Sunday, March 14, 2010

Jamaican D's

Thursday March 11th 2010
Jamaican D’s, 8th and Spring Garden, Philadelphia, PA.

I work in a warehouse that’s completely overrun with a clutter of precariously stacked boxes placed in inconvenient spots all over the building. So cluttered, that at times I’ve stood at the center of four box towers and remained undetected by the other staff. Going back a few weeks, I showed up for work, walked through the warehouse to my work station, and stumbled upon a person I’d never seen before in my life, tucked into an alcove of boxes, working. Weird, I thought.
Halfway through the day this mystery man disappeared for a few minutes and returned with a styrofoam trough full of chicken, vegetables, and unidentifiable slop on which he gorged himself for the next twenty minutes.
“Where did you get that?”, I asked.
“At that Jamaican truck down the street.”, He replied.
Theres a Jamaican truck down the street? I was baffled. I’d seen the hot dog cart, the smoothie truck, the other truck that simply serves ‘food’, but never the Jamaican truck. Who is this guy?
I don’t really know, and I haven’t seen him since, but I have located and dined at the aforementioned truck which is located at the corner of 8th and Spring Garden, right across from the Philadelphia Traffic Court. Small and large portions of a couple varieties of chicken, goat, oxtail, and beef are served along with your choice of two sides. The list of sides being quite long and containing collard greens, plantains, potato salad, rice and beans, etc... My choice: jerk chicken with sweet potatoes and mac n cheese. The small size runs you $7.

Now at this warehouse I make $8 an hour, wait no, I just got a raise, I make $8.50 an hour. So not being a thick walletted man, I generally try and keep my lunch budget to the $5 and under range. I mean one $7 meal is almost a full hour of my working life, throw in a drink and we’re there. Paying this price made me wince a little at first, but once you dig in you realize you definitely made the right choice. Basically your getting a meal that’s size, if consumed in one sitting, will fully incapacitate you for the next hour. Not ideal for the boss back at the warehouse, but fine by me. So a $7 meal at Jamaican D’s is sort of like one big meal and a snack. Eat 2/3rds on break, show up back at work feeling great, sloppily polish the rest off on the drive back home.
The sweet potatoes are astounding, truly sweet, almost like a dessert in comparison to the rest of the food. Heavily seasoned with cinnamon, which not only tastes good but masks the otherwise unpleasant stale odors lurking in my van. The mac n cheese is no old box on the bottom of a save a lot shelf powered cheese nonsense. A thick layer of coagulated cheese keeps the macaroni below moist and warm. And the chicken, the succulent wonderful chicken comes in four decently sized chunks, which you have the option of smothering in a delicious jerk sauce, which you obviously should do. It is very tender and peels right off leaving a clean bone at the center.
Aside from those beef patties you see around sometimes, I think this might be my only other experience with Jamaican food. I’m not sure how authentically Jamaican mac n cheese is, but it was good, and now knowing that they serve a quality product at this truck I might dip in for some more traditional fare next time.

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