Indo-Jamaican food is as real as goat curry | Entertainment

Editor’s Note: Food writer Andre James provides a unique perspective on the cuisine of the Myrtle Beach area. In his weekly column, To Butterfly A Shrimp, James explores restaurant menus so you can know exactly what to order when you visit.

WAH GWAAN! If you’re really mingling and mingling around Myrtle Beach like you should be, you’ll end up being the recipient of this greeting, in thick Jamaican patois.

The Myrtle Beach area has a very robust Jamaican community. I wasn’t fully aware of it until I found myself at one of their Independence Day parties about a decade ago, drinking a Red Stripe beer as the iconic “Bam Bam ‘ from Sister Nancy was exploding with a monstrous sound system in the most outrageous decibels imaginable, so outrageous that it shook the plastic fork off my plate. The scene was beautifully raunchy, vibrant and chaotic, something you’d expect to see at Passa Passa in Kingston’s Tivoli Gardens neighborhood, not a nightclub on the 501 freeway.

Most Jamaicans arrive in Grand Strand on J-1 visas to help shore up the backbone of the hospitality and tourism industry for the chaos of summer. Vacuuming under beanbags in the hotel lobby, operating the rickety wooden roller coaster Swamp Fox at Family Kingdom, and every other job imaginable. When the summer rush stops and tourists return home, many Jamaicans do the same – to Trelawny Parish, Middle Quarters or Naggo Head. But others choose to make the Grand Strand their new home. There’s no designated quadrant of the city where they all live, as you’ll see in New York’s Chinatown or Miami’s Little Haiti. Instead, Jamaicans are spread out from lowlands near Murrells Inlet to Cherry Grove, almost in North Carolina, so there isn’t really a “Jamaicaville” per se. But if there was a “Jamaicaville”, the Homestyle Restaurant would be its heart.

There’s a trio of Jamaican restaurants in the neighborhood: Sunday’s Best in North Myrtle Beach, Clarendon Cuisine across from Piggly Wiggly, and Reggae Island Grill – the only one that serves ackee (a fruit that looks like scrambled eggs for uncultivated). eye) and salt fish, Jamaica’s national dish. But Homestyle seems to be what Chef Creole is to Little Haiti and Nom Wah Tea Parlor to Chinatown, an undisputed cornerstone. If that’s not enough, there’s 8 Riva Grocery, a market named after Ocho Rios, the bustling resort town on the island’s north coast not far from Marcus Garvey’s birthplace, and the famous Dunn’s River. At 8 Riva, you’ll find sea moss, whole parrotfish, bottles of Baba Roots herbal tonic, boxes of callaloo (Jamaican’s answer to our collard greens), cassava, gingerbread and other imported provisions that give Jamaicans tangible pieces of their homeland.

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