Tag Archives: Food

Ackee and Saltfish: Slave Food to National Dish

If I tell you, you are the ackee to my saltfish, it means I can’t live without you. It means without you I am incomplete. It is interesting to note however that at the Northern Caribbean University they serve ackee and ‘saltish’ where a plant-based substitute is used in lieu of saltfish, given meat is not allowed on campus. Dare I say, that is an incomplete meal? Ackee and saltfish is my favorite Jamaican dish. Coincidently it is the ‘national dish’. It is hard to express in words the taste of ackee and saltfish but a mixture of creamy, buttery and nutty is a good summary.

Ackee to a man’s heart

Ackee is not usually eaten in most other Caribbean countries (unless it’s by a Jamaican). It is considered poisonous and if not mature or cooked properly, it is indeed poisonous. But as they say, low risk, low reward, high risk, high reward. When ripe, the pods are a mixture of yellow, red and Donald Trump orange and they naturally open to reveal the two to four seeds (mostly three). I remember a trip to Trinidad and Tobago I saw an ackee tree loaded with ackee at the UWI St. Augustine campus with no interest among the locals in reaping it. My heart sank. Whenever I go home to the country and it’s ackee season. I take as much as I can carry back to town, cook it and store in my freezer so I can have it whenever. That’s how much I love it.

Ready for storage

How did it get here?

Ackee and salt fish was listed among National Geographic’s top 10 national dishes. Ackee, however, originates from West Africa. It was brought here from West Africa during slavery and it is believed to have been brought here as a cheap nutritious alternative to feed slaves. Salt fish was also brought here as well by slave owners to feed slaves. Ackee and salt fish got married and have been simmering happily ever after. It is also important to note that bread fruit was also brought here to feed slaves however, initially slaves refused to eat it. After slavery Ackee and saltfish was still a very cheap meal and so it remained a part of the diet and has survived through generations. It is interesting to note that the price of salt fish now makes it a luxury item.

How to cook ackee and saltfish like a pro.

After decades of practice I think I now prepare ackee perfectly. Here’s what I do: First I pick and clean the ackee fruit, ensuring the entire seed is removed and place ackee in boiling water with a little salt for six to seven minutes and no longer. Once done drain and set aside. Boil the saltfish to remove excess salt (you can cook ackee in same pot with saltfish). Remove the scales from the fish and pick it into small pieces. Set aside. Chop up the following 7 seasonings; onion, scallion, tomato, thyme, garlic, sweet pepper and half of a hot pepper. Sauté seasonings in vegetable oil then add saltfish and stir occasionally for 3 minutes. Add ackee and sprinkle a pinch of black pepper. Mix at low heat for another six to seven minutes keeping the lid of the pot closed when not mixing. That’s it!

Man made dumplings

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The University Of The West Indies Supports Farmers

Imagine a world where you could shop for fresh produce at an upper class University but pay downtown prices. Well you don’t have to imagine it, the University of the West Indies (UWI) has made it possible.

UWI Farmers Market August 2015 www.lifeofajamaican.wordpress.com

This Friday UWI will host yet another farmers market to make it easier for students and staff to access quality fresh produce at the most competitive prices. At the end of each month UWI invites sellers from the Coronation Market (Downtown) to sell their food on campus. They are given tents which are placed on the lawns directly across from the School of Nursing or MITS, Just beside the new hall.

The farmers sell all the ground provisions, fresh fruits and vegetables that are currently available or in season.

UWI Farmer's Market www.lifeofajamaican.com

Cars line up to get it while its hot.



Feel free to negotiate with the farmers, they are very reasonable!




I always try to make it early, so I can catch the worms. #earlybird
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With prices so low, they are literally saving students’ lives!


Lovely flowers are also sold. Enjoy shopping in the ambiance defined by good Jamaican music.


This union UWI has formed with the farmers/sellers is mutually beneficial and I hope this initiative continues indefinitely. What I would really like is for this event to be hosted a little more frequently. If staged every fortnight it would eliminate the need to travel to downtown to purchase food. Given the shelf life of fresh food, students and staff would still have to visit downtown while they wait for the next farmer’s market.

-Aldeam Facey 2015

Jamaican Cornmeal Pudding Recipe

Cornmeal pudding is very easy to prepare and has been a favorite among Jamaicans for as long as I can remember.


3 Cups Cornmeal

3/4 Cups Flour

2 Cups Sugar

1 Teaspoon Salt

2 Teaspoon Cinnamon Extract

1 Teaspoon Grated Nutmeg

1 Teaspoon Mixed Spice

2 Teaspoon Vanilla

1 Sachet of Maggie Coconut Milk

Raisins (optional)


Mix the cornmeal, flour, sugar and salt together.


Add water to mix the sachet of coconut milk then slowly add coconut milk to the dry ingredients (2 cups of water is needed)


Add vanilla, mixed spice, cinnamon extract and grated nutmeg. Add raisins if desired then pour mixture into baking tin and bake at 375 degrees (F) for 1.5 hours.



Allow it to cool for at least 1 hour before you devour.


– Aldeam Facey 2015

The Best Place To Buy Food At The UWI Mona Campus

The University of the West Indies, Mona Campus, is the largest and most recognized tertiary institution in Jamaica. The campus accommodates thousands of local and international students of varying cultural backgrounds. It becomes quite necessary for the university to provide many dining options to facilitate the students’ diverse  palate.

It is very hard to find a place to purchase food that is easy on the pocket, great tasting, and has fast customer service. In most cases you have to choose two of the three options. Below are a list of the places you can purchase cooked food on campus and their raking. The list below is very subjective and is completely based on my personal experiences. The prices, menus and service stated are subject to change at the discretion of the business.

1. Yao UWI

DSC_0117_1DSC_0118 2

Yes, Yao UWI branch is still in business, unbelievable?…..believe it! In my opinion this is the worst tasting food you can buy on campus. This is not an attempt to degrade the quality of food Yao, the Chinese fast food franchise provides, as its Sovereign branch makes a superb sweet and sour chicken that not only keeps me coming back for more, but is one of the reasons I am not a vegetarian as yet. If you are accustomed to the Sovereign branch, do not expect the same quality at the UWI branch, you will be disappointed. I am not the only one who has experienced this, but after eating at Yao UWI, I feel really really bloated. The good thing about Yao UWI is their fast service, and cost. A small meal cost $300 and they really pack your box! At Yao, you never have to wait very long.

Yao UWI 5/10

2. The Spot

Comparatively speaking, Yao sells more for less when compared to their neighbors, The Spot. The Spot, however sells way better tasting, Jamaican food in a comfortable environment designed to entertain. With a pool table, flat screen TV, slushes and alcoholic beverages, this restaurant truly hits, ‘the spot’. Waiting time is not optimized especially when serving a lot of customers, but the environment compensates for this inconvenience.

The Spot 7/10

3. Social Welfare 

Immediately across from the health center, lies a secret most students don’t know. But those who do, more often than not give great reviews. The food (Jamaican) tastes very pleasing in a nice, closed, quiet environment. The price, though not the best for the quantity, does not put a politician in your pocket.

Social Welfare 6.5/10

4. Mae’s Cafeteria

The food isn’t very good, but the price is quite affordable. Attached to the Mary Seacole Hall, a nice environment and low waiting times the only real complaint I have is the food, which is the most important. I do not recommend Mae’s Cafeteria.

Mae’s Cafeteria 5/10

5. Bee Hive

Bee Hive

One of the most popular places to buy quality cooked Jamaican food on campus. Opening at 7 with a diverse breakfast menu what anyone can afford, Bee Hive is thriving. You can buy fried dumplings in the morning and if you cannot afford the stewed chicken which cost $220 then you can have your dumplings with gravy for just an extra $20. With a friendly staff, Bee Hive ensures that everyone is satisfied. The biggest disadvantage with this restaurant is the waiting time. At about mid-day the waiting line may extend beyond the honey comb and the wait is very long. The price for a small meal is $340 and they tend to offer free fried dumplings in your meals to ensure nothing gets wasted. They also cater for vegetarians, offering meatless meals daily.

campus food (4)

Bee Hive 7.3/10

6. Page’s Cafe

Pages Cafe is the most upscale place to buy food on campus. With their ‘Gourmet Thursdays’ often featuring grilled salmon and their unique daily menus, it is the spot for UWI staff members. The cost of each meal, however, is nothing to smile about. Quality food, but less than acceptable customer service and high prices kicks Pages out of the book for the number 1 spot.

Pages Cafe 6.9/10

7. Juicy Patties

Juicy patties

Juicy is the most popular fast food franchise on campus. It is the number one choice for most students because the meals are not costly. The food sold for lunch are not very substantial but there is a lot from which you may choose. Juicy Patties offer an excellent breakfast menu including fritters, porridges, fried and cooked dumplings, chicken, callaloo and the best steamed fish you can buy on campus. Due to high demands, the restaurant has been optimized for fast service.

Juicy Patties 7.5/10

8. Bucks


A fresh look and a new name for the cafeteria located right beside the UWI maintenance department. In my experience their only limitation is their ridiculously long waiting times. In time, I trust this will be resolved, but for now:

Bucks 6/10

9. KFC

KFC – No good. The prices and the waiting times are the primary disadvantages of this franchise. The food is okay, if you like KFC. But there isn’t anything else I can positively say about it.

Everybody does it better.

KFC 5.5/10

10. The best place to buy cooked food on campus

Very recently I was introduced to this place by a friend. After trying it out, deciding which place was the best place to buy food on campus was easy as ABC. Yes, ABC Hall cafeteria, in my view, hits the spot. great tasting food, very affordable and very quick customer service. Many persons do not know this place exists as it is so far from the general campus population, but it is totally worth the walk. a small meal cost $290 and they do not hold back on the quantity. If you are able to close the box of food you receive, then return to Life of a Jamaican, for a full refund.

campus food (3)

campus food (2)
I dare you to close it.

ABC Cafeteria 8/10

Honorable Mention

A.Z Preston Hall Cafeteria and Taylor Hall Cafeteria. Both are very affordable, food tastes pleasing and very low waiting times. Limited by their location.

Both 6.5/10

Dukkuno Deli, located along the Ring Road just across from Mona school of business, offers pizza, salads, burgers and special drinks such as the ‘Mochaccino’ which is a coffee-chocolate blend. The prices are very high so only a select few make the Deli their daily choice.

Dukkuno Deli 6.5/10

– Aldeam Facey 2015

Curried Snapper Fillet Recipe

I like fish but sometimes I find difficulty deciding the best method to cook a particular type of fish. Do I steam? Do I fry? Experience teaches wisdom and after several attempts, currying the snapper fillets is my favorite method.


1 Pack of Rain Forest Foods Snapper Fillet

1 Teaspoon Maggie all purpose seasoning

1 Teaspoon Indian curry powder

1/2 Teaspoon Turmeric powder

A pinch of salt (optional)

1/2 Teaspoon Black pepper

2 Teaspoon Ketchup

2 Teaspoon Fish and meat sauce

1 Carrot

1 Onion


Scotch bonnet pepper

Sweet pepper


Cut the fish fillet into small cubes about 1.5 cm. Add the all purpose seasoning, the turmeric, black pepper, salt and curry powder. Mix to ensure even distribution of seasonings. Chop and add the carrot.

Cut Fish Fillet
Cut Fish Fillet

Seasoned Fish Fillet
Seasoned Fish Fillet

Chop onion, scallion, 1/4 of a sweet pepper and 1/4 Scotch bonnet pepper. Fry in oil until translucent.

Onion Scallion and pepper

Fry Until Translucent
Fry Until Translucent

Add the seasoned fish fillet, fry for 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Add 2/3 of a cup of water, the ketchup and the sauce.



Allow it to simmer for 10 minutes.

Enjoy with some rice and peas.


– Aldeam Facey 2015

Jamaican Peanut Porridge Recipe

I am not a lover of porridges, but when it comes to peanut porridge, I make an exception. What was once a strange meal, only to be found in diverse places such as in a big pot on a Rasta man’s cart passing through the Spanish Town bus terminus early in the weekday mornings is now a very popular, highly requested breakfast choice. There are several ways to make it but this method is my personal favorite.


1 lb Dried Raw Peanuts

3 teaspoon Flour

3 teaspoon Cornmeal

1/2 grated nutmeg

1 Cinnamon stick (cinnamon powder/extract also works)

2 teaspoon Vanilla

1/2 teaspoon of salt (or to taste)

1 Sachet of powdered coconut milk

1 Can of condensed milk


Boil about 700mls (3 cups) of water then add a cinnamon stick and the salt.

Blend peanuts until powdery and add the flour cornmeal and powdered coconut milk.

grated peanuts
grated peanuts

Add a small amount of water and slowly make a paste. Add increasing volumes of water to mix without forming lumps. Add the mixture to the boiling water and allow it to boil for 15 minutes stirring frequently. Add the vanilla and nutmeg to the boiling mix then decrease the heat to simmer for another 15 minutes (or until desired thickness is achieved).

Peanut porridge boiling

Sweeten with condensed milk.

condensed milk


Peanut porridge

– Aldeam Facey 2015

Here Is Why You Should Not Eat Pork

A week ago I was at a breakfast, I was careful to inquire about the meat kinds served as I requested that no swine be served at my table. Unfortunately, the consumers of swine out-numbered me 6 to 1 and though I was the only man at the table, the head, the ‘gender in charge’, the chosen leader, authority was usurped and as a result swine was the primary meat served. They encouraged me to try it as they claimed: “A half of your life is gone” or “A di best meat dis eva!”. I had my ackee with salted cod fish and escoveitched fish as they slowly savored every bite, looking at me as they moaned with pleasure, but I was not tempted, I was not swayed by the swine. Rasta nuh deal wid unclean meat!

"You are what you eat"
“You are what you eat”

There are several reasons pork should not be eaten I will state a few below:

Biblical Reason

If you are a Christian, a follower of the bible, then this reason should be substantial.

Leviticus11: 1-3

And the Lord spake unto Moses and to Aaron, saying unto them,

Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, These are the beasts which ye shall eat among all the beasts that are on the earth.

Whatsoever parteth the hoof, and is clovenfooted, and cheweth the cud, among the beasts, that shall ye eat.

Leviticus11: 7-8

And the swine, though he divide the hoof, and be clovenfooted, yet he cheweth not the cud; he is unclean to you.

Of their flesh shall ye not eat, and their carcase shall ye not touch; they are unclean to you.

Deuteronomy 14: 8

And the swine, because it divideth the hoof, yet cheweth not the cud, it is unclean unto you: ye shall not eat of their flesh, nor touch their dead carcase.

So imagine, God made us, and made all creatures and he clearly says “Do not eat so and so”, why eat it? This kinda reminds me of Adam and Eve, we really are their children.

So here is where is gets interesting.

Acts 10: 11-15

And saw heaven opened, and a certain vessel descending upon him, as it had been a great sheet knit at the four corners, and let down to the earth:

Wherein were all manner of fourfooted beasts of the earth, and wild beasts, and creeping things, and fowls of the air.

And there came a voice to him, Rise, Peter; kill, and eat.

But Peter said, Not so, Lord; for I have never eaten any thing that is common or unclean.

And the voice spake unto him again the second time, What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common.

So this happened in a vision but provided that God never changes.

Malachi 3: 6

For I am the Lord, I change not.

Can this justify God’s approval for the consumption of… anything? No. I don’t serve a confused God. Analyze the context of the scripture carefully!

Also look at it this way. One part of the bible says DO NOT EAT the other says eat what God made clean. Would it hurt not to eat it? Wouldn’t you be in the safe zone if you didn’t? Are you starving and pork is the only option? (pork is NOT cheap!)

It is also significant to note that Jesus was a Jew and as such would not eat pork. So before you take another bite just ask: What would Jesus eat? I’m just following Jesus that’s all.


Taenia Solium is the adult tapeworm found in contaminated pork. Please note that almost 70% of pork meat is contaminated. The larvae of the tapeworm causes “cysticercosis”. This is usually caused by ingestion of the eggs (ova) which was passed in the stool. The larvae can cause neurocysticercosis if it gets to the central nervous system.

The very dangerous bacteria Yersinia enterocolitica, according to research published in 2012, was found to infect most samples of pork! If pigs are properly raised, killed and prepared, the likelihood of infection decreases but the risk is significantly higher when compared to other meat kinds.

I am not saying eating pork is sinful. I am not saying you are going to hell for eating it! I just want my fellow brothers and sisters to live a happy healthy life, pleasing to God.

Feel free to share your views below.

– Aldeam Facey 2015

Jamaican Sweet Potato Pudding Recipe

“Fire a top, fire a bottom and hallelujah inna di middle”. I’m sure you have heard that before and you know exactly what I’m talking about. It is the traditional method used to make one of Jamaica’s favorite pastries, sweet potato pudding, using a coal fire above and below the pudding to enable a quick and thorough cooking. I used to look forward to my granny’s sweet potato pudding after church, or my mother’s on a Sunday evening. My mother makes it with that sweet jelly layer on top that very few have been able to duplicate (patent pending ;)).

Many of us may not have the resources needed to make sweet potato pudding using the traditional technique but I’ll share with you the method I use. Sweet potato pudding with a modern twist, while maintaining that rich flavor.

Ingredients (this makes one 9 in pudding)

1 lb Sweet Potato (grated)

1/2 lb Flour

1/2 lb Cornmeal

1/2 lb Sugar

1 Sachet Maggie coconut milk (or one coconut – preferred)

1 Nutmeg

2 1/2 ml (1/2 teaspoon) Vanilla

1/2 teaspoon Cinnamon powder or extract

1/2 teaspoon grated Ginger

1/2 teaspoon Chiffon butter

A “toops” of salt


Peel and grate the sweet potato.

Grated sweet potato

Add the flour, cornmeal and sugar then mix. Mix the sachet of coconut milk slowly by adding a small volume of water to make a thick cream then adding increasing volumes of water up to about 250 ml (a little over a cup full). Add 2 pinches of salt (none if you are hypertensive), add the grated ginger, cinnamon, vanilla and about 1/3 of a grated nutmeg. Add the butter (melted) and mix well. Some persons add rum and or raisins to their pudding, you may if you chose. Allow the ingredients to get to know each other for about 10-15 minutes.

Sweet potato pudding mix

Pour into a 9″ baking tin and bake at 375 degrees Fahrenheit (190 degrees Celsius) for 1 hour 45 minutes (give or take). I use a toaster oven because i’m just a poor boy (you may purchase 1 at Mega Mart for less than 5k) but a gas stove or electric stove works just as well.

Toaster Oven

Allow it to cool for about 1 1/2 hours. It smells so good! Enjoy and share with friends and family.


I really enjoyed this one. So much so, I shared it with everyone (via facebook)I couldn't wait for it to cool.

Feel free to let me know how yours turned out.

– Aldeam Facey

I’ve Been Shopping For Food All Wrong! Markets VS Supermarkets

I have been shopping at the supermarket for years. I like the convenience of having all the items I need in one place. Brooklyn supermarket is a prime example with foods ranging from freshly produced fruits and vegetables to the frozen remains of slaughtered animals. It is a great business idea to have everything in one place and ‘food stores’ such as Empire supermarket and MegaMart appear to be thriving through the implementation of this idea. Usually convenience comes at a cost, and in this case the cost is great! Shopping for a two week supply of food at any of these ‘one stop shops’ at times produce a bill of over 14,000 JMD and that is just for me (no I am not fat). I have come to realize that shopping at these superstores is like cutting a hole in my pocket before pouring in the money. Given the sliding dollar and the climbing cost of living, I had to find a way to ‘mek the dolla stretch’.

Women have generally been good at ‘stretching’ the dollar and I still don’t know how my granny fed so many with so little, only Jesus knows. Many suggestions from female friends have indicated that shopping at the Downtown market will save me loads in cash. The question was, would the possible savings at downtown compensate for the risk! But then again, what’s the worst that could happen in Downtown? I decided to give this market thing a try just to see what the savings are like. I shopped at the supermarket only for items I simply could not find at the market and completed my shopping at the Papine market.

Papine Market
Papine Market

The result was amazing, the savings were unbelievable! I picked up more items than I could carry and it cost so little in comparison to the supermarket. The produce were fresh and had never been on a refrigerator, there was much more to chose from, I could negotiate and the customer service was top notch! The first sellers I encountered at the papine market were a couple, really nice people the transaction was as follows:

Seller: “Hello mi can sell you sumting?”

l stopped and viewed their very presentable display then started to pick up random foods. I got a pound of yellow yam, a few sweet potatoes (which I used to make a mean potato pudding, I’ll share the recipe soon) onions, scallion, thyme, tomatoes, a sweet pepper and some ackee.

Me: “Ho much mi owe you?”

Some quick calculations revealed the total.

Seller: “$730″

I thought for a second she made an error but she turned out to be  sharper mathematician than I was. I gave her $700 and fumbled through my wallet for the remaining $30.

Seller:”Dat aright man”

So there I got a discount without asking for it.  Try getting such a deal at a supermarket. l went to another seller to get some fruits as the couple were the Ground provision and vegetables specialists. I stopped at another lady’s booth where I saw a freshly cut melon. I asked the price and expressed my interest in purchasing. To my surprise she told me it’s not so sweet and she doesn’t recommend it! Amazed! So I saved quite a bit of cash and I had fresh fruits and vegetables. That’s what I call a win win. They now have themselves a life long customer. You may think I am strange for not knowing this sooner but I’m sure there are others locked in the closet of convenience as I was, suffocating due to the smoke of their burning cash.

Beautiful Stall
Beautiful Stall

Please form a mutually beneficial relationship with our farmers, support them and save.  It’s time we stopped purchasing high priced imported foods which are easily accessible locally for much less.

– Aldeam Facey 2015