Jamaica Vacations Travel Tips: Food and Jamaican Language

Jamaica's National Flag - symbolizing our hardship (black), the fruitfulness of the land (green) and our beautiful sunshine (yellow).
Jamaica's National Flag - symbolizing our hardship (black), the fruitfulness of the land (green) and our beautiful sunshine (yellow).

About Jamaica

Before starting your Jamaica vacation it is good to get the basic information about the Jamaica weather conditions, its currency, population, communication, entertainment and food. The series on Jamaica Vacation will assist with giving you as much information as possible.

Jamaica is an Island in the Caribbean located about 580 miles from Florida with a population of approximately 3,000,000 and an area of 4,411 square miles (11,244 sq km). With latitude of 18*N and longitude of 778W which means it is located about midway between the Panama Canal and the South Coast of Florida.

Closest to us is Cuba about 90 miles off the north coast.

Jamaica sees an annual rainfall of about 102 to 50 inches, with most of the rainfall occurring during the months May to June. Between September and November a significant amount rainfall also occur due to tropical depressions, troughs, low pressure systems, storms and hurricane coming out of the Atlantic Ocean. The driest period is December to March, any rainfall occurring in this period will be from cold fronts coming from North America.

Coastal temperatures are usually warmer than inland areas. The average coastal temperature range from 26* to 30* Celsius, while inland is 22* Celsius and lower depending on elevation.

Coolest months are December through February while the warmest are June through August.

ripe ackee in pod
ripe ackee in pod
ackee & salt fish served ith fried ripe plantains, boiled green banana, fried dumpling and calaloo
ackee & salt fish served ith fried ripe plantains, boiled green banana, fried dumpling and calaloo
roasted breadfruit
roasted breadfruit
jerking pork over a pit.
jerking pork over a pit.
pan chicken grilled in a metal drum cut in half
pan chicken grilled in a metal drum cut in half

Traditional Jamaican Eats

First of all, any cuisine you desire you can get here in Jamaica as we have a diversity of restaurants in our Island. Most people who travel here look forward, however, to our local/traditional foods.

Jamaica has a national dish unlike many other cultures. Ackees cooked with salted codfish. This can be served with roasted breadfruit, fried or boiled dumplings, boiled green bananas, cooked yam or even bread.Serve this with a side of calaloo or fried ripe plantains or a nice slice of avocado. Wash this down with your favorite drink, and just in case you don't have a favorite drink, don't worry, coconut water is just fine.

Jamaica is the home of Jerk. What is Jerk? Jerk is a combination of spices and a method of cooking. Jerk spice consists of allspice (pimentos), scotch bonnet peppers, thyme, scallion, onions, garlic, salt, nutmeg and vinegar. There are two versions, the wet spice and the dry spice which is the more popular. It is pretty easy to make as the main ingredient is the pimento. Original jerk was done over charcoal over a pit with the meat placed on pimento sticks to give it that added smokey flavor. In recent years jerk has evolved into using grill pans instead. Some persons even do the jerk in their gas ovens. The grill pan uses charcoal but the flavor is not the same as the original pit with the pimento wood.

Over the years even the seasoning of the meat has changed as some persons will use the store bought seasoning to rub the meat with. The lack of the right amount of spices has also caused the flavor to change. Out of this change came what we call the Pan Chicken, where the chicken uses almost any nice spice and is grilled. The grill pan is made from metal drums cut in half with metal gratings and a place for the coal. Pan chicken is very popular and can be bought on almost any street corner or in any town.

The best jerk however can be had in Boston, Portland. You will find some restaurants employing a similar technique to attract the same jerk flavor as Boston. Any meat can be jerked, from fish, chicken, pork (especially pork), beef and mutton with the pork and chicken being the most popular.

Jerk is normally eaten with festivals (a sweet dumpling made with refined cornmeal, sugar and baking powder), bammies or any starch you prefer. Nice cold coconut water (popularly known as jelly) or icy cold Red Stripe beer are what locals like to drink with their jerk. If you are soda drinker then by all means have a Pepsi cola or Bigga soft drink.

Other popular local dishes are red pea soup, stewed peas (red kidney beans), gongo pea soup, rice and peas, brown stewed chicken, roast fish, steamed fish, fricassee chicken, curried goat, stewed beef and stewed pork. Staples include cooked white yams, cooked yellow yams, boiled green bananas, roast breadfruit, fried green plantains and cooked cassava. You can also have salted cod fish fritter, very poplar around the island.

Sweet treats include ripe banana fritters, cassava pudding, sweet potato pudding, fried ripe plantains and cornmeal pudding.

The Jamaican Language

The Jamaican Language is known as Patois, pronounced 'pat-wa'. It is a French word that means 'not standard or uneducated or provincial speech' (Websters online Dictionary). In other words patois is jargon. The Jamaican language developed as a result of the slaves way of trying to understand and communicate in a world in which their own language was not allowed. Upon closer study it is noticed that Jamaican patois is a combination of several languages including French, Spanish, Dutch and English. In recent years there has been talk of having a Jamaica patois dictionary and having the dialect declared a language.

According to the Oxford Online Dictionary, a slang is 'a type of language that consists of words and phrases that are regarded as very informal, are more common in speech than writing, and are typically restricted to a particular context or group of people'. There are slang commonly used in our culture that are restricted to a particular area or group. These slang are not necessarily a part of our original dialect. Some of these slang are made up by a group in order to communicate with each other anonymously.

Common Slangs

Don = used to describe an area leader/gang leader (an area leader might also be a gang leader, area leader is not a good thing)

Dawta (daughter) = nice girl, nice younger female (usually by a predatory male) eg. Wha hapn dawta....male asking female what's happening....a very common way to break the ice when hitting on someone.

Shotta = trigger happy (gun slinger or suspected gun slinger)

Fawda (Father) = respectful greeting for the older man usually over 35.

Aunty = respectful greeting for the older female usually between 35 and 50

Mamma (mother) = respectful greeting for elderly females over 50

Skettel = a derogatory name of any female who carries herself a certain way (dress, hair style, attitude)

Room Scroom = way of guys greeting each other (no particular meaning)

At yuh = greeting returned (hello to you too)

Boom bam or Bung Bang = men greeting each other (no particular meaning)

Zagga = greeting (no particular meaning)

Hot Head = rude boy or girl, someone not to be messed with, a very aggressive person, someone who like a confrontation (a rude boy is not necessarily a gunman, a gun man is a shotta) A hothead could be either a shotta or just a strong willed person.

Rey-rey = and so, etc.

Bless or Blessed = greetings

Yow or Yeow = calling someone (also used as greetings in rare cases. Females find this way of calling them derogatory and disrespectful)

Hey and Hoy = calling to someone (females only accept this from friends and family. If a strange male attempts this they may get an earful)

Here are some examples of our dialect - with translations

1. Howdy doo.......How do you do?

2. Wha hapn........What's happening?

3. Mawnin........good morning

4. Whey yuh deh.....where are you?

5. Evenin.....good evening

6. whey yuh cum fram....Where do you come from? or Where are you from?

7. Mi a go pan di road............I am going out or I am going on the road.

To make it simpler here are some simple word translations:-

Mi = me

Yuh - you

Deh = there (also used when asking - where are you?)

Yah = here

Sah = sir

Mam = miss, madam

Dah = that (eg, dah man deh = that man there)

Pickney = children

Di = the

Pee-pee = urine, urinate

Nyam = eat

Nyammings = food

Gyal = girl (also a derogatory term for adult female)

Batty = bottom, derriere (eg, big batty gyal = big bottom girl)

Bwoy = boy (also a derogatory name for adult male)

Sey = say (Whey yuh sey?.....what did you say?)

Dawg = Dog

Puss = cat

Mongrel = common dog

Bud = bird

Dutty = dirty

Brawta = extra, more

Nuff = plenty, a lot



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Comments 55 comments

epigramman profile image

epigramman 5 years ago

...well first thing I'll do when I arrive here - is to run over and give you a big hug and then have a Blue MOUNTAIN coffee together .....and compare writer's notes - lol - and number two - I will post this to my Facebook page with a direct link back here:

lake erie time 4:47pm - I am going into the lake now for a dip ....


Cardisa profile image

Cardisa 5 years ago from Jamaica Author

Thank you Epigramman, I appreciate the hug, the coffee and the link. Hopefully I'll see you in Jamaica soon.

Nuff love!


Randy Godwin profile image

Randy Godwin 5 years ago from Southern Georgia

I've been to your country so many times your hub almost sounds like "home cooking" to me, Cardisa! I especially like the jerk chicken at "Best of the West" in Negril where I'll be in a little over a week from now.

I rated this hub up because it reminds me so much of your people and beautiful country. :)

Randy


Cardisa profile image

Cardisa 5 years ago from Jamaica Author

Thank you Randy. That means a lot to me.

Most people only see the negative but we are a beautiful people and all the negative hurt us. We are working very hard to combat crime in our beautiful Island, I am glad people like you give us the chance to make your stay memorable and wonderful.

Have a wonderful trip and enjoy as much as you can.

Blessed!


SubRon7 profile image

SubRon7 5 years ago from eastern North Dakota

Cardisa, my friend, the first thing I would do in Jamaica, is find you and your fiancé. Girl, with 143 followers, you will be busy. I read your whole hub, except most of the language part. I guess I won't have to worry about the language unless I was actually coming. Unfortunately.... Anyway, Cardisa, all my favorite hubbers have their own file on my computer. You were one of the first, so should it ever happen that I can come, I can easily refer back to this good hub. Thank you for the info.


Cardisa profile image

Cardisa 5 years ago from Jamaica Author

Thank you James. I am so grateful to all mu followers too.

Thank you for the wonderful comment, it really warms my heart that the hub is so well received.

Thank you, all of you!

Love

Irie


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 5 years ago from England

Hi, this is wonderful! I wish I could come over for a holiday, what a beautiful place, and I would love to try all the new foods that I haven't even heard of! lol my son has picked up this patois, it has escaped and come over to England! ha ha he always used to say batty! I blame his friends! hee hee


Cardisa profile image

Cardisa 5 years ago from Jamaica Author

Hi Nell,

Batty is a very popular word here....lol

I wish you could come visit us, we are a warm friendly people.

Thanks for stopping by and leaving such wonderful comment.

Cheers!


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 5 years ago from United States

We spent a few days in Montego Bay for a wedding and loved it. We are hoping to return to Jamaica for a longer period of time. I enjoyed your hub and am off to part 2.


Cardisa profile image

Cardisa 5 years ago from Jamaica Author

Thanks Pamela, hope you enjoy your stay second time around.


Om Paramapoonya profile image

Om Paramapoonya 5 years ago

Room Scroom! Great hub, Cardisa. I really enjoyed reading about Jamaican food and learning some slang terms. :)


Cardisa profile image

Cardisa 5 years ago from Jamaica Author

Boom Bam OM, love your use of the greeting. Thanks for stopping by and reading.

Blessed!


bbnix profile image

bbnix 5 years ago from Southern California

I love this hub Cardisa, your new Avatar too..You look happy...

I've been all over the Caribbean, but not to your home...that's next for sure...

I'm soooo looking forward to it my friend.....thanks..you're the greatest..what a wonderful friend you are...


Cardisa profile image

Cardisa 5 years ago from Jamaica Author

Hi BB,

Thank you so much, glad you like my avatar and my hub. Hope you visit soon. Thank you for being a friend.


punacoast profile image

punacoast 5 years ago from Big Island, Hawaii

Jamaica is a wonderful island! I've been to Negril many years ago for a scuba diving trip. I still cannot forget the incredible clear turquoise sea and white sand beach of Negril. Love jerk chicken, roasted breadfruit and "scrambled eggs" ackee! We have breadfruit here in Hawaii too. Aloha.


Cardisa profile image

Cardisa 5 years ago from Jamaica Author

Aloha Punacoast, I would love to visit Hawaii some day. I am happy you like my Island and our food. I know Hawaii has great beaches too, so it's really a compliment that you find our beaches and water so amazing.

Thanks for reading an leaving a comment.


Reynold Jay profile image

Reynold Jay 5 years ago from Saginaw, Michigan

I'm copying the slang for reference in my novels. This is one of my weak spots and this will help. Nice HUB and up one awsome as far as I'm concerned. Well done as ususal.


Cardisa profile image

Cardisa 5 years ago from Jamaica Author

Thanks RJ, glad you liked it.


Powerpoe1 profile image

Powerpoe1 5 years ago

"I really enjoyed Jamaica in 2008. I took a cruise on Celebrity and really enjoyed the Dunns River Fall." Voted Up & Rated Beautiful~


Cardisa profile image

Cardisa 5 years ago from Jamaica Author

Thank you PowerPoe, I am really glad you like Jamaica and had a wonderful time. Hope you visit again some time. Thanks for stopping by.


Pollyannalana profile image

Pollyannalana 5 years ago from US

Wonderful hub, I love where I am but I have always thought I would love Jamaica. I have never heard any bad. (and I'd love to go to Boa Boa) Lucky woman you are!


Cardisa profile image

Cardisa 5 years ago from Jamaica Author

Thanks Polly, I am lucky to be living in Paradise....yeah..never thought about it that way.


ahorseback profile image

ahorseback 5 years ago

Cardisa , My wife has been there a couple of times and tries to get me to the carib , Im not much for the hot climate though, This is so interesting though ! It is you and I that will teach the other about our homes and not our governments . Please write some more!....:-} huggy!


Cardisa profile image

Cardisa 5 years ago from Jamaica Author

Hi Ahorseback, you should come in the cooler climate between December and March. Yes..we will teach each other about our homes...I hate politics. Thanks for reading.

Hugs

Cardisa


Alladream74 profile image

Alladream74 5 years ago from Oakland, California

Fantastic hub.Voted up!


Cardisa profile image

Cardisa 5 years ago from Jamaica Author

Hello again Allan,

Thanks for stopping by and for the vote!


Davewin 5 years ago

Bwoy mi miss mi yaad bad bad, :( mi well overdue fi a visit. Di money ting kinda tight rite now so mi gwoin haffi hold it fi a bit longer.


Cardisa profile image

Cardisa 5 years ago from Jamaica Author

Bwoy, Dave. Mi like when mi hear sey mi yardy dem miss home. Hope yuh mek little dough weh yuh can visit soon.

Bless up!


habee profile image

habee 5 years ago from Georgia

Cardisa, my best friend goes to Jamaica every year and loves it! Love that you included the "lingo." Rated up!


Cardisa profile image

Cardisa 5 years ago from Jamaica Author

Thanks Habee. It made no sense inviting people ti visit and not tell them what certain slang meant.


jamaicavillas profile image

jamaicavillas 5 years ago from Villanueva del Trabuco, Malaga, Andalucia, Spain

Loved it. I have a video of Patois on my Blog. http://www.myjamaicaholidays.blogspot.com/


Cardisa profile image

Cardisa 5 years ago from Jamaica Author

Hello jamaicavillas, I am honored to have you here. Thanks!


jamaicavillas profile image

jamaicavillas 5 years ago from Villanueva del Trabuco, Malaga, Andalucia, Spain

Honoured to be here. I fell foul of the Hub police though. I had a few links that were naughty, I´ve taken them off now and maybe "Him not tek I to de big man's yard!"


jamaicavillas profile image

jamaicavillas 5 years ago from Villanueva del Trabuco, Malaga, Andalucia, Spain

It's my first HUB, I do Blogs and websites for Jamaica so I thought I would try out Hub pages to see how they perform on the Internet. As "content is King" as far as SEO is concerned, they should be great. Links do help but, if they are not allowed, then no worries.


jamaicavillas profile image

jamaicavillas 5 years ago from Villanueva del Trabuco, Malaga, Andalucia, Spain

Yeah Mon! Mi nah hav na vi-oh-lerr-shons on mi page na more. tanks bro's!


Cardisa profile image

Cardisa 5 years ago from Jamaica Author

Jamaicavillas, links are allowed but they have to be relevant and of good quality.


jamaicavillas profile image

jamaicavillas 5 years ago from Villanueva del Trabuco, Malaga, Andalucia, Spain

Yes. True, we can only try our best.


Just Ask Susan profile image

Just Ask Susan 5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

Jamaica is one place that I've always wanted to visit. Every year at the Mariposa Folk Festival they have this one food concession that offers Jerk Chicken...I look so forward to this. The one thing that I would absolutely love to see is the beaches that you have there. From the pictures I've seen Jamaica looks so beautiful!


Cardisa profile image

Cardisa 5 years ago from Jamaica Author

Susan, the beaches here are next to none. Long stretches of golden sand, clear blue waters and people that are warm and friendly. Take a vacation, trust me you wont regret it.


stayingalivemoma profile image

stayingalivemoma 5 years ago from Tempe, Arizona

What a cool hub man!! I always wanted to go to Jamaica. My parents and sisters went a few years ago (I couldn't go because I was playing mommy to a small army of children) and they took some beautiful pics!! One day it will be my turn!


Cardisa profile image

Cardisa 5 years ago from Jamaica Author

I really hope you get the time to visit. It's beautiful here. Sunny all seasons, except during the wet months in May and October.


DeborahNeyens profile image

DeborahNeyens 5 years ago from Iowa

I was to Jamaica once, to Negril, and had a great time. I especially loved the food - jerk chicken and rice and peas were my favorite. Thanks for bringing back those wonderful food memories!


Cardisa profile image

Cardisa 5 years ago from Jamaica Author

Deborah, I am glad you like our food and beautiful Island. Come again soon!


2besure profile image

2besure 5 years ago from Charlotte, North Carolina

When to Jamaica years ago with a friend. We decided we were going to leave the tourist, took a cab with about 9 people and went into the village. It was scary but quite an adventure.


Cardisa profile image

Cardisa 5 years ago from Jamaica Author

2Besure, I guess it was scary because you had no idea where you were going. Next time get a guide though, it's much safer that way.


Valentine Logar profile image

Valentine Logar 5 years ago from Dallas, Texas

Wonderful! Love Jamaica though haven't been back for years now. I suspect will simply have to convince my husband it is is worth a trip to the Blue Mountains, home of the hottest pepper, best coffee and best views!


Cardisa profile image

Cardisa 5 years ago from Jamaica Author

Valentine, you should be a PR for Jamaica..lol

Our coffee is the best in the world and the view is next to none, not so sure about the peppers...lol


Valentine Logar profile image

Valentine Logar 5 years ago from Dallas, Texas

You know I didn't realize the Scotch Bonnet had been beaten out of their rating by other newly discovered peppers. Oh my, I will have to add to my pepper collection!

I have been and done PR for Jamaica. I love the islands, all of them. But am somewhat stuck in the Bahamas for now as 13 years ago I met and married a Bahamian who for some odd reason always wants to visit home.


Cardisa profile image

Cardisa 5 years ago from Jamaica Author

Valentine, so now I inderstand you love for the islands...you also love and island man!

We have very hot peppers here but peppers coming out of Mexico might be hotter. I think the cayenne pepper beats the scotch bonnet.


jeyaramd profile image

jeyaramd 4 years ago from Mississauga, Ontario

Jamaican food looks a like the barbecues I have seen in Dominica. Barbecue cooking every Friday and Saturday is always a treat in Rosseau, Dominica. Its great having Jerk Chicken and codfish - these were my favorites while studying in the Caribbean. Reminds me of the good life. Thanks for sharing this hub about Jamaica.


Cardisa profile image

Cardisa 4 years ago from Jamaica Author

Hi Jeyaramd, I think Caribbean cuisine intertwines with each other so they look a lot alike. Jerk chicken originated in Jamaica and spread across the Caribbean. It is mostly a weekend treat.

Thanks for stopping by!


rafeeqq profile image

rafeeqq 4 years ago from Mandeville, Jamaica

There is no doubt that Jamaica has some tasty delicacies and a wonderful culture. http://www.tropicaltreasures.net/pages/jamaica-bea...


Cardisa profile image

Cardisa 4 years ago from Jamaica Author

Hello Rafeeqq, thanks for reading and commenting.


Chris Achilleos profile image

Chris Achilleos 4 years ago

I've always wanted to visit Jamaica, I believe it is a very beautiful island. Voted up :)


Cardisa profile image

Cardisa 4 years ago from Jamaica Author

Hi Chris, yes it's very beautiful here and I do hope you visit some time. Thank you!

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