What it is: In places where the Caribbean, and especially Jamaican, population is high, jerk is omnipresent. The term can refer to a number of things -- serving as an adjective, a noun, and a verb -- but it can trace its roots back to 17th century Jamaica. According to the Jamaica Observer, The Taíno, a formerly indigenous people on the island, created a meat seasoning and preservation method called charqui (which roughly translates to “jirk” in English), which was eventually adopted by escaped African slaves who joined them following the British invasion in 1655. The former slaves, who helped create Jamaica’s Maroon population, would poke holes in their meat (a.k.a. “jerking”) to allow more flavors to seap in while they cooked the meat underground, similar to Spanish and Mexican barbacoa. The Maroons used a variety of things available to them to season their jerk meat, but spicy Scotch bonnet peppers and pimento eventually formed the seasoning’s foundation. Jerk marinade can either be dry or wet and tastes incredible on a variety of proteins.
A solid pre-bottled version: Walkerswood Traditional Jamaican Jerk Seasoning