The island of Jamaica may be only 150 miles long with a population of less than 3 million, but it has captured the hearts and imaginations of many.

With luminaries such as Marcus Garvey and Bob Marley, Jamaicans are proud of their cultural and religious heritage. This is the home of reggae and Rastafarianism; food seasoning and jerk.

Jerk is a style of cooking native to Jamaica, in which meat is dry-rubbed with a very hot spice mixture called Jamaican jerk. Street-side 'jerk stands' are common throughout Jamaica, particularly in the capital, Kingston.

Jamaican cuisine features cooking techniques, flavours, spices and influences from each of the many waves of immigration to the island.

Christopher Columbus visited Jamaica many times and described the cuisine of the Taínos, the country's indigenous inhabitants.The Spanish contributed dishes such as vinegary escovitch fish; later English influences developed the Jamaican patty; African cuisine developed on the island as a result of waves of slavery and Chinese and East Indian influences can also be found in Jamaican cuisine, as a result of indentured labourers who replaced slaves after emancipation.

The cuisine reflects a vibrant, multi-ethnic society - but there is a dark side. Jamaica has one of the highest murder rates in the world and the country is plagued by widespread poverty and crime.

Luxury tourist resorts contrast with densely-populated and impoverished ghettos. Armed gangs thrive in places like Trench Town and Tivoli, bullet-riddled inner city areas of Kingston. 

Street Food - Kingston reveals the culture, the community and the dark underbelly of life in Jamaica – all through the island's cuisine. 

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Source: Al Jazeera