Recreating Jamaican tradition thru my tastebuds

This weekend I made a recipe from my mom. Braised oxtail with rice and peas. It’s a staple in Jamaican cuisine, right up there with curry goat and beef patties. It’s comfort food that’s rich and sticks to your ribs. But this time I made it with a twist.

I saw Samin Nosrat make braised beef short-ribs on her Netflix food show, Salt Fat Acid Heat. I bought short-ribs the next time we visited our butcher. But I hadn’t made oxtail in awhile and I want to master these recipes. That’s when inspiration struck.

I’ll make braised beef “oxtail” with rice and peas. I started cooking on Saturday afternoon. I sent photos to one of my oldest friends and fellow Jamaican descendent. His responses: “dam. dam” and “oh man, that looks amazing.” I ate it and it was good. I told him I’d fix him a plate.

It’s important to me to learn these recipes. My mom doesn’t always think I care about tradition, about our history and culture. She’s right and she’s wrong. I chafe when I’m chained to tradition. I respect tradition. I acknowledge it. But I don’t have to practice it all day every day.

For me, culture is the transmission of tradition across generations. Any culture that refuses to evolve is dying or dead. I find liberty in using beef ribs instead of oxtail. All that matters is that the meal is delicious while still paying homage to my ancestors and my mom.

p.s. Next time I’ll take pictures and document the results here. My plan is to get a few more recipes under my belt next year.

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