A cookbook charting 500 years of influence on the vibrant cuisine of Jamaica, written by acclaimed food writer Melissa Thompson.
Acclaimed food writer and chef Melissa Thompson takes us on a journey to this Caribbean jewel through 80 recipes and more than 500 years of history and influences. The recipes include classic Jamaican favorites, such as Jerk Pork, Braised Oxtail, Ackee & Saltfish, and Peanut Punch, as well as original dishes created with Jamaica’s abundant natural larder and twists on classics.
This beautiful cookbook features in-depth research into the evolution of Jamaica’s food. It charts the contribution of indigenous Jamaicans, the Taino. It follows the impact of colonization, and how the periods under Spanish and British rule left an indelible mark on the nation’s gastronomy, without shying away from their brutality: Eyewitness accounts describe the barbarity of the colonial powers. And it recounts how enslaved men and women from West and Central Africa brought inspiration from home and familiar cooking techniques to create legacy dishes that are still celebrated today. The contribution of Indian and Chinese indentured workers is also examined. These stories are woven into the recipes, so the reader is invested in the dishes they cook.
About the Author
Melissa Thompson is an award-winning writer and cook who started a popular supper club in 2014. A former feature writer for a national newspaper, in 2015 she left journalism to pursue her love of cooking, with the supper club growing into a sell-out pop-up across locations in London. Born in Dorset to a Jamaican father and Maltese mother, her food has always been an eclectic celebration of cuisines around the world. She won the Guild of Food Writers’ Food Writing Award in 2021.
Longlisted for the Art of Eating Prize 2023
“A masterful work and a must for any lover of the food of Jamaica and the Caribbean region or simply anyone who loves good food … In Motherland: A Jamaican Cookbook, Melissa Thompson gives us … a vivid history of the country and of her connections to it … Alongside the mouth-watering recipes, there’s family history and anecdotes and a glossary to aid novices.” — Jessica B. Harris, culinary historian and author of High on the Hog
“Melissa Thompson’s enticing Jamaican-inspired cookbook Motherland combines a solemn history of the Caribbean island nation with notes about its delicious food and spirited reputation … Spicy, sweet, rich and varied, the recipes of Motherland evoke the unique wonders of Jamaica’s enduring spirit.” — Foreword
“Food writer and chef Thompson takes readers on a Jamaican tour with this homage to the influences, culture, and history that make up Jamaican food culture … Thompson does not disappoint. Her well-explained, one-page recipes offer suggested pairings for meal planning and are well organized for easy reading while cooking … [T]hose new to Jamaican cooking can take comfort with easy and delicious recipes like stamp and go (saltfish fritters); saltfish, butter bean and red pepper stew; and curry chicken. With so much to offer, this will easily become a reader favorite.” — Booklist
“Thompson … delivers her debut cookbook, an ode to Jamaica and her family history. On her journey to explore her roots, Thompson details the extensive history of the island and its ties with the trade of enslaved Africans and the colonialism that shaped its foodways and culture. The lush photography is inviting and includes images of delectable dishes and the Caribbean landscape … [A] true lesson in Jamaican cooking … these recipes are the real deal … Readers will relish the research and detail Thompson put into her ode to her beloved Jamaica through its food and history.” — Library Journal
“Food writer Thompson celebrates her Jamaican heritage in her stellar debut … and here offers a rich and deeply satisfying collection of recipes … Mouthwatering photos bring the recipes to life … Her attention to the history behind the food sets these recipes apart; she details major events and lasting influences on the island, ranging from Christopher Columbus and the slave trade to the Rastafarian diet. This abundant immersion into Jamaican culture will whet readers’ appetites.” — Publishers Weekly, Starred Review