Before I left for Jamaica I was already mentally preparing my blog post for when I returned. I thought I will incorporate the love of food that I experienced while taking the advice of every travel writer to get to know the locals vs. having an aristocratic understanding of exotic places in an effort to prove that I ‘get it’. This has become cliché so I decided to skip it. Anyway, Bourdain has already eloquently covered the local perspective. I was there to relax, and maybe drink a Red Stripe or two if offered (you know, in an effort to maintain world-wide diplomacy). I didn’t ask the chefs ‘what do you cook at home’ while waiting for my omelet because I know I don’t like to be bothered when I’m trying to feed a surge of patrons as quickly as possible. I didn’t want to think about work. When asked, I told people I worked for the CIA. I did not critique the food; I decided to be thankful for a decent meal instead. It’s hard to put a little love in food that has to cater to such a varying degree of palettes. But love and I found each other at a humble eating establishment recommended by the resort staff (always, always, always ask the staff where they eat, especially the chefs) called Scotchies.
Oh yes, Scotchies. This place was recommended to us by friends in the States as well. When we arrived, the smell of the wood fire grill was heavy in the air. It literally felt like it was give us a big bear hug. There was no middle ground: either the food is going to be really good, or really terrible. It had no central roof; only umbrellas over the tables and tin awnings. But no matter; who needs a roof in paradise? You don’t go expecting cloth napkins and ambiance (although, it does have ambiance in spades). You go for the food.
What shall we order? Decisions, decisions. We went for the gusto and ordered all of the meats, and the fish. We skipped side dishes. I didn’t have a chance to chat up the grill masters to get some pointers on grilling. There were hungry patrons to feed after all, and the meter was running on our taxi. We scurried back to our room. A meal such as this requires a wardrobe change into something with an elastic waist band.
The food was remarkable. Each meat had a distinct flavor even though it was all prepared on the same grill. There was of course jerk chicken and pork. There was also pork sausage and chicken sausage, and fish cooked in foil with onions, green peppers, and okra. Everything was seasoned simply so the flavor of the meat was not masked. In the 6 years that we’ve been married, I have never heard my husband go on about anything I prepared like he did about Scotchies. I attributed it to us not having a good meal in days, so I gave him a pass – just this once. The only thing missing was bread to make a sandwich (room service to the rescue!). And dag on it I forgot to ask for sauce!
Ahhhh, there’s the love: good food, Caribbean sunset, a warm breeze, a cold Red Stripe…and a nap.