Tuesday, September 1, 2009

RIU hotel downplays Jamaican food

Despite all the variety in the buffets at the RIU Montego Bay Hotel in Jamaica, you have to search for the few Jamaican dishes offered each day and hope the cooks haven't botched them.

I spent six nights there, but the national dish, ackee and saltfish, was serve only once and turned out to be way too salty. The genius of this breakfast is the contrast between the soft-but-not-sweet ackee fruit and the salted fish bits, accented with the hot Scotch bonnet pepper. It is usually served with bland boiled green bananas or dumplings (boiled dough).

The Jamaican food usually was placed by itself at the back of the hotel's large Rose Hall Restaurant dining room and some guests couldn't find it. Jamaican cooking shows strong African and Asian Indian influences.

Brown stew chicken appeared two or three days in a row, and I wondered if it was the same food served over and over. My wife had some curry goat, which she liked, though I never saw it again. But the extraordinary steamed fish with okra or fiery escovitch fish (whole fish pan or deep fried and served with hot peppers) never appeared. And where were the Jamaican patties -- the island's empanadas, filled with beef, chicken, vegetables or fish?

Jerk chicken and pork, two of the most beloved dishes on the island, weren't served in the restaurants at all, but were offered daily at a beach kiosk. But jerk, which is a rub of several spices and hot pepper, wasn't used. The roasted poultry and meat were served with a mild or a so-called spicy jerk sauce.


  1. Unfortunately, Jamaican hotels do not serve alot of authentic Jamaican food because they believe that the tourists want to have food that they are used to back at home

  2. I agree, and also feel that's too bad. For me, travel provides me the chance to try food on its home ground, so to speak. In other words, food is one of the reasons I travel and I have so many great memories of meals I have enjoyed over the years.


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