to get an even amount of heat into it.

The sweet smell from the potato will let you know when it’s done. Do not eat the potato immediately when you remove it from the fire because it is usually very hot. You just have to wait about ten minutes before attempting to enjoy this vegetable. And try to use the sweet potato called Boniato.

Roast Yellow Yam and Saltfish

1 Yellow Yam

½ lb Salted Cod Fish (Bacaloa)

(Use any heat source to your liking; outside fire, grill, or kitchen based) the idea is to roast the food on a slow heat, no flame.

Soak the salted cod fish in water for about an hour and then discard the water. While the fish is soaking wash the yellow yam to remove the soil. After the fish is soaked and ready, place the yellow yam on the fire and turn the yam to get enough heat in it at different intervals.

Place the salted cod fish on the fire and pay close attention to it to make sure that it doesn’t burn. Let the salt fish and yellow yam roast slowly to perfection. When they are ready, remove the skin from the yellow yam with a knife and cut the fish into small pieces… Enjoy.

Steam Roast Fish

4 Whole Fish (gutted and cleaned)

½ bunch Fresh Callaloo (chopped)

2 Okras (chopped)

1 tsp. Black Pepper

1 tbsp. Salt

1 med. Onion (chopped)

½ Scotch Bonnet Pepper (chopped)

Combine the callaloo with salt, onion, black pepper, okras, and scotch bonnet pepper in a bowl. Stuff each fish with the callaloo and then put the fish into an aluminum foil sheet.

Seal the aluminum foil sheet by folding the edges together to enclose each fish in a pocket. The idea is to make sure that the pocket seals in the heat when the heat source is applied. Put the foil pockets onto the chicken wire on the stones, or grill. Roast on a low heat for ten to twelve minutes.

Check one of the fish to see if it is ready by looking at the callaloo, if not, wait another three minutes. The steam roast should be ready by that time.

You can also add a little butter with the ingredients to add an extra flavor to this meal, if you so desire. As a matter of fact you add different types of vegetables to the fish, or even use fish fillets instead of whole fish to make this roadside treat. And, if you can’t get fresh callaloo, use the canned one.

I usually enjoy steam roast fish, like all other roadside food, with a cold Red Stripe beer. Yah Mon!

PS: I am having some problems with my Wireless Internet Connection so that’s why this e-zine is late this month. I was not able to connect to the internet for awhile and all the experts are giving me the same standard response every time I asked them to do something about this problem. I haven’t been helped as yet but let’s hope for the best. Thanks for your patience.

Some people use the Internet for E-Commerce but just cant get it. Lets see if you can Get It! If you don't. Keep on'll succeed one day.


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