That is a banana pod! And those are baby bananas (or banana hearts)!
Follow Me Foodie to the Prospect Plantation in Jamaica!
Come mister tally man tally me bananas
(daylight come and me wanna go home)
lift six foot seven foot eight foot bunch!
(daylight come and me wanna go home)”
- Day O Lyrics, by Harry Belafonte
I was invited on a culinary press trip to Jamaica and we were taken to Prospect Plantation in Ocho Rios, Jamaica to learn about Jamaica’s agriculture. I know. Snooze right? That’s what I thought too, but I’m also the kind of person to be excited about almost everything. So after a hearty Jamaican breakfast at Sandals Royal Plantation, I was ready to hike and learn about where my food that morning actually came from.
The culinary itinerary read “visit Prospect Plantation”, and being the foodie I am, I misunderstood what that really meant. I thought we were going to a plantain factory and that we were going to have a plantain chip sampling. I thought it was going to be like visiting the Dole Pineapple Factory in Hawaii! Boy, I was so wrong. I know what a plantation is, but I guess I was just in major foodie mode… but plants?! Visiting plants?! I felt like I was 10 again going to the tulip festival with mom. On the other hand, visiting plants that grow food?! Now that’s more like it!
And this is overgrown Marijuana. No, just kidding! But that’s what our tour guide called it and I almost believed him! It’s actually sugarcane! We also saw cassava, coffee, allspice, lime, ackee, pimento and many other crops on this tour.
I’d never get to see these plants in Vancouver, so it was pretty interesting for a foodie, but I won’t deny that there were times when I wanted to jump off the jitney to actually pick the things. On the other hand, it was October and this isn’t a working farm, so the fruits and vegetables you see are limited. Also, if you really want a true Jamaican coffee experience and to see coffee crops, I suggest visiting the Blue Mountain Coffee – see my experience here.
Along the way we made a stop at the coconut tree where we were greeted by this talented barefoot man. He ended up climbing the tree to fetch us coconuts. I’ve seen this done in Thailand before, but I’m always still in awe! I can’t even climb a rope.
After fetching the coconut, he opened it right on the spot so we could enjoy fresh coconut milk and coconut. I have to give a major shout out to both these gentlemen. They made the tour so entertaining and were half the experience! The whole thing was a comedy show and that’s how they arrange all of their tours. It’s literally a hilarious ride around the plantation and their like for sarcasm was so unexpected and well delivered that I never knew when they were telling the truth. They’re witty and smart jokes and they couldn’t make learning about plants more fun! Unless they were in costumes… hmm.
This is a breadfruit! It’s a very popular Jamaican ingredient that shows up at almost every meal. It’s treated just like bread and the name could not be more literal. It exists in South East Asia too, but it doesn’t come up nearly as often. In Jamaica it’s one of their side starches and when it’s raw it’s green, but after it’s roasted it’s brown. (That may not sound too surprising). I only tried it roasted, so I’m not sure what it tastes like raw, but when it’s cooked I found it rather bland and boring. It just tastes like a very starchy and fibrous potato or yucca root, but much lighter in weight and not juicy at all. I had it along with authentic Jerk chicken in Jamaica (see my post for Scotchies), and pretty much with everything else.
Since I was visiting in October they were into their fall ingredients and pumpkin is a big one! In Vancouver we would call the above an acorn squash, but they call it a pumpkin, which people sometimes do here as well. It was everywhere though. Pumpkin rice and pumpkin soup came up most often, which I have no problems with since I love pumpkin. I think I was most intrigued by this! It’s a banana pod! So cute right!? He’s actually lifting up a banana petal and underneath are the baby bananas, or banana hearts.
They’re not edible yet (apparently they are) and they looked like delicate flower petals and it was hard to imagine that these would eventually grow into bananas! There were so many of them! It was like the Cabbage Patch Kids and I wanted to just take them all home with me! And put them in pyjamas!
Ackee! I was hoping to see this! In Vancouver we can only get canned versions of it, so it was great to see the real thing. Ackee is most commonly used in Jamaica’s national breakfast dish, which is Ackee and Saltfish. I had it numerous times there. I had it once in Vancouver at Jamaican Pizza Jerk, and I loved it from the first time! It was actually very authentic, despite it being canned ackee, but it’s the only resource for the ingredient and therefore very acceptable.
The fruit is surprisingly poisonous. It’s only when it’s fully ripe and opened, like the one above, that it becomes safe to eat. The fruit is the yellow part underneath the black seed and it is cooked in ackee and salt fish. The texture is reminiscent of durian, but it has no rancid smell. I could just tell it was one of those cholesterol rich fruits and it’s super creamy and almost silky smooth like scrambled eggs after it’s chopped up and cooked.
Moo! No I mean ___ ? What sound does a camel make? Hack too? No that’s the sound of people spitting in China (j/k… sort of), but this camel actually didn’t spit, although I’m sure he does. I heard him working up to one, but he never actually did it in front of me. What a gentleman!
I keep calling it a he, but it’s actually a she. Meet Katie! I know! Such a random name for a camel! And I know!! Even more random that there was a camel in Jamaica. This is where the tour got a bit Disneyland, but Disneyland can be fun!
On another note, I couldn’t help but to think how something so scary looking could be so delicious. No they don’t eat them here and I didn’t see them on any menus in Jamaica, but ostrich is edible. And it’s delicious! It’s more common in Asia (ha! surprise, surprise), but they’re really good! It tastes like super tender and lean beef, but it’s still juicy! If you’re in Vancouver you can get try it at Pink Elephant Thai – see Double “O” Lettuce Wrap.