Executive summary By darmansjah

PORK,  which is marinated with Scotch bonnet chillies, allspice, sugar, cinnamon and a plethora of other ingredients, is slow-cooked over a smoky wood fire to create this dish, which is best eaten using your fingers.

ORIGIN Pork was the original jerk meat, a leftover fro mthe Sapnish conquests of the 15th and 16th centuries. A less happy reminder of Spanish rule were the Maroons-African slaves left to fend for themselves on the islands, and brutally hunted by the British. The Maroons needed meat that could be easily transported and kept, so they came up with a jerk seasoning made from readily available ingredients. It had the added bonus of adding flavor and, smoked over a fire of pimento wood and berries, the seasoning pierced deep into the meat.

TASTING In the Caribbean, you’ll have no problem spotting the jerk stalls, which are surrounded in billowing clouds of scented smoke. The cooking vehicle of choice is usually a split oil barrel, it s coals expertly tended. Pimento wood is less common now, and the smoking of the meat pretty much extinct. Still, jerk seasoning varies from stall to stall. The meat should be tender and bursting with jice: the heat comes first-a fruity blast of chilli-then a sweetness to temper the fire. Each bite should have a whisper of allspice, a hint of nutmeg or cinnamon, and that blackened, sticky crust – the quintessence of jerk.

FINDING IT Scotchile’s jerk centre has outlets in Jamaica’Montego Bay, Ocho Rios and Kingston. Dine in open thatched-roof shelters and enjoy authentic side dishes such as roast breadfruit and yam (dishes from US$2.40; 00 1 44 794 9457).


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