Patty Pride-a Jamaican food love story
The beef patty is a Jamaican gift to the world’s palate. It’s one of those foods that checks off almost every “yum” box no matter where it’s served.
There’s Asian influence in the seasoning (cumin and turmeric) African and Native American elements (cayenne pepper) and a pastry crust adapted from the British Isles (a pasty looks like a precursor step in the patty’s evolution.)
The patty has been a staple of Jamaica for more than a 100 years. The island consumes 300,000 of them every day.
It’s a bit of Culinary irony that the burger of Jamaica is the beef patty.
And a burger is a beef patty. But a beef patty is not a hamburger. And a hamburger isn’t a beef patty.
Confusing, right? Basically, the patty and coco bread combination is a popular as the burger and fries combo, albeit to different populations.
I’ve yet to meet someone that had one and didn’t fall in love.
This confusion over terms turned into an all out war in Canada where regulators tried to fine Jamaican establishments that used the trade name “Beef patty” for anything besides ground hamburger between a bun. There was a social revolt and the people prevailed, resulting in the official designation of “Jamaican patty” as the legally and socially accepted term, and a holiday to celebrate the triumphant ruling (February 23rd is patty day.
That just makes me smile.)
The Coco bread is an indispensable part of the fast food staple.
Imagine if a Hawaiian sweet roll and a buttermilk biscuit had an affair. That’s what we are dealing with here. The subtle sweetness, soft starchy center and dense top layer are a work of simple perfection.
My hometown has a high density of Jamaican nationals and the culture runs deep- our school lunch menu had one constant: Beef patty and Coco bread. I’ve probably had 3 thousand in my lifetime, easy.
The patty is widely available in chicken, veggie (cabbage, carrots potatoes and peas), spinach and cheese, shrimp versions. There’s even a beyond meat patty which ain’t too bad.
Like any other highly valued ethnic fast food, there are different versions of both the patty and the coco bread and they are absolutely not created equal.
The two major patty factions in my area:
These patties present a thick pastry crust that is medium flaky. The meat is about a 4/10 on the spicy scale, and they are always perfectly shaped and fluffy.
The Coco bread is light and fluffy as well, and a touch less sweet than what could be called “traditional.”
Scott’s is a traditional bakery and they offer all manner of traditional Jamaican desserts.
Can’t Miss: Coco Bite (a beef hot dog in a coco bread sleeping bag) spinach and cheese patty, coconut drops
These patties are more dense and flaky than Scott’s. They come out looking less “perfect”, and the flakes fall off as you eat. You WILL go after every one of those flakes and eat them like chips. They’re that good.
The coco bread is a bit denser, sweeter with more coconut milk flavor.
Golden Krust has really McDonald’s-ized their menu as well as expanded to offer meals like jerk chicken, ackee and salt fish, and the traditional Jamaican restaurant soup line up
Can’t Miss: Cow foot soup on Thursdays, Coco bread, spiced bun and cheese, fried chicken over white rice with gravy
Bodega/Gas Station/Costco :
The corner store patty is usually of the frozen variety. There’s usually only beef available and they tend to be greasier.
They are a hangover CURE and have a nostalgic place in my heart.
The gas station lets you warm up your own take-away patty to something like nuclear meltdown temperature. It’s a fond memory that I don’t need to experience again.
Who has the Best Patty, Hands Down?
The answer is…
That’s the answer. Truthfully, my life would be less complete and fulfilling if any of the aforementioned patty options were not regional available to me. Let’s there be a pattyfor every mood.
Luckily, Scott’s and Golden Krust are the standard bearers of the category and are located within two blocks of each other, so patty heaven is always within reach!