Situated in the Caribbean Sea, Jamaica is a part of the chain of Caribbean islands called the Greater Antilles, along with Cuba, Hispaniola and Puerto Rico. The tip of a mountain rising from the sea floor, Jamaica boasts lush rolling hills and beautiful beaches. Flora and fauna abound on this beautiful island, with 250 bird species — including 26 birds that are found nowhere else — and more than 200 orchids and 550 different ferns.
When most people think of Jamaica they think of Reggae music. The music was born in the 1950s and ’60s from the musical styles of mento, ska and rocksteady, and the most famous reggae star was Bob Marley.
On Holland America Line’s western Caribbean itineraries, guests can visit three Jamaican ports and become immersed in this lively and colorful culture.
A call at Ocho Rios highlights Dunn’s River Falls, one of Jamaica’s national treasures. Odd for a waterfall, the terraced cascade at Dunn’s River Falls is continuously rebuilding itself. The river is full of calcium carbonate and sodium, which turns the underlying rock into a vast hard water deposit. Gather some friends from the cruise, form a human chain, and hike directly across the face of the falls. Or, head up the hills above Ocho Rios to either the Shaw Park or Coyoba botanical gardens. Guest wishing to explore other parts of Ocho Rios can visit St. Ann parish, called the “garden parish” for its lush natural beauty, or visit the Craft Market to shop for souvenirs.
Noted for being one of the Caribbean’s best-preserved Georgian towns, Falmouth boasts a rich 18th and early 19th century history. Explore Saint Peter’s Anglican Church, built in 1795; shop for local crafts at the Albert George Market and visit The Good Hope Great House. Built in the 1700s, it’s restored in its entirety, with paintings, antiques and the lush surroundings of a 2,000-acre working enterprise.
The resort city of Montego Bay, affectionately known as Mo’Bay, offers world-class golf, sandy beaches and tales of the “White Witch of Rose Hall.” Highlights include Fort Montego, a former British fort, that still has some of the original cannons in tact; The Cage that was built in 1806 as a temporary prison for escaped slaves, drunks and other vagrants; Sharpe Monument erected in honor of Sam Sharpe who led a rebellion in 1831 that eventually resulted in abolition, and Burchell Baptist Church, built in 1824 as a place of worship for the slaves who were soon to be freed.
Jamaican Jerk: Caribbean’s Quintessential Cuisine
When it comes to local cuisine, “Jerk” cooking is extremely popular — and flavorful! What exactly is “Jerk” cooking? Jerk refers to a way that a meat (be it chicken, beef, pork, goat or fish), vegetables or fruit is seasoned and cooked. This style comes from Jamaica. The typical cooking style uses a marinade or paste that includes at least pimento, which is often called allspice, and scotch bonnet peppers, also known as habenero. The meat is then marinated and slow smoked over pimento wood. Pimentia or pimento is a Spanish word for pepper and early European explorers mistook this for black pepper, so they called it pimento.
The word Jerk started as a noun and then became a verb as in “Jerking” that meant to poke holes in the meat so the spices could permeate the meat. Jerk cooking experts like native Jamaican and author Helen Willinsky of “Jerk from Jamaica” says that the name Jerk also could have come from the turning of the meat in the marinade or from the way some folks will just jerk a strip from the roast on the BBQ.
Jerk “huts” are all over the Caribbean Islands, and you can find them by the lovely smell. Many times they are shacks that are octagon or circular-built around a telephone pole to support the thatched roof. Dining is outside, as is the cooking of the food.
With this delicious regional recipe featured in the Culinary Arts Centers onboard, now you can try your hand at making Jerk.
RECIPE: JAMAICAN JERK PORK TENDERLOINS WITH GINGERED BBQ DRIZZLE
2 (1 to 1 1/2-pound) pork tenderloins, trimmed of fat
1/2 cup fresh lime juice
1 cup Jerk Marinade, recipe follows
2 teaspoons kosher salt
Gingered BBQ Drizzle, for serving, recipe follows
Rinse meat well and pat dry with paper towels. Rub the lime juice all over the meat, place in a nonreactive bowl, and set aside, refrigerated, for 15 minutes. Add the Jerk Marinade (recipe below) and turn to coat meat well. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or up to overnight.
Preheat a grill to medium-low. Remove the meat from the marinade, leaving some of the marinade clinging to the surface of the meat. Season the meat with the kosher salt and lightly oil the grill grates. Place the tenderloins on the grill and cook, turning occasionally, until the pork is just cooked through and nicely browned on the outside and a thermometer inserted into the center registers 145 to 150 degrees F, 28 to 30 minutes. Remove the tenderloins from the grill and allow to rest for at least 10 minutes before serving. When ready to serve, slice the tenderloins into 1/2-inch thick slices on a slight diagonal and serve fanned out on a plate, topped with the Gingered BBQ Drizzle.
1/2 cup chopped fresh thyme leaves
1 cup chopped green onions
1/2 cup chopped parsley leaves
1/2 cup minced onion
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 crushed bay leaves
2 teaspoons ground allspice
1 teaspoons ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds
2 Scotch bonnet chiles, seeded
1 1/2 tablespoons minced garlic
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/4 cup soy sauce
3 tablespoons lime juice
2 tablespoons vinegar
In the bowl of a food processor combine the thyme, green onions, parsley, onion, brown sugar, bay leaves, allspice, nutmeg, cinnamon, coriander seeds, chiles, garlic, ginger, salt, pepper, and vegetable oil and process to a smooth paste. Transfer to a nonreactive bowl and stir in the soy sauce, lime juice, and vinegar.
Refrigerate, in a glass container with a lid, until ready to use. Any unused marinade will keep for up to 1 month.
Yield: about 1 1/2 cups marinade
GINGERED BBQ DRIZZLE
6 tablespoons ketchup
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup pineapple juice
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons vinegar
1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
1 tablespoon Tamarind pulp
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 Scotch bonnet chile, seeded and minced
Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan and cook over medium heat until reduced enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 10 minutes. Serve the sauce either warm or at room temperature, drizzled over the Jerk Pork Tenderloins.
Yield: about 1 cup