When we lived in Manchester we had a really good Jamaican jerk chicken joint round the corner on speed-dial. We have eaten some great super-spicy jerk chicken and tasty jerk pork cooked on oil drums at carnivals in Manchester, Leeds and London. And I have developed my own killer jerk marinade recipe over the years. I guess what I am trying to say is that coming from the UK, we know a thing or two about Caribbean food thanks to our shameful but culinarily profitable history of colonialism.
Germany of course does not have this historical legacy of colonial immigration and therefore does not have much of a population of Afro-Caribbean migrants. This is very much reflected in its dismal selection of Caribbean food places (with the exception of Merle’s Rum and Roti – see week 6). So, in order to find decent Jamaican food in Berlin we decided to go to the place where a lot of Afro-Caribbean immigrants hang out themselves – Yaam.
Yaam is part club, part beach bar, part reggae theme park, part community center situated next to the river Spree. Sometimes you have to pay to enter, sometimes not. Unfortunately we chose an occasion when it cost 3 euros entry to eat some food there but we could not stay and soak up the vibes as we had to be somewhere afterwards. We mentally added this premium to our meal and decided that it was still good value at 9 euros each (including entry).
There are a few different African and Caribbean food options in the ramshackle entrance area to Yaam but we headed straight to the one with the Jamaican flag to try the jerk chicken. The menu consisted of photos with no prices and no explanations. We asked for jerk chicken with dumplings and rice and hoped it wasn’t too pricey. Ten minutes later two large plates of chicken rice and gravy arrived with some dumplings on the side.
The portions were good as was the charring on the chicken skin but the ‘jerk’ sauce was nothing like we have had back home. It was sweet with a bit of spicing but no real heat at all. We were pretty disappointed and wondered if this is what the regulars at Yaam eat themselves or a bland version designed for Westerners (Germans). We can really see a theme developing here…
I will stick to making my own jerk marinade, especially after the purchase of a thai bird’s eye chilli plant in order to satiate our need for real spice in Berlin., and so the hunt for authentically spicy food continues…
Date of visit 1 June 2015