1. Cooking is a family affair
As the nights draw in, we’re spending more time at home, and “Jamaican food is all about spending time with family”, says Craig. “There’s to that – what makes the cuisine so special is how the dishes originated. Basically, the foods that were discarded and given to our fore fathers during slavery were forged to make delicious dishes, showing that even through real hardships, beautiful food was still created. Time to eat was often the only time they could create moments with family. because it was the only time they’d get rest from work. Even today, family and food go hand in hand – for example, every year we have a barbecue for my grandmother’s birthday.
“My earliest food memory is being bossed around in the kitchen by our grandmother and mother. We would get food orders from the rest of the family, go back into the kitchen and explain what people wanted then serve it all up into bowls and take it out. All the jobs that people didn’t want to do were handed down to me because I’m the youngest!”
2. Get ready for carbs
“There are five common carbs served up when you’re having a Jamaican meal: rice, potatoes, macaroni cheese, bread, and fried dumplings. With a big meal, you’re going to probably have three of those served. It’s up to you to decide which ones you opt for. Choose wisely!”
3. Jamaican cooking can be quick
“When we were writing our cookbook, we spent time out in Jamaica and visited family. We wanted to cook them a big lunch, but it took a lot longer than you’d think. We thought it would be relatively quiet, but it was already packed. We bought fresh callaloo, onions, garlic, ginger and scotch bonnets. We took it all home, seasoned our meat, and prepared our rice and peas by soaking dried beans overnight in water. The following day, we started preparing food before going to church, then made sure all the cooking was ready for lunch. Including buying the produce, the whole meal took about 30 hours, but just in terms of prepping and cooking it took about 18 hours.
“That isn’t typical though we know about traditional ways of cooking, but being British born and part of a new generation, we understand people need tricks and tips that can make things much quicker.”
4. You can mix old and new
“Me and Shaun want to make sure traditional dishes are still used and remain current, so the new generation know about them. But we also like to fuse traditional ingredients with other cuisines. We’re British and have grown up in the UK. So, we’ve got recipes like jerk lentil bolognese, that is vegan and of course references bolognese, which we often had growing up.
“There are so many ways you can mix old with new, and one of our latest is jerk burgers. We grew up loving burgers, but we’d sometimes with the blandness of them. Often it was just salt and black pepper, so we added spices that we use in the marinade of jerk chicken to the mince, and it’s delicious.”