Gerry Glynn of EatDrinkJax.com interviews Trevor Davis and Avis Davis about Taste of the Islands.
1. Tell us about Taste of the Islands Mobile Cafe
Trevor: We’re a food truck that features a wide variety of foods from all around the Caribbean. Avis is Jamaican and I’m Bahamian so many of our dishes will be a fusion of those two cultures but we’ll also be introducing people to tastes from many of the other Caribbean Islands as well as from Cuban and Hispanic culture.
2. How would you describe the difference between Jamaican and Bahamian food?
A lot of the ingredients are the same but each comes with a slightly different twist. Bahamian food is often fried and is served with a tomato base whereas Jamaican food is usually grilled and features a more intense spiciness which is seen in its popular jerk sauce.
In Jamaica rice and peas are very common in a dish. In the Bahamas there’s something similar, but it’s called “peas and rice.” They sound similar but they’re prepared quite differently. Jamaican rice and peas are made from red peas that are flavored with coconut milk. Bahamian peas and rice are made with Pigeon peas and use more vegetables such as tomatoes, celery, onions and green peppers in the rice itself.
The Island curries are another example. There is Trinidadian curry, Jamaican curry, and Bahamian curry - they use similar ingredients but have their own distinctive tastes.
Bahamian style Baked Chicken
3. How did you come up with your specific menu?
Trevor: I started cooking with my mother at the age of 12 years old and by age 14 I was cooking family dinners on my own. After Avis and I got married her mother gave me a lot of authentic Jamaican recipes. Also, we used to live in South Florida and we got a lot of Cuban recipes while we were there. So, it’s a lifetime of cooking that’s given me a base of recipes to choose from. On the truck I want to highlight some of our favorite recipes as well as the Island classics.
4. Did you change the recipes for an American audience or are they what you’d get in the Islands?
We wanted to keep the recipes as authentic as possible but we also wanted to make them accessible to people who are new to Island dishes. So, one thing we did was to tone down the heat in some of the jerk sauces. There are a lot of flavors and seasonings in a jerk sauce. What we did was to lower the temperature from the peppers while keeping all the other flavors and seasoning. That keeps the flavor authentic but without the intense heat. For people who want things spicier we have the option to increase the pepper heat by adding our homemade jerk sauce. One other change we made was to serve our Jerk Chicken skinless and boneless. Traditional jerk chicken is served chopped up with the bone still in. By serving a boneless chicken breast it’s more palatable to many people and it’s also easier to serve up at lunch.
Bahamian style Tuna Melt and Fries
5. Can you recommend something for someone who’s new to Island cooking?
The Jerk Chicken Sandwich is a great place to start. It’s full of flavor and is served with lettuce, tomatoes, and red onions. The chicken breast is cooked on an outdoor charcoal grill to provide the full, authentic flavor. The sandwich is served with a side of fries.
From there, I’d recommend trying a meal of Jerk Chicken with rice and peas, cabbage, and plantains. That will give you a full Island experience.
6. What would you recommend for someone who’s been to the Islands and is looking for something to remind them of that experience?
It all depends on what Island they’ve been to. We have a fusion of different Island tastes. We have a great Fried Fish Filet with Bahamian peas and rice, cole slaw, and fried plantains. That will really say “wow!” to your palate.
Another good option is our Reggae Bowl which is made from Jerk Chicken, rice and peas, plantains and steamed cabbage. That’s a very traditional Jamaican meal.
Fried fish, peas and rice, coleslaw, macaroni and cheese
7. What’s the most popular item on the truck?
The Jerk Chicken or the Mojo Pork!