June 15, 2011

Caribbean Cuisine Is Good

Michelle O reminded me that I haven't blogged in a while.  So last night I learned a lot and ate good.  I feel like sharing an interesting fact I learned.

Zora Neale Hurston is an African American author during the time of the Harlem Renaissance.  Her most famous work is Their Eyes Were Watching God.  You may remember reading it in high school.  Anyway, she responsible for spread jerk throughout Jamaica and the rest of the world.  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.  Originally the technique was kept a secret by the mountain people of Jamaica.  Even the other Jamaica near the beach didn't know it.  Zora Neale Hurston was in Jamaica and she was so determine to see those people.  She spent some time there and it's chronicled in her book, Tell My Horse.  In the book, she writes how they jerked in the mountain regions of Jamaica and from there other Jamaicans learned it and popularized it.

Caribbean Cuisine is the first modern fusion food.  Think about all the influences- Spanish, African, Native American, French, English, Chinese, and Indian.  All had significant populations that interacted and shared food on those small islands.

Last nights Food and Folklore.  The guest chef Culinary Artist Chef Oji Ashebre Jaja of Kingston, Jamaica was amazing. He is the blob about the chef:
Nominated for the coveted 2010 Chef of the Year award and heralded by the Jamaica Observer as "the next great Jamaican chef", Chef Oji honed his skills at one of the world's foremost luxury hotel chains, The Ritz Carlton, in both Jamaica and the United States. His earlier training began at the Runaway Bay HEART Academy in Jamaica and then later at Johnson & Wales in Florida. Oji's parents gave him the West African name Ashebre, which means "The Artist."  This name graces Oji's culinary services company in Jamaica. Besides passion for his craft, Oji's vision is to further diversify the Caribbean dining landscape by introducing his interpretation of Modern Caribbean Cuisine to all corners of the globe.
  • First Course - Jerk Chicken Salad over pan-seared polenta with cho-cho cabbage slaw.  
  • Main Course - Caribbean Grilled Salmon on coconut and roast garlic sweet potato mash with Scotch bonnet spinach and mango-pineapple relish.  
  • Dessert Course - Orange Coconut Bread Pudding with sorrel reduction and coffee-rum cream