jerk & juice

Jerk is Jamaica’s claim to culinary fame. A fiery spice blend of allspice, cloves, garlic, and Scotch bonnet peppers, jerk spice, as it’s commonly called, is dry-rubbed into various meats before smoking over a slow-burning mix of hardwood and charcoal. Jamaicans boast of being able to jerk anything – yes, the ubiquity of jerk means it can function as both noun and verb – from pork and tofu to shellfish and sausage, each augmented in its own particular way by a healthy rub of jerk. Yet for me, nothing quite measures up to how the spice permeates – and in the process tenderizes – the meat of a chicken. The capsicum in the pepper breaks down the muscle fibers, turning even the toughest old bird into something sublime and juicy – with a satisfying spice kick, too.  Makeshift jerk shacks are found all over the country, but along an empty stretch of road between Ocho Rios and Port Antonio I came upon Buccaneers Jerk & Juice, a substantially less provisional establishment with both a garden and bar. Half a succulent chicken with a side of festival, lightly sweetened fried dumplings that are tailor-made for mopping up the addictive mix of drippings and hot sauce which puddles on the plate, set me back all of eight bucks. That’s what I call finger-lickin’ good.


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