Thanksgiving: Jamaican Style

November 24, 2015

Each year thousands of people migrate to America from all over the world. My dad popped over some 24 years ago from Jamaica. He moved to America with nothing, but the clothes on his back and a small bag with a few days worth of clothes. One thing is for certain it does not matter where people are from, food always brings people together.

As with most diasporas, people usually bring along things that set them apart  culturally -language, culture, religion, food, etc. Yes, when people migrate to America they aren't Americans immediately, but most people do grow accustomed to celebrating American holidays. As time goes on, various holidays develop different meanings for different people. If you go to a Thai, Vietnamese, Nigerian, Korean, British or Jamaican household on thanksgiving, most of the foods will be representative of each culture. Also, the turkey will have a totally different 'flava' (insert Jamaican accent) than the Pilgrims. 

A Jamaican Thanksgiving

Going to a friend's house who isn't Jamaican is an absolutely, no, no. Knowing the turkey will not be jerked or will not be spicy is enough to say, no thank you. If the person is a good friend, then I usually bring a bottle of Jamaican pepper in my expensive looking purse :))) Then I sneak every single drop :))  Jamaican's love a bit of spice and deep flavors, so prepping and cooking usually starts days before the actual day. Just like most Americans. Honestly, the only part of the turkey Jamaicans care about is the turkey neck. It never even occurred to me when I was growing up, that a turkey had an actual body.  Sorry vegans, vegetarians, and Rastafarians!! I personally didn't like turkey initially because of its lack of flavaaaaaa (insert Jamaican accent)! It was just way too bland and I like my birds tender and brown on the outside. Thankfully, Jamaicans know how to spice up anything. Just a little bit of scotch bonnet pepper and some pimento would take a turkey from bland to amazeballs. A touch of ginger would have guests worshipping the cook. Of course, something will be curried. Usually, goat and chicken because just the bland bird, isn't enough. Like I said, it is just a bit on the dryer side and us Jamaicans like our meat juicy and full of flava (insert Jamaican accent).

Foods to Expect

Expect to see a turkey (not bland), Curry goat, Curry Chicken, Red beans and Rice, Jerk Chicken, Manish Wata, Fish, Fricassee Chicken and Baked Chicken. Also, expect lots of vegetables to be served as well. Though we love to eat meat, we love our veggies equally. Yes, to candied yams! Give me that Sugaaaaaa (insert Jamaican accent).  If it is not a Rastafarian house or vegetarian, then you may find Jerk Pork and Ham at a Jamaican Thanksgiving, too. For dessert, there can be a range of goodies. Of course, Apple Pie and Pumpkin Pie, but the stand out favorites are Jamaican desserts. Sweet Potato Pudding, Jamaican Fruit Cake, and Upside Down Pineapple Pie Cake (not Jamaican, but wi like it) are the real MVPs. I usually can be found by the Rum Punch or dessert table. Just to keep an eye on everything ;)

Adult Beverages

Aside from the food, expect to have a few or more Rum Punches (this is so good, yet lethal), Red Stripe Beer, White Rum, Dark Rum and Sorrel. Sorrel is a traditional Jamaican beverage made from roselle plant and infused with ginger, red wine, rum, cloves, cinnamon and other awesome ingredients. Just a few sips of any of these beverages and all your stress melts away :)


I am not going to boast, but most Jamaicans are natural born entertainer, without even trying. We are very colorful with the things we say and really enjoy joking around. There will be lots of deeeep conversations to be had, but this is not recommended because discussion can get heated. Feelings might be hurt, but no love lost. Conversations are usually very loud and sound almost like a fight because there are no breaks in the conversation and everyone is talking over each other. "Mi nuh mean fi cut yu but..." is a classic way to say that I do not mean to interrupt you but I will. Aside from the conversations, there maybe a friendly game of Dominos or Ludi this may get loud, as well. My father likes to play music on his sound system in the basement, so yes a little dance will ensue at some point. The music will be very load and the house even jerks a bit. Most Jamaicans don't really watch American football, but since we are Jamaicans and we are the best athletes in the world, we can appreciate all sports :D :D My dad and sister loves watching American football and basketball on Thanksgiving Day. They talk trash and always root for different teams. If we had it our way, we would watch real football or track and field. However, we are in America, so we watch what Americans would watch :) ;) I don't understand America football, so while my dad is distracted, it's usually a great time to sneak a rum punch ;)

Click Below for Photo Credits

Insert Jamaican accent all over this post! I am so thankful to be able to share my thoughts and passion on this blog with you. Also, I am so grateful to be alive, happy and well. Jamaican or not, if you are reading this, then I hope you all have a great Thanksgiving. What are you most thankful for this thanksgiving? Stay irie and please leave your thoughts in the comments section below. xo

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