How to Eat a Jamaican Meat Patty

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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.


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Step #2: Buy a coco bread to go with it -- a soft, vulvar yeast bread sweetened with coconut milk..


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.


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Step #3: Put the patty in the coco bread, The patty fits inside the coco bread like a hand inside a glove, constituting one of the world's greatest culinary embraces.


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.


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Step #4: Take your first delectable bite, and the filling oozes out.



Location Info

Jamaican Pride Bakery

731 Flatbush Ave., Brooklyn, NY

Category: Restaurant


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8 comments
virgogurl4
virgogurl4

@pearlduncan: As a half-Jamaican, I am telling you NOT to believe the hype of Golden Krust beef patties! Many Caribbeans consider it to be the West Indian version of McDonald's. Try comparing a Big Mac to Corner Bistro, or even Bareburger for that matter, and that's how Golden Krust tastes in comparison to a good, authentic beef patty from a mom and pop joint.  The only thing that tastes worse than a fresh Golden Krust beef patty to me is than a frozen pre-packaged one from the likes of Pathmark. 

If you're looking for pure beef covered in a fresh-baked, flaky crust, my personal favorite is Chinese Jamaican-owned Tropical Baking Co. in Crown Heights (Utica and Schenectady). Every now and then, I like to stop by my old neighborhood to grab one wrapped in coco bread -- the way I enjoyed it my entire life.

pearlduncan
pearlduncan

I vote for our cousin's Golden Krust patties, because you can find them at Golden Krust restaurants, at Pizzerias, and in leading Supermarkets. Of course they are hot in the restaurants and pizzerias, and frozen in the freezers in the supermarkets, so you have to take them home or carry them to the office and reheat them. Patties are the perfect snacks for a picnic basket. Of course Golden Krust also makes coco bread and other goodies, and you can find them not only in Brooklyn but all over the country. They bake and I write about the culture and history as I did in the article in the Culture Watch section of History News Network about Volkswagen's Super Bowl ad, from a historical perspective. Enjoy the culinary culture and the relaxation.

TheProofmeister
TheProofmeister

Incorrect.  The proper way to eat a beef patty is at a Pizzeria and stuffing it with mozzarella cheese and pepperoni.  Bronx-style.

ebtabor
ebtabor

I love love LOVE the super-spicy Jamaican beef patty (although since going all veg, I'm sticking to vegetable patties).  One correction: coco bread is called that not because of the addition of coconut anything but because the split bread was thought to look like a split coconut.  I have this on authority from actual Jamaicans.  Anyway, the adjective in the article was more apt.  Although I prefer the patty bare, it's generally too hot to hold, so the bread makes a nice foil.

Dawn Olivia
Dawn Olivia

Ahh beef patty and coco bread......a meal on the cheap. Just beware of superhot (temperature wise)filling.

sietsema
sietsema

@ebtabor Thanks for making two excellent points -- that the name coco bread might have come from the coconut-like appearance, and that the bread keeps your fingers from getting burned on the hot patty. My sources claimed the "coco" refers to the coconut milk. We're probably both right.

sietsema
sietsema

@Dawn Olivia Good point! I've burned the hell out of my mouth many times. 

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