Jamaica's Spicy Snack


Ah, the pleasures of the Jamaican beef patty. Served piping hot in a brown paper bag, the meat-filled pastry pocket is to islanders what the burger is to Americans: an inexpensive, filling and totally delish comfort food. IMG_2117

Generally, patty fans fall into two camps: devotees of either the Tastee or Juici brands. As a Kingstonian, I’ve been a fan of the capital’s original Tastee patty (47 years-old and churning out 100,000 a day) since I was a child. The steaming minced-meat filling, the buttery golden crust that inevitably ends up decorating your chest …. yum!

Screen Shot 2013-03-20 at 3.13.19 PMAnd now, whenever I touch down at Norman Manley International, the airport patty shop is my first stop after clearing Customs. Let other travelers tap their toes anxiously on the curb as they wait for their rides; I’m totally focused on my precious brown bag and the spiced scent wafting from within.

But years of living in Mo’Bay have also given me an appreciation for the "country" iteration made by Juici Patties, the Clarendon-based challenger to the Tastee throne, in business a “mere” 33 years. It too, offers mouthfuls of meaty goodness enveloped in a saffron crust.

credit: Juici Patties

Wrap a soft and doughy “coco bread” around it and you’ve got a hearty, carbo-licious meal guaranteed to sustain you well past lunchtime (and to pack on the pounds if you make a daily habit of it).

credit: amazingsandwiches.com

Truth is, while I’m a longtime member of Team Tastee, I’m really not sure that I could differentiate it from the Juici version in a blind taste test. Both are pretty darn good, and offer great value at about a U.S. dollar a piece. So is it Tastee or Juici that takes the flake? You, Jetsetters, can be the judge.

Patty PS: Visitors can buy patties by the dozen, frozen and packaged for travel, from retailers in the departure lounges at the airport in Kingston and Mo'Bay.