Monday, March 2, 2015

Every day is a festival

Jamaican Festival Bread is crusty on the outside and airy soft on the inside.
(The painting in the background is by me and is available for sale at
My hubby and I and some other family had a chance to visit Jamaica recently.
When I travel, I like to eat the local food and hang out with the locals. In some places, that means small restaurants, in others in means street food. If I’m lucky enough, in  some places it means getting invited to someone’s home.
On this trip, we didn’t get a home meal, but we did manage to go to a small fishing encampment with a restaurant and bar with only locals. A few hundred yards away, other tourists were eating burgers and fries at an American chain restaurant, probably never noticing the little oasis where we took our lunch.
While Steve and his brother sat back after the meal to discuss whatever it is that brothers talk about at an open air beach bar, I headed over to the tiny kitchen to see if I could talk someone out of the recipe for the sweet  fried bread that accompanied our meal.
Of course I’ll tell you how to make it, the young woman in the splattered green, red and gold apron shouted over Chronixx blasting on the speakers. Everyone in Jamaica can make Festival Bread. It’s a favorite. Despite the name, it is not reserved for festivals…probably more precisely, every day is a festival in Jamaica.
Despite extreme poverty, the Jamaican people are, in general, a happy people. You might say it’s the ganja  that makes them so, but it is an attitude of love and acceptance and the goal of self-reliance that helps put them in a pleasant state of mind.
The bread is commonplace and the recipe is no secret to anyone who bothers to ask.
Crispy on the outside and airy soft on the inside, Festival Bread can accompany any kind of meal. Because it is sweet, it’s probably best with spicy foods to absorb some of the heat.
It takes and hour or so to make (more than half that time is waiting for the dough to rest), so you might want to do it when you have a little time.
Cooking up a spicy meal (jerk spiced veggies, perhaps?), then give this sweet  bread a try…or just make it for a fluffy snack any time.

Jamaican Festival Bread
1 ¼ cups of flour
¾ cups of polenta
½ teaspoon of salt
2 teaspoons of baking powder
¼ cup of sugar
·      Sift the flour and stir in the rest of the ingredients, making sure they are combined well.
·      Add ¾ cup more water and stir it up to make a sticky dough.
·      Rest the dough for 35 minutes.
·      Put enough oil to cover a ball of dough half way into the pan and heat it to 350ºF.
·      Form the dough into balls a little bigger than a golf ball (or make little logs and tie them into a knot)
·      Drop the dough into the oil. When they rise up and are golden brown, flip them over and do the same on the other side.

·      Drain them on an absorbent towel and serve.


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