With the slow tempo of a Bob Marley-inspired reggae playlist in the background, Peta Leiba Demuren, is chopping garlic, crushing pimento, slicing onions and peppers, and marinating chicken for a busy night of fulfilling online food orders.
Chef Peta, as she is known, learned the art of authentic Jamaican cooking from her mother. Now, she's the chef and owner of JAQCC's Belly, a modern Afro-fusion restaurant that moved from Washington, D.C.'s Petworth neighborhood to Cleveland Park. With a unique melding of Jamaican, Nigerian and Cuban flavors adorning her menu, Leiba Demuren believes that Caribbean cuisine is rooted in dynamic spices, passion and the joy that arises from good memory.
"Caribbean food has highly impacted everything I know about existing, including every good memory," said Leiba Demuren, 38, a native-born Jamaican. "Our food has a lot of earthy flavors like coconut milk, jerk seasoning, curry, thyme and pimento, making our flavor wholesome, fresh, and tropical at the same time."
For decades, Jamaican carry-outs, Trinidadian bakeries, and Caribbean grocery stores have occupied storefronts throughout some of America’s most populated cities and thrived in various urban, suburban and rural neighborhoods that make up the United States’ vast landscape . As one of the trending flavors in the National Restaurant Association's "What's Hot 2023 Culinary Forecast," the bold flavors of Caribbean cuisine represent a new era in America’s culinary scene.
According to Tim Carman, a Washington Post food writer and under-the-radar restaurant expert, the modern revival of Caribbean food has been linked to greater media attention and the adaptation of well-known Caribbean dishes, such as Jerk Chicken, by mainstream restaurants.
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