Looking for some good FUN (and a little education) this weekend? It will be hard to top the yummy Jamaican breadfruit and the family-oriented entertainment at the annual St. Mary Breadfruit Festival, presented by the Jeffrey Town Farmers Association.
The St. Mary Breadfruit Festival is always a favorite and this year's event should be no exception! It's a wonderful opportunity to meet the community of Jeffrey Town, located in St. Mary's lush, green hills, and sample the amazing variety of dishes made from breadfruit - from traditional roasted or boiled breadfruit, to breadfruit jam, breadfruit pie, cake or pudding, breadfruit punch, and even breadfruit wine! I don't know about you, but I'm hungry already!
If you’re not already in the St. Mary area (Port Maria, Annotto Bay, Oracabessa, Galina), the Festival is easily accessible from St. Ann Parish (Ocho Rios, Runaway Bay, St. Ann's Bay, Brown's Town), or Portland Parish (Port Antonio, Drapers, Buff Bay, Long Bay, Manchioneal, Saint Margaret's Bay), as well as from the Kingston area. Go for a beautiful drive and enjoy the day! (Check out the directions below from both Ocho Rios and Kingston.)
The Festival will introduce you to the best of breadfruit production in St. Mary. Breadfruit, also called "bresheh" in Jamaica, grows on a huge tree and is about the size of a melon; a weight of 5 pounds apiece is normal. Breadfruit is a fruit commonly found throughout the Caribbean, but it's used more like a vegetable, although it is a bit sweet when ripe. It's versatile and nutritious, and is the perfect accompaniment to foods like Ackee & Saltfish, Jamaica's national dish. If you know nothing at all about breadfruit, continue reading below the event details!
- Where: Ben’s World Farm Pen, Jeffrey Town, Saint Mary, Jamaica
- When: Sunday, July 15, 2012; Gates open at 10AM; Showtime is 5PM.
- Cultural: Enjoy breadfruit prepared in many different ways. Breadfruit has been involved in every aspect of Jamaica's cuisine since the early 1900’s. You'll find lots of other delicious food, entertainment and vendors at the Festival too.
- Music: Local community entertainers, including Corner Stone Family Band, Jimmy Riley, Cologne, and Tito Simon. There will be something for everyone!
- Kids: Rides, bounce-abouts, etc. to keep the kiddies entertained.
- Admission: $500 (about US$5.75)
- Parking: Easy access with plenty of parking.
- Directions from Kingston: The quickest route is through Spanish Town via Bog Walk and the Linstead bypass. Turn right off of the bypass at the second traffic light after the Bog Walk roundabout. Follow the road through to Guy’s Hill via Devil’s Racecourse. Continue into Guy’s Hill Square. Take the left turn, signposted to Gayle, and follow the road to Gayle. Turn right at Gayle Square at the Texaco station and follow the road for a little more than a mile. Take the first left turn. Ben’s World Farm Pen is approximately 200 yards on the right where parking is available.
- Directions from Ocho Rios: Leave Ocho Rios on the bypass, heading towards Port Antonio, and keeping the sea on your left. After about 2 miles you will reach a large Texaco station on your right. This is White River. Turn right here, and almost immediately take the second right turn. Follow this windy and hilly road. When you go down a very steep hill, and then climb back to the top of the hill, you will see Lodge Post Office. Turn left here. Follow the road over a narrow bridge and keep driving until you come to a “Y” junction. Turn sharp right, probably a 130 degree turn, and follow this road. Keep to your left at Labyrinth Post Office, making no turns, and when you go over a humpback bridge you will be near the end of your journey. When you get to a “U”, bear to the right, and in about ½ mile you will be in Gayle Square. Keep straight through the town, go over the humpback bridge and turn right. The St. Mary Breadfruit Festival venue is 200 yards further on your right.
So, what the heck is breadfruit??
Breadfruit is said to have come to Jamaica in 1793. The plants were introduced by Captain Bligh on his voyages to the Caribbean from Tahiti, in the hope that the nutritious fruit would benefit the plantation slaves because it was rich in carbohydrates and was a good staple like rice and potatoes.
Apparently, however, the slaves hated breadfruit and, instead, fed it to their livestock, mainly to hogs. It was eventually recognized for its food value. Today, it's well-loved by Jamaicans who use it at breakfast, lunch and dinner, make it into chips, put it in soups, and use it to make a popular punch. A little sweet when ripe, it does taste a bit like bread. It can be boiled, steamed, roasted, fried and ground into flour (which is gluten-free). Some people believe breadfruit is a good remedy for high blood pressure.
You will see breadfruit trees everywhere in Jamaica. The deep green leaves are attractive (they look similar to fig leaves) and the trees grow as big as 60 to 70 feet!
Breadfruit is round or spherical and has a rough outside skin. It is very low in saturated fat and cholesterol and is a good source of fiber, potassium and Vitamin C. In Jamaica, the traditional way of preparing breadfruit is to roast the whole fruit over an open fire until the outside is completely charred. Then you peel away the skin, slice it and enjoy!
If you can't get your hands on fresh breadfruit, you may be able to find it canned. Boil it until soft or roast it in your oven and enjoy a taste of the islands. I particularly love it when it's made into chips and served with avocado dip. Yum!
You may also be interested in a recent Jamaica Gleaner article about Jamaicans Mike and Mary McLaughlin, founders of the Trees That Feed Foundation, and their quest to reforest tropical areas with food-bearing trees to supplement the world's food supply for needy, hungry people. They are one of the sponsors of this year's St. Mary Breadfruit Festival!
Introduce yourself to a beloved Jamaican food at the St. Mary Breadfruit Festival this weekend! Enjoy and have fun!