Something about Jerk

Appears in

Eat Caribbean

Eat Caribbean

By Virginia Burke

Published 2005

  • About
To find jerk, we should go to the land of ‘Look Behind’ (historical Maroon country in Jamaica, where the British army feared to tread).
Jerk is the Jamaican way of preparing highly seasoned meat, slowly cooked over a fire-pit of pimento wood, whereupon the food remains tender and delights the consumer with its hot, succulent and aromatic blend of earthy Caribbean deliciousness!
One might hear differing tales of how jerk came about, but there is little question that it is a Jamaican tradition. The most popular notion is that the Maroons perfected it, that they probably came with the basics from their African homeland and that they may have acquired a trick or two from the original Jamaicans, the Tainos (the Tainos, Caribs and Arawaks were the indigenous Caribbean peoples who taught the buccaneers how to barbecue). The Maroons were African slaves who were freed and left behind in Jamaica by the Spanish and they defied capture by the British when they took over the island. Being fierce resisters, they survived mainly in the rugged terrain of the Cockpit Country - the most inhospitable part of the island, which is riddled with limestone caves - and across the mountainous spine of the island as far east as the Blue Mountains. They endured through their bravery and skill and hunted and cooked the wild pigs that had been left behind by the Spanish. This was probably the birth of jerk as we know it today.