How to Eat a Jamaican Meat Patty


Step #1: Buy a meat patty. We prefer the spicy beef from Jamaican Pride Bakery.

The origin of the Jamaican meat patty — ubiquitous in neighborhoods like Bed-Stuy and Flatbush — is a matter of some controversy. Was it inspired by the Cornish pasty, and brought to the island by the Brits, or did the Spanish introduce the empanada even earlier? It doesn’t matter, because the flaky pastry filled with savory meat, fish, or veggies is one of Brooklyn’s best snacks. Here’s how to make it into a meal.


Step #2: Buy a coco bread to go with it — a soft, vulvar yeast bread sweetened with coconut milk..

The beef filling of the bread is finely ground — the Jamaicans call it a “mince” — and very spicy. It’s also more complex than you might think, often containing onions, garlic, tomatoes, thyme, and annato, a seed that is used to impart a yellow coloring in Latin-Caribbean and Mexican dishes.

Step #3: Put the patty in the coco bread, The patty fits inside the coco bread like a hand inside a glove, constituting one of the world’s greatest culinary embraces.

Cookbook author Mary Lambert Ortiz, in The Complete Book of Caribbean Cooking, writes about eating patties as a schoolchild in Jamaica:

I used to buy these patties for a mid-morning snack during recess, when I attended Wolmer’s School, in Kingston, Jamaica. The old woman who made them, and sold them to us from a big straw basket covered with a white cloth, had a generous hand with the hot peppers that give the patties their special flavor.

Step #4: Take your first delectable bite, and the filling oozes out.

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