Jerk? At Wilkes-Barre festival this weekend, it’s a good thing

By Travis Kellar - [email protected] | August 3rd, 2017 9:57 am

WILKES-BARRE — Samuel “Sammy” James sells authentic Jamaican and Caribbean cuisine out of his food truck, which will be featured at Wilkes-Barre’s Inaugural Multicultural Parade & Festival this weekend.

James is a native of Montego Bay in Jamaica. He said he moved to Canada in the 1980s, where he operated a catering service and nightclub.

James has served authentic Jamaican cuisine locally since 1994, first operating in the Merchants Village in the former Walmart Building on Oak Street in Pittston.

Now he utilizes two food trucks to dish out plates of Jamaican cuisine throughout the Wyoming Valley.

James likes the idea of the Multicultural Festival, seeing it as a great way for his business to receive exposure and for people to get a taste of Caribbean cuisine.

Jerk chicken is especially popular on his menu.

“That’s the most popular item,” he said.

Jerk is a method of cooking in which a spice mixture called Jamaican jerk spice is drubbed onto the meat. James said the recipe is over 300 years old and can feature spices such as pimento, allspice, cinnamon, nutmeg, thyme and ginger.

James said that in the past on the beaches of Jamaica, people would dig holes in the ground and line the holes with rocks and leaves from pimento trees. Then they would stuff a pig with pimento berries and roast it over pimento logs.

“Ten hours later … it (meat) would just melt right off,” he said.

James also serves barbecued pork in his truck, which he said “goes like hotcakes.” Other items on his menu include rice and beans, roasted and habanero chicken, and jerk chicken wraps.

James’ jerk spices come in three heat levels — mild, medium and hot. That spice his something he attributes to the popularity of Jamaican food.

“People love hot spices and herbs,” James said. “They just love it.”

James has his trucks operating five days a week, typically Tuesdays through Saturdays. His food is so popular that he said he has a devout following that constantly seeks where his trucks will be.

For other Multicultural Parade & Festival stories, click here.

By Travis Kellar

[email protected]