At restaurants and cook shops in Jamaica today, servers instantly load your carbs with gravy (sauce) even without the customer’s request. This way of serving has become part of Jamaica’s gastronomy.
This presentation of food is contrary to the traditional ethics of serving and has now become part of our culture as a result of globalization and creolization. As we know, every culture is “contaminated” by other cultures; every “tradition” is a child of history, and history is never static (Flamdrin & Montanari, 2009). Classically the main item in a meal is usually sauced (Rosenfeld, 2011) this was a Jamaican tradition due to creolization. It was also considered the ethical way of serving a meal.
Globalisation has contaminated this culture in that modern cuisine does not necessarily have a specific set of rules except for doing what works and makes sense. In Jamaica, this shift is mostly due to the culinary creativity of persons with less disposable income. Coming from the dumpling and butter era, which may still to some extent exist today, persons who had very little protein and much carbs would “tun dem hand mek fashion” (be creative) in stretching the protein component of a meal as best as possible. Simmering those boney lesser cuts of meat or trimmings, packed with cartilage is a crucial component of making a great stock which is the basis of a great sauce. This way of life has now contaminated our Jamaican gastronomy. We now go straight ahead and flood our carbs with leaving the protein without, unless of course it is cooked in a sauce.
Cooks now present food this way at local cook shops and restaurant not only because it might be the only way they know but also you can almost bet you last dollar that the customer is going to make that request so why not just go straight ahead and do it anyway.
What was then will not vanish but will be out of sight for a while, sure it will return, but we might not be around to see it? This way of eating and serving will be a fixture in Jamaica’s gastronomy, neither known nor practiced by future generations.
Randie Anderson Executive Chef, CEC, CCA,WCEC, MSc Gastronomic Tourism.
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