VIDEO: Eat Around Jamaica - Miguel's One Stop Yam Spot
Usain Bolt is the very first name that comes to mind when people hear about my home parish of Trelawny.
But there is something Trelawny is even more famous for - yam! Made even more famous because Bolt attributes it as one of the causes of his speed.
When I was told that I would be hosting the Eat Around Jamaica for Trelawny, 'mi glad bag buss', as we would say.
I was determined to find the perfect spot, one which would not only showcase the warm hospitality of my people, but also the amazing taste of our roast yam.
I called my parents and immediately tried finding a suitable location. With so many roast yam vendors in the parish, I decided I would wing it. But as we drove through Carey Park in Duncans, I saw a white sign with the magic words 'roast yam'.
I immediately jumped out of the vehicle to find out who was the owner. Before I could even finish my sentence, he began telling me about his menu. This man means business.
I later found out that his cookshop was called Miguel's One Stop Yam Spot. Miguel, as he is known by everyone in and around the community, has been a chef at the location for about six years.
"I get a good number of customers per day, including some tourists. The most requested items are the roast yam and the cold coconut (jelly)."
I was not surprised that roast yam is a bestseller, country
people love roast yam.
On a daily basis, patrons can get roast yam, roast breadfruit, soup, pork, and red herring and liver.
"What you want today? The red herring or the liver?" Miguel Clarke asked.
"You can't ask me which one me want, you fi ask me how much a each me want. Make sure you pack up mi box," I told him.
We began chatting about Trelawny and its new developments. He even stopped to show me his version of Usain Bolt's iconic pose.
Miguel's One Stop Yam Shop allows for 'window orders' for travellers who pull off alongside the hideaway for a quick bite. He also has a rustic seating area, complete with bamboo benches.
Interestingly, while I consider myself a 'bonified country girl', I saw Clarke with a new technique of peeling yam and a new variety of yam that I had never heard of.
While most people scrape yam, Clarke peeled his.
"This name Macka Yam. It too soft fi scrape. A one a the softest yam," Miguel told me.
Seeing that all his cooking takes place on wood fire, my eyes began watering. I began to sniffle and had to go outside to catch my breath. Miguel clearly was a superhero for being able to stand in that smoke day in, day out.
"How you manage the smoke? Me caan breathe," I said through gritted teeth.
"Me used to it. A my daily food this, a me make my money so me nuh too mind it," he said.
By this time he had finished 'boxing' up my food; he has certainly made good on his promise to 'sort out mi food' as the box could hardly close.
The chicken liver was cooked to perfection, tender and really flavourful. The red herring was equally satisfying. I haven't had herring in years and it was just as good as I remembered it, falling easily off the bones. Of course, the yam was slathered with butter and very delicious.
"Me born with the gift of cooking," Clarke said while I chowed down on what he had prepared.
He offered to show me his outdoor kitchen, where he was preparing pork. I was reluctant to put down the food and follow him, but he piqued my interest when he stated that he cooked pork with pimento leaves.
"It gives the pork some flavours. Me used to regular seasoning but me also use all-purpose seasoning," he told me, while instructing me how to stir the pot.
"Use the fork and tek up the pork and switch it over. You can see the mouth part of the pig now. Jam it and tun it over. Me a go make it boil fi about another hour and then it a go ready. Soft and nice," he told me in his Trelawny accent.
After what seemed like an eternity, standing over the wooden fire, stirring the pot, I was told that was enough. I immediately went to the sitting area to complete my meal.
Clarke then brought an ice-cold jelly to me, just what I needed to top off the perfect lunch.
"You plan to expand?" I inquired.
"If the Lord is willing," he told me with a smile.
One again, I complimented him on how good the food was. In-between bites he told me about his customers, many of whom stop by on a daily basis.
"A Yammie dem call me, enuh, 'cause me have the best roast yam round here. Everything I do is classy. Me food taste good and the people love it," he said.