Jamaica has given the world plenty, and its culinary contributions are endless. People enjoy jerk around the world, but it’s absolutely a Jamaican staple. To honor this, the Grace Jamaican Jerk Festival (GJJF) will take place at Miramar Regional Park in Florida. Foodies can bond over their shared love of jerk chicken, jerk pork, and other delicacies.
Here’s what to know about the festival and the history of jerk.
The Festival Isn’t New
The festival, set for November 12, 2023, will enter its 21st year. Over the years, it’s gotten bigger and better. It not only pays homage to Jamaicans but the Caribbean community in general. It also encourages outsiders to dive into Caribbean cuisine.
Eddy Edwards, the GJJF Managing Partner and CEO, is optimistic that the festival will be a success yet again.
“South Florida is home to the largest Caribbean population in the United States,” he said. “The Grace Jamaican Jerk Festival reminds us of the significant, delicious and positive impact the Caribbean has on the American culture. Over the past 21 years, the festival has evolved to incorporate other wonderful Caribbean cultures and attract people from all over the world. This event is a family-friendly, interactive, intergenerational celebration where each family member can eat well and have fun.”
What Can Attendees Expect?
To state the obvious: expect an enormous amount of delicious food. It’s projected that there will be approximately 10,000 attendees, and they’ll all have hearty appetites.
Morgan Heritage, a Grammy Award-winning group, will provide the island rhythms. There will be dancing, games and family-friendly events from 2 p.m. to 10 p.m.
General admission tickets are available for $40 until November 11, and tickets at the gate are $50. For an elevated experience, VIP tickets are $175, and kids under 10 can attend for free.
The Grace Jamaican Jerk Festival app is free to download. Buy tickets, swag, and stay in the know in the weeks leading up to the event.
The History of Jerk
Jerk sauce is flavorful, and it can be mild, medium or hot. “Jerking” refers to how the meat is prepared and cooked.
In the early days before refrigeration, heavily seasoning or smoking meats for long periods kept them from rotting. The Arawaks, the first inhabitants of Jamaica, incorporated these into their cooking practices.
However, it was the Maroons, not the Arawaks, who pioneered jerk. The Maroons took refuge in the mountains of Jamaica after escaping slavery. They used African cooking techniques and coupled them with a series of herbs and spices. This paved the way for jerk as we enjoy it today.
Where There Are Jamaicans, There’s Jerk
Just about all Jamaican restaurants serve jerk, especially chicken. If you’re visiting the island, some businesses to patronize are Jack Sprat Restaurant on Treasure Beach, Sugar Mill Restaurant in Montego Bay or Murray’s Fish and Jerk Hut in Mandeville and Clarendon.
It’s worth pointing out that tasty jerk isn’t just found at sit-down restaurants. Street eateries offer jerk chicken, pork and fish that’s just as delicious, if not more so.
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