Cultural cross-pollination has lead to many great dishes over the course of culinary history. The chicken tikka masala beloved by this nation was first invented by Indian émigrés who wanted to adapt a native curry to suit British palates. The impact of American culture on the French areas of Canada is said to be what first lead to the wonderfully unique dish that consists of French fries, gravy and cheese curds. Even fast food brands like McDonalds are known to cater their recipes to suit the tastes of nation that each particular branch is in, resulting in famed offerings such as the Marmite topped bun in Australia.
Britain, and London in particular, are famed for their adoption of various food cultures. The sheer diversity of food cultures mingling in the capital’s streets is a testament to its welcoming attitude and desire to try new things. The Empire also inspired as much as it adopted, however, and there are many examples of English cuisine taking root on foreign soil. The patty is one such dish: a Jamaican treat that involves a crescent shaped pastry case and a savoury filling. That will immediately sound familiar to Brits, both phonetically and culturally, as it seems to closely resemble a pasty.
It was indeed inspired by the pasty; however, it utilized the exotic ingredients available in the Caribbean to their fullest. Cayenne pepper and scotch bonnets formed a potent combination, one that was perfectly complimented by beef, coconut and the curry seasonings sourced from elsewhere in the colonies. They quickly grew popular and these days they are a staple in many Southern US states and some of the more multicultural Northern cities. Until now, this popular treat was something that had yet to make it to British shores and one that many returning from the Jamaican sun wished they could enjoy again.
A new start-up, aptly named the Jamaican Patty Co, is looking to change that. Located in the ultra competitive Covent Garden, it opens at the end of the month and is hoping to bring in customers with its big flavors and gorgeous combinations. Already there’s a bit of a social media buzz, with lovers of that culinary elated to find that soon they’ll have more of a choice than simple jerk chicken when it comes to Jamaican food in the capital. Whether the patties will be served in their traditional wrappers – sweet, soft coco bread – remains to be seen however.
The rise of street food has been the subject of many column inches in recent times, and seeing it move inwards is a positive sign indeed. Many chefs and businesses offering cultural snacks or light meals head to the likes of Dalston or Shoreditch, where experimentation is much more common. So far they’ve been highly successful, however, cracking the big time and making Covent Garden their own is the ultimate dream.
Theresa Roberts, the business’s owner, thinks that her company may be able to do just that. Describing herself a real patriot, Theresa is proud of her roots and believes that Jamaican food culture can wow the UK. By her side is Collin Brown, one of the most high profile champions of Jamaican cuisine in the country. Twice voted Caribbean Chef of the Year, he became the first Caribbean chef to be awarded the prestigious AA Rosette Award for excellence. Their combined enthusiasm and talent will be the key to taking on the big players and opening up the thousands of visitors in Covent Garden to the food that they feel passionately about.
What are your experiences of Caribbean cuisine?