What Jamaican for dinner?

Sorry. Couldn’t resist.

I was in Negril over the weekend, and I had high hopes (which weren’t disappointed) for the beaches and the breakfasts, but I hadn’t found too many promising leads for other meals. As expected, most of the joints were the soulless, tourist-trap type, which we were mostly successful in steering clear of, thankfully.

And then we found

The Jerk Joint, a little shack facing the ocean with just a handful of tables. At first glance it doesn’t seem like much. And in fact, on our first visit, a cranky old lady manned the counter, and it took the intercession of a local to convince her to hand over some coco bread with our Red Stripes. The coco bread was only okay.

Who knows what convinced us to go back. Could be that one of the tables was filled with locals when we passed by it later. (Likely friends of Tony, the actual owner and cook, since they disappeared once we decided to sit down for dinner.) When we asked what Tony had to eat, he mentioned some jerk chicken, but then spoke the magic words: “You like pork? I made some real Jamaican pork today too.” Bingo.

Jamaican pork is a lot like my mom’s pork, turns out. Tony roasted some super fatty belly — ribs still attached — and served it with saucy sautéed onions and peppers, (boiled? steamed?) yams, both white and yellow, he explained, and some dense dumplings he proudly told us he made himself from cornmeal and regular flour. It was all delicious. It was honest. You could taste the love. It was exactly what we’d been looking for.

It was so good we vowed to go again the next day. That evening, it threatened to rain, so we decided to get takeout. Tony said something about fish, but then he smiled and told us he was also frying up chicken.

Yes, please.

Yes.

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