I’m a big fan of authentic Caribbean food. Trini doubles; Bahamian conch salad; Puerto Rican mofongo; Anguillian crayfish: bring it on! But I have to confess to one distinctly counterfeit Caribbean culinary obsession: Jamaican KFC.
It all started in when I lived on the irie isle, where, as far as I’m concerned, they serve the best tasting KFC evah! And not only does it taste great, it sells well, too. So well, in fact, that there’s a Jamaican branch of KFC that sells the most chicken per capita IN THE WORLD! I have such fond memories of driving past the main Mo’Bay store on my way to work in the mornings, my senses being assaulted by the tempting aroma of frying chicken emanating from the A/C ducts. Irresistible! Little wonder that there’s often a line outside before the store even opens!
So what makes Jamaican KFC so good? Well, I had a secret source in management who told me that years ago the local franchise holders got permission from KFC HQ to modify the Colonel’s original recipe to include more salt to better suit the Jamaican palate. (No, I cannot confirm this; don’t sue me, Colonel). KFC also uses Jamaican chickens, which, being raised in one of the most beautiful Caribbean countries, simply must taste better than foreign ones, right? And Jamaica is one of the few countries in the world where you can get barbecue (battered, fried and rolled in a spicy/sweet sauce) KFC. Whatever the reasons, I can tell you that even if you’re not a fan of KFC Stateside (trust me, I never darken their doors here in South Florida), you simply MUST try it in Jamaica. No one ever believes me when I tell, them but just ask my photographer friend and sidekick Zach Stovall (who I dragged to the nearest branch on our first work trip to the island) and he’ll attest: That’s some GOOOOD chicken!
And don’t think for a moment that I haven’t done my research. Over the last seven years I’ve been performing an unscientific sampling of KFCs all over the Caribbean. Nassau: Kinda tasteless, with strangely pink meat. Grand Cayman: OK, but nothing special. St. Lucia: ditto. St. Kitts: Pretty good, but not quite up to Jamaican standards. Martinique KFC (as seen in the opening photo): Ce n’est pas mal.
The only Caribbean country that comes close to Jamaica, in my opinion, is Trinidad, where I’m told they have the Caribbean’s only 24-hour KFC. I sampled some at the airport kiosk and admit to being impressed. My original thigh was crispy, well-seasoned, and almost as good as Jamaican KFC. Almost.