The Term Jerk
In the past, jerk was used to refer to a pig that was slowly grilled over a fire of pimento wood. Today, the main ingredient is typically chicken, pork, or beef. Jerk refers to a unique Jamaican cooking method where pork, chicken, beef, seafood, and even fruits and vegetables are cooked over a fire pit or on a grill.
Regardless of the meat, the key ingredient to real jerk is a unique, spicy seasoning - a blend of onions, green onions, thyme, Jamaican allspice (also known as pimento), Scotch Bonnet Pepper, salt, nutmeg and cinnamon - perfectly encapsulating Jamaica: spicy, hot, and sweet.
These heavy seasonings were originally used to keep the meat from spoiling. There are various theories about the name - it could be the Incan word for dried meat, charqui, or maybe the process that involves jerking the meat as it cooks over the fire.
Regardless of these theories, all that matters, in the end, is the flavour and the delicacy of the meat. Jerk huts and shacks can be found all over Jamaica, with its patrons shouting out and advocating their meat in a battle to win the most customers.
The meat is extremely tender and falls off the bone due to the marination and the slow-cooking process. Locally, it is served on paper plates or wrapped in aluminium foil, and it's commonly eaten with fingers. In order to cut the spiciness, jerk meat is accompanied by something sweet, some bread, Jamaican beer, or a rum cocktail.Today, pork jerk is not on the throne anymore because chicken jerk is the most popular variety, but since it is greasier and juicier than other meats, a few napkins will probably come in handy.