Have you ever tried a flakey, warm rich Jamaican patty? These little pockets of goodness are an Island Runaways favorite, perfect for a quick bite on your Caribbean isle of choice. They're also Jamaica's version of fast food -- but instead of a burger between a bun, you've got a pastry molded into a patty, around some yummy filling.
What's inside? The classic ingredient is beef, which can be pretty spicey, or medium, or even mild. But Jamaicans are a creative bunch, so now you can find shrimp patties, chicken patties, lobster patties, vegetable patties, and even TOFU patties! (We'd never tried that last one, but believe me, shrimp patties are da bomb.)
The patty's like a distant cousin of the Cornish pasty or the Latin American empanada. It's a cheap and filling lunch you can grab on the go -- perfect for an Island Runaway break on the beach. For an extra indulgent experience, get "coco bread," a soft slightly sweet bread and wedge your patty between the delicious layers. Washed down with a Ting (the grapefruit flavored soda) or a fresh coconut water, and you are in business.
There are two big brands in Jamaica, Tastee patties and Juici Beef. Mother's is another patty-maker. Then you'll find the "boutique" patties, individual shops or folks rolling out the dough, spicing the filling just right, and lovingly cooking patties up day and night. At Devon House in Kingston they serve nice plump patties. One of the best I ever tasted was at a little restaurant in Negril, cross from Seven Mile Beach: Miss Sonia's. She made us crab patties. Now, that was a serious treat.
If you want to get into a very long discussion with a group of Jamaicans (that's a polite say of saying an argument), ask them "What's the BEST patty in Jamaica?" People feel very passionately about this subject. But while it's fun to talk about them, it's much better to eat them!
The U.S.-based chain Golden Krust serves up some impressively authentic patties. Have you tried a Jamaican patty? What's your favorite type, beef? Veggie? Where did you find it?
(Photo credit: Golden Krust for Dinner, Steven Tom, Flickr)