Food - Drink
The Jamaican Origins Of Hummingbird Cake
BY CLARICE KNELLY
Hummingbird cake, a favorite in the southern USA, features bananas and pineapples, fruits associated with Jamaica. While the dessert does have roots in the Caribbean country, you may wonder how this cake — which has a tropical flavor, but is very much a western-style dessert — could have originated on the island nation.
In the late '60s, the Jamaica Tourist Board created hummingbird cake and sent the recipe to newspapers to put a spotlight on the island's fruits. The dessert became a hit and circulated throughout the American South, and was originally known as "Doctor bird cake," inspired by a nickname for the Red-billed Streamertail hummingbird.
Some say the cake is "sweet as nectar," which is what hummingbirds eat, or that yellow streaks in the cake are like a hummingbird's beak. Either way, the layer cake bears no resemblance to any aspect of traditional Jamaican cuisine and likely originated from British influence, making it a manufactured cultural mishmash dessert.