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Jerk Stands in Jamaica's insider take:

Jamaica's unique gift to the culinary world is jerk, a spicy seasoning and cooking technique that's used for chicken, pork, and fish. The cooking process is simple (over a fire of pimento wood in a pit or an oil drum) and very slow (up to four hours), and the secret is the marinade. Every pit master has his or her own secret blend of spices, but the basis of all jerk cooking is the Scotch bonnet chile, which is among the hottest of peppers. Jerk dishes are usually served with cornmeal fritters known as "festival," along with roasted breadfruit.

Jerk stands first cropped up on the eastern coast at Boston Bay Beach, where Mickey's Jerk Centre, the very first, still remains—just take the coastal highway eight miles east from Port Antonio and stop when you smell spicy clouds of smoke billowing from the roadside grill. Now you'll find jerk stands all over the island. A few of the most popular are the Pork Pit on Gloucester Avenue in Montego Bay, Scotchies (which many consider the best on the island) just east of Montego Bay near the Half Moon resort, and the Village Jerk Centre on DaCosta Drive in Ocho Rios. Whatever the location, the sign of an authentic jerk stand is thick wood smoke filtering into the air, a thatched roof, and locals loafing around playing dominoes and drinking Red Stripe beer.

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