West Winds: Recipes, History and Tales from Jamaica

This cookbook (272 pages) was published in August of 2022 by DK. The book takes you to modern Jamaica. David read West Winds and loved it; it wouldn't be on our site if he didn't recommend it.


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West Winds

Recipes, History and Tales from Jamaica

Riaz Phillips

Want to feel like you’re on a walk in Jamaica with a local, talking to his friends and sharing plates of food? Then this is the cookbook for you.

Riaz Phillips is a writer, video maker, and photographer. He was born and raised in London, but he’s passionate about the Afro-Caribbean food he ate growing up. So passionate that he self-published his first book. Belly Full: Caribbean Food in the UK is an in-depth look at Caribbean people and restaurants around the UK. It tells the oral histories of the chefs, butchers, grocers, and bakers who bring the food of a warm island to a cold one.

That same curiosity about people, what they eat, and how they cook infuses this book. It’s loaded with gorgeous photos that transport you to warmer climes and recipes with narrative vignettes woven into the headnotes. It’s delicious food, yes, but there’s always a story there, too.

You’ll find the recipe you expect; jerk chicken is there for you. But there are also creative possibilities like Macaroni Cheese spiced up with his 10-ingredient all-purpose seasoning and a sprinkling of desiccated coconut added to the buttered breadcrumbs on top. There’s also Dr. Bird Cake, a pineapple-infused confection with fragrant nutmeg and allspice, buttery pecans, and cream cheese frosting.

And there are spiced patties, the irresistible hand pies with golden pastry so buttery-crisp, ‘you just have to accept the pastry flakes are going to get everywhere.’

If you want to get hit in the face with new, bold flavors — and bring a bit of the Caribbean islands to your kitchen, West Winds is a fantastic place to start.

My grandmother Mavis always cooked. I can still hear the sound of her flickering gas hob boiling a pan of water in her Hackney estate flat in East London. From among the supermarket shopping bags in her trolley always emerged more bags: brown paper ones, bright lube, or red and white-striped plastic bags in which plantain, Scotch bonnets, green bananas, and yams were nestled. As a child, I didn’t give this a second thought. It wasn’t Jamaican food, it wasn’t Caribbean food, or anything foreign, it was just food… — Riaz Phillips

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