The plantain at the Nyamming “explorative dining” experience, held in the belly of TT Liquor in Shoreditch in London, has a lightly fried crust, a starchy bite and is finished with a smear of corn custard and the hot tang of scotch-bonnet chilli jam. It is, as with everything on the four-course menu, evocative of more than just good cooking. Nyamming, which takes its name from Jamaican patois for eating, is investigating Caribbean food and culture beyond jerk chicken and rice and peas; and this first iteration is taking me right back to my roots by combining Caribbean and West African cuisine.
Against the backdrop of the Windrush scandal, it feels as though more British people of Caribbean descent are taking pains to learn about their history but, in general, the rich narrative of British-Caribbean food is not as widely known as it ought to be. Twelve years ago, Jamaican food entrepreneur Wade Lyn declared in the Guardian that it was “still difficult to find a Caribbean restaurant in most of our major cities, let alone some of our smaller towns”. Interest has grown since then, with the expansion of chains such as Cottons and Rum Kitchen, plus the arrival of McDonald’s jerk burger and Jamie Oliver’s jerk rice: Caribbean food is, for better or sometimes worse, part of the mainstream.