JM | Aug 1, 2022

Jamaican cuisine: What do you eat during the week?

Tamoy Ashman

Tamoy Ashman / Our Today

Man eating different Jamaican dishes (Photo: The Black Foodie)

Culture is the way of life of a people.

There are so many cultural practices that embody what it means to be Jamaican but one cannot deny that it is often the informal cultural practices that bind us closer together. Whether it is a group of people on the street side talking or the food we cook during the week.

If you live in the north, south, east or west of Jamaica, there is one thing that is most common among the older generation, designated meals for specific days.

Though we cannot pinpoint where it all started, some Jamaicans have assigned a dish for specific days of the week. Though in recent times things have changed, there are still some who hold fast to the tradition.

Fried chicken & rice and peas Sunday

(Photo: Milani on Pinterest)

Sunday is undisputedly the day for rice and peas and chicken. From as early as Saturday night or even Sunday morning, you are sure to see some peas soaking in the kitchen. Whether it be gungo or red peas, this is a must! Then, if you make your way to the fridge you won’t have to look too far for the pre-seasoned chicken. Though fried chicken is the popular option, you may be indulging in some fricassee (brown-stewed) chicken. But, vegetables are a must along with some freshly made carrot juice.

Sunday-Monday/Leftover Monday

If you are guilty of throwing away your leftovers from Sunday’s dinner, you are in jeopardy of losing your Jamaican card. Jamaicans do not waste anything. So pack up your rice and peas and chicken and reheat it Monday night or carry it for your lunch.

Stew peas Wednesday

Jamaica Stew peas (Photo: My island Jamaica)

Though a controversial one, stew peas has been dubbed by some Jamaicans as the ‘hump day’ dish. The red peas dish can only be found on a Wednesday in some cookshops across the island and is a popular menu item. However, there are some who prefer to cook it at home, the common saying being ‘Anuh everybody you fi eat stew peas from‘.

‘Fend for yuhself Friday’

Pan chicken being prepared courtesy of CB Chicken at a past staging of the Jamaica Rum Festival. (Photo contributed)

Ah yes! The day when you are sure to starve if you don’t prepare. After a long week of making these mouthwatering dishes, you are sure to hear ‘mi tired man, go find something eat’. Whether it be from your parents or grandparents, these words are sure to be echoed by someone in the family.

Soup-it-up Saturdays

Minister of Local Government and Rural Development Hon. Desmond McKenzie (second right) enjoys a cup of soup prepared by crab vendor Makeisha Walker (second left) following the official opening on the renovated space for crab vendors at National Heroes Circle in Kingston on Thursday (April 21). Observing from left are Director Channel and Customer Marketing, J. Wray and Nephew, Leleika-Dee Barnes and Brand Manager, J. Wray and Nephew, Sasha Warner Campbell. (Photo: JIS)

Nothing pains a Jamaican’s heart like seeing a big pot of soup on the stove when sun inna the middle of the sky. But, ironically we love it. If a Saturday passes and there is no soup we cuss. But, we also cuss when there is soup, saying the time too hot.

The questionable Ts

Tuesdays and Thursdays are a bit puzzling with people from different households cooking different things. You can never truly pinpoint what will be served these days, it is just a matter of wait and see. But, a few options may be curried chicken, brown stewed or even some form of tin food item served with rice or dumplings and banana.

Jamaicans respond

Our Today went into the heart of Half-Way Tree to get the views of some Jamaicans on the topic. Here are their responses:

Paris Heath told Our Today that she hardly has time to cook because of work but Fridays are a definite no.

“Friday evening nobody at my house cook. We just go buy some fry-fry, maybe go KFC but we nuh cook pon Friday,” Heath said.

Elroy Dixon, a security guard in Half-Way Tree said Tuesdays and Thursdays are usually the days when something light is made in his household.

Elena Rodriguez cuts vegetables in the soup kitchen where she works in Pamplona Alta, a low-income neighbourhood on the outskirts of the Peruvian capital where soaring food prices are placing animal proteins out of reach for the most vulnerable residents, in Lima, Peru April 11, 2022. (Photo: REUTERS/Daniel Becerril)

“Pon Tuesday you nuh wah nothing too heavy, cause you eat bare rice from Sunday and Monday. So now, you probably do a likkle mackerel with dumpling or some cabbage. Thursday is the same thing probably do some corn beef or ackee and saltfish,” said Dixon.

For Daman Riley, he is not sure where the tradition came from but in his household soup on a Saturday is a must.

George McLeod said his household is a bit different because “we nuh stick to one set thing we mix it up everyday it all depends pon wah we have inna the house.”

“Yea man soup always cook pon Saturdays. But you have to mix it up, so you do red peas one Saturday, chicken the next and a likkle manish water (goat head soup) affi inna the mix,” said Riley.

In an interview with Joan Miller, a 70-year-old female, she said chicken is a must on Sundays in her house. But she does not cook throughout the week because she finds it taxing.

“Sometimes me will cook some curry chicken or some brown stew, maybe a steam fish but me affi make me vegetable and me June plum or carrot juice,” Miller shared.


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