National Jamaican Jerk Day Date in the current year: October 27, 2024

National Jamaican Jerk Day On the fourth Sunday of October, Jamaican Americans and all those who love Jamaican cuisine celebrate National Jamaican Jerk Day. It was created in honor of a Jamaican style of cooking that is very popular among Caribbean and West Indian immigrants in North America and Western Europe.

In Jamaica, the term “jerking” refers to rubbing or marinating meat (or sometimes other foods) with a hot spice mixture before cooking it on a grill or in the oven. Jerk spice was originally used to cook chicken and pork, but in modern Jamaican cuisine this spice mix can be used to season a wide range of foods including beef, fish, goat, lamb, sausage, shellfish, shrimp, tofu, and vegetables.

The history of Jamaican jerk dates back to pre-colonial times. It is generally believed that the first people to cook jerked meat were the Arawak and Taíno indigenous peoples of the Caribbean. Following the Spanish invasion of Jamaica in the mid-17th century, indigenous Jamaicans intermingled with runaway African slaves and taught them this style of seasoning and cooking. Jamaican jerk was further developed by Jamaican Maroons, descendants of these runaway slaves.

The principal ingredients of the Jamaican jerk spice rub or marinade are allspice (dried unripened fruit of Jamaica pepper) and Scotch bonnet (a variety of chili pepper ubiquitous in the Caribbean). Other ingredients may include brown sugar, cinnamon, cloves, garlic, ginger, nutmeg, salt, scallions, soy sauce, and thyme.

Jamaican jerked meat has a smoky taste due to being cooked in oil barrels cut in half and filled with charcoal (a traditional cooking technique that has evolved from pit fires used by Jamaican Maroons to cook meat), on special grills called jerk pans, or in wood-burning ovens. “Jerk stands” offering jerked meat, usually chicken or pork, are a common occurrence in Jamaica and throughout the Caribbean.

Jerk chicken, pork and fish are an essential part of authentic Jamaican cuisine, alongside Jamaican patties, Jamaican festivals, ackee and saltfish, coconut drops, pepper pot soup, coco bread, oxtail, rice and peas, stew peas, and curry goat. What originated as a simple street food has evolved into a dish that can be found even in first-rate restaurants.

National Jamaican Jerk Day was founded by Jamaican Jerk Festival USA, a producer of Jamaican jerk festivals and related events in United States that focuses on promoting this uniquely Jamaican form of culinary art and protecting its authenticity. The holiday was approved by the National Day Archives in 2020 and has been celebrated every year since then.

On the occasion of National Jamaican Jerk Day, Jamaican restaurants, food trucks, delis, supermarkets, grocery stores, and other participating establishments offer various discounts and promotions to their customers. Do not hesitate to take them up on their offers! You also can celebrate by cooking a jerk dish at home and sharing its photos and recipe on social media with the hashtags #NationalJamaicanJerkDay and #JamaicanJerkDay to spread the word about the holiday.

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National Jamaican Jerk Day, food days, observances in the United States, unofficial holidays, Jamaican jerk, Jamaican cuisine