Any page on Jamaican spices MUST start with our famous jerk pork seasoning.
A jerk pit was built from four forked sticks, about four feet long and as thick as your arm and these were driven into the ground to form an oblong structure about four feet long by three feet wide. Crosspieces of wood were placed in the forks of these posts and then a grill arranged on this. A pig was placed on this bed on its back, the belly wide open and kept in position with sticks to prevent it from closing when the fire is lighted...
The belly of the pig must be filled with lime-juice and plenty of salt and crushed pimento.. A large calabash or gourd full of gravy and another full of lime-juice, pepper, salt and pimento stands in the centre of the table and from these, each guest mixes his gravy according to his taste..
Later still in "Lady Nugent's Journal, March 1802", she
describes jerked hog dressed in the style of the Maroons, who
spiced their meats heavily in order to preserve them better. The
term "jerk" is thought to refer to the process of turning the
meat while it is cooking over the pimento wood fires.
The ingredients of a good jerk paste are usually escallions, ginger, thyme, garlic, cinnamon, peppercorns, nutmeg, pimento and of course, Scotch Bonnet peppers.
Attempts to introduce pimento to other parts of the world gave trees that failed to produce fruit and so were largely abandoned. Jamaica remains the largest producer of pimento, although it is also grown in Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Brazil and the Leeward Islands.What follows are links to more information on the active flavour materials in things like:
Be prepared however, since the chemistry of spices is not a simple matter. A recent review of the volatiles found in spices worldwide shows that they may contain hundreds of different compounds.