Festival is a relative newcomer to Jamaican cooking. Not until about twenty-five years ago did it begin to pop up at Hellshire Beach, where local vendors sell it with fried fish. It’s similar to a Johnny Cake except for its shape and slightly sweet flavor. It is one of the few additional menu offerings along with jerk at the Boston Beach jerk pits and other larger jerk centers. The crispy sweetened cornmeal is a great foil for the spicy jerk meat.
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- ¾ cup coarse cornmeal
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/8 teaspoon ground allspice (dry pimento berries)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- ¾ cup milk
- 2 cups vegetable oil
1. In a large bowl, mix together the flour, cornmeal, sugar, salt, baking powder and allspice. In another bowl, combine the vanilla and milk. Slowly stir the milk mixture into the flour mixture to achieve a thick batter. Turn the batter onto a floured surface, knead the dough lightly and form it into a log shape. Divide it into 8 pieces. With floured hands, roll each piece into a 4-inch-long sausage shape.
2. Heat the oil in a large, deep skillet over high heat until it is very hot. Fry the dough, turning each piece until golden brown all over, 5 to 6 minutes. Drain on paper towels before serving.