Food

Street Food Saturdays...A Preservation of Culture

The 20th Staging Of The Jamaica Observer Table Talk Food Awards: This evening

Thursday, May 31, 2018

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“Street food is real food,” boasted Chef Simone Walker-Barrett. It's no idle boast! Indeed, the last Saturday of each month is earmarked in Mount James District for Street Food Saturdays, with a trail distinguished by timely signage and locals eager to point you in the right direction.

Surrounded by dense foliage, bamboo shoots, and the sound of the nearby Plantain Garden river Walker-Barrett and her team of student chefs share a single commitment: to preserve traditional Jamaican cuisine using local produce and seasonal fruits.

Chef Walker-Barrett, who also lectures at the School of Hospitality and Tourism Management, the University of Technology (UTech), added that Street Food Saturdays is a way of passing traditional food practices on to the next generation of culinary artists, while incorporating new methodologies. “Most of the staff here today are student chefs. We're all here learning together while learning from each other. Street Food Saturdays was born out of a research paper, actually,” Walker-Barrett told Thursday Food.

“We call ourselves the woodfire gourmet doing the new Jamaican cuisine; 90 per cent of the meals prepared today are done using charcoal or natural wood. Our menu is seasonal and inspired by local ingredients: for instance, apples are in season now so that's featured on the menu in sauces and smoothies,” Walker-Barrett shared.

The ambience was true to the cause, boasting jerk pans, traditional wood and charcoal stoves made from tyre rims, and a street-style chalkboard menu. Although Jamaican cooking amenities have evolved from open, wood-fuelled fires to high-end modern gas and electric ranges with ovens, Street Food Saturdays is a reminder that traditional methods such as the charcoal stove remain relevant to the creation of delicious meals.

The extensive menu catered to a range of palates, offering pastrami plantain lasagne, conch fritters, roasted fish in banana leaves, pimento-brined smoked pork, cheddar polenta, seasonal smoothies and dessert — a stout-infused chocolate bread pudding topped with coffee caramel sauce. Street Food Saturdays harkens back to a Friday night community eatery with a refined twist of culinary expertise.

Our recommendation is that you do not miss the next instalment.

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