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For many Jamaicans, Lent is a time to fast or abstain from certain types of food such as red meat.

During this period, there is a noticeable increase in the sale of fish in Jamaica, UK and other parts of the globe where Jamaicans live. Good Friday sees the culmination of fish dishes such as Fry Fish and Bammy, Escovitch Fish, Callaloo and Saltfish and of course the national dish Ackee and Saltfish. These and favourites like Bun and Cheese are an essential part of the Easter tradition.

This, of course, should be of no surprise as Jamaica is an island so fish is an important staple food for many Jamaican families.

So, what’s the history behind the national dish?

The Ackee fruit was originally imported from Ghana, in the early 18th century. This unusual fruit which starts off green but ends up a yellow/reddish colour when ripe bursts open and releases toxins. The cod or whitefish used for the saltfish was from Europe. Dried and the preserved with salt, the fish could then be exported.

Like Ackee and saltfish, another popular fish dish which derived from another culture and is eaten and enjoyed by Jamaicans and visitors is Escovitch Fish. This dish started life as Escabeche, a Spanish oil and vinegar marinade used on meat or fish.

We love our fish but we are aware that fishing is known to be an arduous task and the good news for fishermen in Oracabessa Bay in St Mary is that a new fish sanctuary allows them to catch more fish around the sanctuary. In the sanctuary, itself a variety of fish breed and are protected from a ‘no fishing zone’, which allows the fish population to grow significantly.

Rudie’s is not just a place for great food, but of course great company, so over this Easter period Rudie’s will be open for business as usual. We would love to see you and your family get together and enjoy a choice of small plates including ackee and saltfish, or peppered shrimps and mains of Market Fish or Escovitch Fish to you and Swordfish Steak, as ever, crafted the Rudie’s way with Yam, Coriander and Pesto.

If you can’t do without your meat, don’t worry about a thing, your favourites like Jerk Chicken and Curry Goat are still on the menu.

Don’t fancy chicken or fish, there’s the Vegetable Platter or Stew Peas.