Jerk TV: Jamaica on “Bizarre Foods”

Words by Jesse Serwer

Jerk pork, curry goat, Ital stew, saltfish fritters, escoveitched snapper and mannish water don’t seem that strange to us but we getย  why they’d appear exotic to folks who aren’t familiar with Jamaican cuisine. The aforementioned dishes are among those featured on tonight’s episode of Bizarre Foods, the Travel Channel series which spotlights little-known local delicacies around the world, hosted by Andrew Zimmern. (One of the show’s earliest episodes featured Trinidad, where Zimmern was served iguana, cow heel soup, callaloo and Bake and Shark.)

Stops on the Jamaica episode, which airs at 9 PM ET/PT,ย  include Scotchies and Cherry’s One Stop in Ocho Rios, the Ishanti Ital restaurant in Kingston, Aunt Merle’s Fish Shack on Hellshire Beach, and the Faith’s Pen food stalls outside of Ochi. And in one segment that lives up to the show’s name, Zimmern joins fishermen hunting for poisonous lionfish, a recent arrival to the Caribbean from the Pacific and Indian oceans that has been gobbling up native species, in Discovery Bay on the North Coast. TV programs that exoticize local customs walk a thin line in our book but, based on the diversity of stops, viewers of the episode should come out with a broad overview of the diversity of Jamaican food culture. Preview here.