How to Eat a Jamaican Meat Patty
Step #1: Buy a meat patty. We prefer the spicy beef from Jamaican Pride Bakery.
The origin of the Jamaican meat patty -- ubiquitous in neighborhoods like Bed-Stuy and Flatbush -- is a matter of some controversy. Was it inspired by the Cornish pasty, and brought to the island by the Brits, or did the Spanish introduce the empanada even earlier? It doesn't matter, because the flaky pastry filled with savory meat, fish, or veggies is one of Brooklyn's best snacks. Here's how to make it into a meal.
The beef filling of the bread is finely ground -- the Jamaicans call it a "mince" -- and very spicy. It's also more complex than you might think, often containing onions, garlic, tomatoes, thyme, and annato, a seed that is used to impart a yellow coloring in Latin-Caribbean and Mexican dishes.
Cookbook author Mary Lambert Ortiz, in The Complete Book of Caribbean Cooking, writes about eating patties as a schoolchild in Jamaica:
I used to buy these patties for a mid-morning snack during recess, when I attended Wolmer's School, in Kingston, Jamaica. The old woman who made them, and sold them to us from a big straw basket covered with a white cloth, had a generous hand with the hot peppers that give the patties their special flavor.