Get your "JERK" on, mon'!
The term jerk is said to come from the word charqui, a Spanish term of Quechua origin for jerked or dried meat, which eventually became the word jerky in English.
Jerk is also derived from the action of jerking, which referred to poking meat with holes so that flavor could more easily be absorbed.
The term jerk spice (also commonly known as Jamaican jerk spice) refers to a spice rub. The word jerk refers to the spice rub, wet marinade, and to the particular cooking technique. Jerk cooking has developed a following in United States, Canadian and Western European cosmopolitan urban centers with Caribbean/West Indian communities.
History of Jerk Cuisine
Jamaican jerk sauce developed as an adaptation by escaped enslaved Coromantee Africans in Jamaica. When the British invaded Jamaica in 1655 the Spanish colonists fled, leaving behind a large number of African slaves. Rather than be re-enslaved by the British, they escaped into Jamaica's mountainous regions where they mixed in with the local Taínos.
Jamaican jerk sauce primarily developed from formerly enslaved Africans, seasoning and slow cooking wild hogs over allspice wood, which was to native to Jamaica at the time and is the most important ingredient in the taste; over the centuries it has been modified as various cultures added their influence.
From the start, the Coromantee slaves found themselves in new surroundings on the island of Jamaica and were forced to use what was available to them.As a result, they adapted to their surroundings and used herbs and spices available to them on the island such as Scotch bonnet pepper, which is largely responsible for the heat found in Caribbean jerks.
Jerk cooking and seasoning has followed the Caribbean diaspora all over the world, and forms of jerk can now be found at restaurants almost anywhere a significant population of Caribbean descent exists, such as the United Kingdom, Canada, or the United States. French Caribbean's "Poulet boucané" (Smoked Chicken) is quite similar to traditional Jamaican jerk chicken.