An Ode to Jamaica’s Tastee Patty
In praise of the perfect patty
By Sarah Greaves-Gabbadon
CJ Travel Editor
Served piping hot in a brown paper bag, the Jamaican patty – a meat-filled pastry pocket similar to Brits’ Cornish pasty or Latins’ empanada ¬– is to islanders what the burger is to Americans: inexpensive, filling and utterly delicious comfort food.
And on island, patty fans generally fall into two camps: devotees of either the Tastee or Juici brands.
As a former Kingstonian, I’ve been eating Tastee patties since I was a child. The steaming minced-meat filling, the buttery golden crust that inevitably ends up decorating your chest or floating on the top of your D&G soda … yum! And now, whenever I touch down at Norman Manley, the airport patty shop is my first stop after clearing Customs. Let other travelers tap their toes anxiously on the curb as they wait for their rides or jump on their cellphones to let friends know, “Ah reach!” Me, I’m totally focused on my precious, grease-speckled brown bag and the spiced scent wafting from within.
At 49 years old, the Tastee patty is also a Jamaican oddity, as consistent in its flavor and quality today as it was decades ago when my mother would take us stop to Sugar & Spice bakery for an after-school treat.
But years of living in Mo’Bay as an adult have also given me an appreciation for the iteration made by Juici Patties, the Clarendon-based challenger to the Tastee throne that’s been around a “mere” 35 years.
It, too, offers a mouthful of meaty goodness enveloped in a saffron crust, and, truth be told, I’m not sure that I could differentiate it from Tastee in a blind taste test.
But it’s just not the patty I grew up with.
The bottom line: Both brands are pretty darn good, and offer outstanding value for money at about a U.S. dollar a piece. Try both and see which one you prefer. But me, I’ll always be #TeamTastee.