As a Christian nation, it’s no surprise that Jamaica celebrates the resurrection of Jesus. At this time of year, many people attend religious events, gather for family trips and, of course, prepare delicious Easter meals such fried fish and bread, and our fall back bun and cheese.
The fish and bread combo have become an Easter staple in town and country. It’s the most popular fish served at family gatherings and even at restaurants this time of year. It’s perhaps the only time that some of us are willing to trade this dish for the popular curry goat or fried chicken. While it has become a tradition, not many know or remember the significance of this simple but nourishing meal.
Some of you will (or should) recall that we first learned of this story during Sunday school lessons. With obvious delight, many of our Sunday school teachers talked about the miracle of Jesus feeding 5,000 people using his superpowers. Before a stunned crowd, he turned five loaves of bread and two pieces of fish into this incredible meal that served the multitude.
Not surprisingly, the event is known as the “miracle of the five loaves and two fish.” In the Gospel of St. John, it is reported that Jesus used five barley loaves and two small fish that he got from a little boy to perform this miracle. The Gospel notes that when Jesus saw the crowd he had compassion for them and even healed the sick. When we eat fish and bread during Easter it is our joyful celebration of this historic event.
Jamaicans love the tradition if we are to judge by how much we embrace this tasty meal, especially when our Red Snapper is well seasoned, marinated, then fried crisply. Of course, to complete the meal it must be served with the very colourful condiment of pickled onions, pepper, carrots and freshly baked Hardo white bread on the side. Even those who are not big fish lovers usually bow to tradition and nyam their fried fish and bread during Easter.