Tonight, as a month-long personal experiment to try one new culinary wonder -- a gadget or recipe or restaurant -- each day in January comes to an end, I journeyed in to the snowy night for a piece of Jamaica. I found it at Good To Go Jamaican Cuisine & Fresh Juice Bar, 1947 W. Howard St. The jerk chicken, which came with a side of rice and peas (that looked a lot like dirty rice and black beans), fried plantain and steamed vegetables, was a first for me and a good, simple final meal. The bone-in breast meat was done just right and the tangy brown sauce, with hints of allspice and cinnamon, is something I'd love to make as a marinade for pork tenderloin. I ordered for the small, which was $9.50 and with seven small cut pieces of chicken breast, plus the sides, it was enough to feed two.
Exhausted and even a bit exhilarated from this 31-day quest, I walked through the door of Good to Go just 30 minutes before closing. That meant tonight's dinner would have to be good to go. Har. Har. But the short wait for my order made it clear that this is a place to come and spend some time learning about the thriving Jamaican community in Rogers Park. There was one man eating a bowl of stew at one table while paging through what appeared to be a Jamaican newspaper, two other men discussing a business deal at another table, and across the room the server and another customer chatted about their long day. Mon, indeed. The restaurants and groceries along this stretch of Howard serve a community that came to Chicago more than a half century ago. The first substantial influx of Jamaicans to Chicago was during the 1940s eventually establishing communities on the South Side, North Side, including Rogers Park, and the northern suburbs, including Evanston and Skokie, according to The Encyclopedia of Chicago. Today, the Jamaican community here keeps ties to the island through social groups, soccer and cricket, the Chicago encyclopedia states.
And, of course, food.
Cheers, and thanks for reading.