On any given Sunday--- in any given Black family---you’re likely to find your Granny, best friend’s auntie, play cousin or some generous church acquaintance getting down in the kitchen. Prevailing stereotype or not, make no mistake that someone in the family is bound to whip-up a soul stirring delight to celebrate the end of the week and fuel up for the next one.
At Scotchie’s in Montego Bay, you don’t have to wait until Sunday. The blend of allspice, cloves, scallions, garlic, nutmeg and a few almighty supersonic flaming hot Scotch bonnet peppers, create an irresistible aroma when marinated with chicken. Smoked over pimento wood selected fresh from the neighboring forest, Scotchie’s ushers in home-cooked Jamaican goodness to highbrow locals and travelers alike. The family owned business model is simple-let the ‘jerk‘ speak for itself. Saucing up palettes with jerk chicken, jerk pork and jerk fish, you can sop up the natural broth and seasonings with bammy, festival or breadfruit.
Grilled for three hours in the restaurant’s tightly contained pit area, jerk selections are concocted and served fresh daily. The outdoor garden setting blends elements of a rugged juke joint with a special laid back seclusion found only in the islands. Grass-thatched roofs, wooden tables and upside down metal beer kegs act as stools, providing an ideal backdrop for no-nonsense feasting. Marked only by a small sign made out of cherrywood, Scotchie’s is also known to be an occasional late-night hideout for celebrities seeking to brush up on their game of dominos.
While many rely on local Jamaican jerk spots for their authenticity, historians trace the evolution of jerking to the northeast region of the island, known as the Blue Mountains. Maroons, a band of Africans that escaped slavery to find freedom and community there alongside the Arawak inhabitants, created underground cooking pits to conceal their whereabouts from colonial slave catchers. Roasting meat for days, combined with the Arawak’s seasonings, their meat took on a flavoring similar to the jerk taste of today.
Gaining momentum after selling jerk delights from his pick-up truck 10 years ago, a Jamaican man in his seventies named Tony Rerrie, funded Scotchie’s in Montego Bay. Now considered one of the premier jerk houses in the country, offshoot locations have sprung up in Kingston and Ocho Rios. So, what makes the ever- bubbling Scotchie’s such a spicy yet tummy-tickling experience? Whether it’s the actual ingredients or the labor of love emanating from multiple generations grilling each batch, the reaction remains unchanged-unforgettably satisfied, pledging to return for more.
Chie Davis is a TV host, producer and writer that resides in Los Angeles. She’s contributed to media outlets including CBS, The Huffington Post, Brooklyn Review, WZBN-TV and is the co-creator of Ocean Style TV, a travel & lifestyle show with a Caribbean essence. She loves non-stop flights and non-stop adventure.