cover image Motherland: A Jamaican Cookbook

Motherland: A Jamaican Cookbook

Melissa Thompson. Interlink, $35 (288p) ISBN 978-1-62371-801-5

Food writer Thompson celebrates her Jamaican heritage in her stellar debut. Inspired by her dad’s tales of growing up in Jamaica, England-born Thompson found herself transported through food to a country she had never visited and here offers a rich and deeply satisfying collection of recipes, some of her own creation and others from her family’s arsenal, all derived from island ingredients. Among the options are salty and spicy saltfish fritters (“one of the most addictive snacks known to mankind”) and ginger beer shrimp, born out of Thompson’s love for Japanese tempura and transformed with ginger beer in place of soda water for the batter. Mouthwatering photos bring the recipes to life, notably Thompson’s smoky eggplant rundown and macaroni and cheese. Readers will savor the less familiar but equally enticing dishes, including castleton janga soup (a rich seafood stew with shrimp, pumpkin, ginger, and crayfish) and curried goat. Thompson rounds things out with luscious grapefruit cassava cake and coconut mango panna cotta. Her attention to the history behind the food sets these recipes apart; she details major events and lasting influences on the island, ranging from Christopher Columbus and the slave trade to the Rastafarian diet. This abundant immersion into Jamaican culture will whet readers’ appetites. (Dec.)