Exploring food and music culture in Kingston

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A mural at the Bob Marley Museum in Kingston, Jamaica.
A mural at the Bob Marley Museum in Kingston, Jamaica. Photo Credit: Meagan Drillinger

Kingston is a colorful tapestry of Jamaican culture, one that is not piped into all-inclusive hotels or manufactured for novelty. This is the real deal. And it is one of the best places in the country to celebrate Jamaica's culture, specifically in the forms of food and music.

The city has begun to position itself as a gastronomy destination, according to Nicola Madden-Greig, group director of marketing and sales for the Courtleigh Hotel Group in Kingston as well as the immediate past president of the Jamaica Hotel and Tourism Association. A website, TasteJamaica.com, is devoted to documenting the flavors of the nation; visitors to the site can explore where to get the best of different types of cuisine, from casual breakfasts to fine dining and everything in between. Tabs highlight new restaurants, hot spots and food events.

Kingston is also promoting its Blue Mountain culinary trail, which highlights traditional food from unique dining spots that can be found among the Blue Mountains surrounding Kingston. Some of the participating members include Crystal Edge Restaurant, River Deck Restaurant and Lounge at the Serendipity Resort and the Gap Cafe.

According to Jamaica's minister of tourism, Edmund Bartlett, approximately 88% of tourism around the world is food-related, so Kingston is looking to capitalize on its local flavor. 

In the meantime, on the horizon next month is Restaurant Week Jamaica, a weeklong event that showcases a wide range of cuisines in restaurants across the island at modified prices.

Similar to cuisine, music is an ingrained part of Jamaica's culture, and Kingston can claim native sons Bob Marley and Peter Tosh and the birthplace of musical forms like ska, dance hall, rocksteady, dub, and, of course, reggae. The city in 2015 was designated a Unesco City of Music.

There are several ways to experience music in Kingston, from the Trench Town Culture Yard, which hosts a small museum that displays the history of Trench Town, to the Bob Marley Museum and studio tour, and the new Peter Tosh Museum and the Jamaica Music Museum. 

February in Kingston is Reggae Month, an annual celebration that pays homage to Jamaica's native genre. Recurring weekly on Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturdays at the Bob Marley Museum are lectures and workshops, a concert, and the JARIA Honour Awards. 

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