Being a dessert officianado does not in any way imply that I am not interested in all kinds of food. I am a proponent of a healthy all natural diet with, of course, the occasional inclusion of a sinful treat. My passion for food enriches my experience of travelling to different places. My recent trip to an area of Jamaica that is the center of much of their farming and agriculture was enhanced by all the fresh food I ate there.
One of the great treasures of the Jamaican diet is the traditional breakfast that consists of fresh ackee sautéed with salt fish and/or vegetables, sautéed callaloo, a dark green leafy vegetable that supplies you with a hefty dose of calcium and iron to jump start your day, and your starch, a choice of either johnnycakes, lusciously delicious small fried dumplings made from flour, or boiled bananas and white sweet potatoes.
Ackee is actually the fruit of a West African tree brought to Jamaica in the 18th century. When the fruit is ripe it’s pear shaped scarlet pod opens up to expose a cream colored aril. These arils are collected and then sautéed in a pan like scrambled eggs along with other local vegetables such as green and red peppers or, with a dried salted codfish that has been soaked and pulled from the bones.
Upon returning from my first trip to Jamaica in the 70’s I sought out the only ackee which could be found in the US and that was in a can. I was so disappointed to discover that ackee cannot be eaten anywhere off the island on which it grows because elsewhere it can only be purchased in cans and preserved in citric acid which totally alters the taste…kind of like the difference between fresh and canned artichoke hearts!
So after a swim in the Caribbean, just imagine sitting down on the veranda at Calabash House on the beach or under the tin roof at Smerf Café up the hill and enjoying a plateful of these Jamaican delicacies along with a cup of locally grown and hand roasted coffee…Jamaican Johnny cakes to be featured in my next brunch cookbook…could there be a better meal?