Diane Cooke talks to the couple who have brought real Caribbean cooking to an East Lancashire market

A TASTE of Caribbean sunshine cooked with love by a sweet Jamaican beauty called Honey is a welcome addition to Blackburn Market.

Kitty Honey is authentic Jamaican food done “Yardy-Style” – the name given to the occupants of the government yards in Trenchtown, a poor neighbourhood in Kingstown.

Basically, Honey cooks everything from scratch from the jerk chicken to the spicy beef patties – and that includes the pastry. No supermarket ready-made for this lady.

Honey is Michelle Ayrton’s nickname because apparently Jamaicans are big on nicknames - that’s why she calls Keith – her English husband – Kitty. Hence the name Kitty Honey.

Honey, 33, who was born in Jamaica met Kitty 12 years ago at a wedding. He was working as a fisherman with a jetski business which was decimated by Hurricane Sandy in 2012.

“We were visiting Kitty’s mum who was poorly here in England at the time. It was devastating news. Nothing was left of the business and we literally had to start our lives from scratch with nothing,” says Honey.

Kitty Honey Jamaican Food was able to get off the ground with the support of Enterprise For All – an organisation for small businesses. And if it takes off the way Honey hopes, she’s planning on launching her own Jerk Centre selling all the Carribbean favourites and the essential Red Stripe beer. “You can’t eat Jamaican food without a Red Stripe,” she laughs.

Honey’s specialities include Curry Goat – “It’s a delicacy in Jamaica saved for Sunday dinners and special occasions. I’ve sourced a local butcher who sells goat and it’s a lot cheaper here than in Jamaica.” She serves it up with traditional rice and peas.

Ackee Saltfish is Jamaica’s national dish, but it’s hard to get hold of the indigenous ackee fruit which can be poisonous if eaten when un-ripe. But Honey’s managed to find it in tins. “It looks like scrambled egg when it’s cooked, but the taste is like nothing I have ever tasted in England. It’s delicious.”

Her doughnut bread, made with sugar, cornmeal, baking powder, flour, and vanilla then deep fried - is something every market-goer ought to sample. Then there’s the peanut and plantain porridges and Upside Down Pineapple Cake. It’s Caribbean Paradise for the tastebuds.

Honey has sourced all her spices and seasonings from a supplier in Staffordshire. She makes her own home-made jerk paste - a sweet and powerfully spicy marinade or sauce base, for £2.50 a jar.

She also sells typical Jamaican soft drinks including flavoured Aloe Vera, Coconut Water – which is good for lowering blood pressure – and Sorrel Ginger, which is traditionally served at Christmas with rum.

Honey will be selling her food at Darwen Live Festival over the May Bank Holiday and Preston Carnival on June 29.

Jerk Chicken

  •  Jerk Chicken is believed to have been born when African meat-cooking techniques were introduced to Jamaica and combined with the native seasonings there. The method of smoking meat served two purposes: keeping insects away, and preserving it for longer once it had been cooked. It also introduces a strong smoky flavour.
  •  There are two theories about how the name ‘jerk’ came to be used. One is that it originates from the Spanish word ‘charqui,’ used to describe dried meat, and over time this term evolved from ‘charqui’ to ‘jerky’ to ‘jerk.’ Another theory is that the name derives from the practice of jerking (poking) holes in the meat to fill with spices prior to cooking. Nowadays, the word ‘jerk’ is used as the name of the seasoning, and also as a verb to describe the process of cooking.