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 Ital Cooking

The word ital is derived from the word vital, which reflects the Rastafarian practice of deriving words by replacing significant syllables with the character "I." Ital cooking is way of preparing and cooking food that is consistent with Rastafarian beliefs and practices. Like vital, ital means essential to human existence. Ital cooking is an eclectic form of cooking which in its strictest expression excludes the use of salt, meat (especially pork), preservatives, colorings, flavorings or anything artificial. In practice, in Jamaica, it involves using available foods and ingredients, which sometimes includes fish and dried salted fish, but usually not shellfish, and sometimes even a little salt. As a practical mater, cooking ital food outside of Jamaica, where fresh ingredients are not readily available, can entail using some canned foods, in which case additives and salt cannot be avoided.

Ital cooking is essentially traditional Jamaican cooking without salt, meat, and additives. Therefore, a good ital cook has to be skilled at using available herbs and spices to produce food that is palatable and tasty -- indeed ital food is often as tasty as traditional Jamaican cooking.

Coconut is a basic ingredient in ital cooking. Coconut milk extracted from grated coconuts serves as the base for most successful ital dishes. The coconut milk is often cooked as a rundown and the other ingredients added. Scotch bonnet pepper is another key ingredient. Pimento (allspice) is also a key ingredient. Thyme is another essential ingredient. Thyme not only provides a good flavor, it is a good substitute for salt. To this we can add other ingredients such as garlic, onions, scallions, green peppers, tomatoes, etc.

Ital cooking has expanded beyond its traditional Jamaican roots to include other foods such as tofu and many other foods and vegetables not native to Jamaica. To some extent then one can look at ital cooking as an eclectic approach to the preparation and cooking of food that is based on Rastafarian beliefs that can be applied to foods and ingredients that are available in other countries.

 
 

 

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