Faith’s Pen Jamaica | Tasty Road Food in Saint Ann!

Posted by on Apr 24, 2013 in Blog, Jamaica Things to Do, Jamaica Travel, Jamaican Culture, Jamaican Food, Ocho Rios Jamaica, St. Ann Jamaica | 0 comments

Faith’s Pen Jamaica | Tasty Road Food in Saint Ann!
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A Cultural (& Food) Landmark in Faith's Pen, Jamaica

If you love "road food" as much as I do and are driving between the North Coast of Jamaica and Kingston or Spanish Town via Route A1, be sure to make a rest stop at the famous Faith's Pen near Mount Diablo, in the central mountain area of Saint Ann Parish. Specifically, this Jamaican-style "truck stop" is located right along the edge of a winding section of road between the rural communities of Mount Rosser and Moneague, about 12 miles south of Ocho Rios. There's no way you can miss it.

faith's-pen-jamaicaYou'll find a strip of food vendor stalls with funky names like Rapheal’s Cooling Spot, John Bull, the Love Zone, Lion's Den and Cherry's One Stop, where you can do a little “eating pon di road”. Take a break to sample some real Jamaican country cooking. Each stall has its own specialties like cow cod soup or roasted corn, and you can usually find tasty jerk pork, jerk chicken, steamed fish, roast yam, roast breadfruit, ackee and saltfish, bammy and festival, curry goat and Mannish Water (goat head soup). You can also buy soft drinks, juices, and the famous Red Stripe Beer, and so on. You should also find some fruit stands along the road.

faiths-pen-jamaicaMost of the cooks and workers of Faith's Pen come from the small nearby community of the same name. In times past, Faith's Pen was kind of a ramshackle set up of falling-apart shacks built nearly on top of the road. There was little space for parking and you had to take your life in your hands to find a safe spot to stop! Luckily, things have improved. With some investment in 2012 from Red Stripe (see Gleaner article below) and others, the stalls have been reconstructed with nicer signage and shutters for shade. They also provided parking in back for the buses that stop to let tourists get a taste of something delicious. There are also restrooms, but they come with a small usage fee to, hopefully, help keep them clean. According to a newly developed Faith's Pen website:

"The Faith’s Pen Rest Stop has made major improvements, providing customers with a more welcoming and comfortable dining experience. Ample seating has been provided so that you can relax and enjoy your meal in the serene and mountainous surroundings of the Faith’s Pen Rest Stop. Make Faith’s Pen your next adventure when traveling through the picturesque mountains of Jamaica."

If business is a little slow, you may be rushed by eager vendors who want to convince you to buy from their stall. Don't be intimidated; the vendors are friendly (if you are) and you just may run into an interesting character or two to talk to. I recommend looking for the stall that has the longest line; they are usually the best cooks and have their faithful clientele for a good reason!

Faith's Pen is a fun cultural experience, even if you can't be tempted by the food. There's a relaxed vibe with reggae music playing, and the aromas will make your stomach rumble. The food is good and reasonably priced.  You can usually find the stalls open between about 7AM and 10PM.

 

Faith's Pen Gets $4m Facelift From Red Stripe

Published: Monday | March 12, 2012

 

The popular Faith's Pen Rest Stop in St Ann was relaunched last Friday with the vendors expressing optimism that business will once again be vibrant.

The relaunch was, in part, made possible by Red Stripe, which over the past four months has invested more than $4 million in the facility.

The investment covered items including painting and rebranding of outlets, installing new signs, re-roofing the outlets, replacing damaged bathroom fixtures and arranging for proper garbage disposal.

Along with Red Stripe, Students in Free Enterprise, the largest international student university organisation, which is led by Dr John Gochenouer, professor at Southwest Minnesota State University, trained the vendors in best practices of food handling and preparation.

Red Stripe proud

Red Stripe's head of corporate relations, Marguerite Cremin, said the company was proud to be associated with one of Jamaica's landmark rest stops.

"There are 30 shops at the Faith's Pen Rest Stop and that translates to more than 30 families that make their livelihood selling food at this location and we saw this as a great opportunity to encourage entrepreneurship and improve the vendors' skill level so they can deliver a sustainable food and beverage business," said Cremin.

"Red Stripe has been a source of inspiration for us," added Angelo Graham, president of the Faith's Pen Rest Stop Vendors' Association.

"They are always there for us for things like painting and helping out with our garbage collection. I must also thank the students (from Southwest Minnesota State University). They brought us aprons and taught us food preparation and food handling. They also set up a website for us and gave us a computer so we can go on the Internet."

Also participating in the Faith's Pen relaunch last Friday was member of parliament for the area, Lisa Hanna.

"This means a tremendous amount ... and we're touched because Faith's Pen has been such an icon in the constituency," said Hanna.

"People both locally and internationally have come to know Faith's Pen as a place that serves good food and what real, good Jamaican living is all about. The vendors have been taught how to better price their foods and how to turn it into a true rest stop where tourists and locals can now sit down and enjoy the atmosphere and we're very pleased," added Hanna.

 

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