Southern Living magazine features Christmas traditions of Jamaican-born Texas restaurant owners
To celebrate the holiday season, Southern Living magazine featured Jamaican-born Texas restaurant owner and chef Nicola Blaque. The Christmas season reminds him of the end of year celebrations and the island’s family traditions. Blaque, a U.S. Army veteran, lived in Jamaica until she was five, and remembers her mother preparing for the celebrations days in advance, baking her traditional rum cake and his sorrel punch. Later in his childhood, Christmas was celebrated wherever his stepfather, who was in the US Air Force, was stationed. While the family’s location may be in New Hampshire, Texas, or Hawaii, Blaque’s mother ensured that their Caribbean traditions continued. Her aunts and grandparents would send boxes full of Jamaican spices and other ingredients so her mother could always cook up an authentic island feast.
Traditional Christmas meals in Jamaica include dishes like braised oxtail, fried plantains, ackee and salted fish, sweet potato pudding, and the classic rum cake. Jamaican Rum Cake is like a fruit cake made with dried fruit, citrus peel, nutmeg and cinnamon, and a splash of Jamaican rum.
During Blaque’s decade of service in the U.S. Army, she cooked vacation meals in the barracks and shared them with her fellow soldiers. After leaving the service, she attended culinary school and opened two successful Caribbean restaurants in San Antonio, where she now lives with her husband Cornelius Massey, two children and a stepson. Jerk Shack, its flagship restaurant, quickly gained recognition across the United States for its authentic jerk chicken, which is served by the pound like Texan barbecue. Its Mi Roti restaurant offers do-it-yourself wraps and bowls inspired by Caribbean street food.
Now the holiday schedule means Blaque and her family are staying in Texas, but she still celebrates Christmas in a familiar way by inviting anyone who needs a place to go to share the dishes of her childhood and legacy. . She and her husband welcome soldiers and others who may be alone in San Antonio for the holidays, just like her mother did. However, Texas has left its mark in its cuisine, and the menu includes barbecued ribs as well as jerk chicken and steamed fish. While this might not be a standard Christmas fare, “good food is good food,” Blaque believes, and in Texas, “every meeting deserves a rib, isn’t it? not ? “
Read the article on Southern Living.