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Jerk is the process of spicing and grilling meats, poultry, and even vegetables. Jerk is also used as a noun when describing the dry or wet seasoning mix used to jerk a particular food.

The term jerk is said to come from the word charqui, a Spanish term for jerked or dried meat, which eventually became jerky in English. Another origin is linked to the jerking or poking of the meat with a sharp object, producing holes which were then filled with the spice mixture.

Like most Caribbean islands, Jamaican foods are derivative of many different settlement cultures. Jerk shacks thrive on the side of the road in Jamaica as a local fast-food industry.

The origins of jerk pork can be traced back to the pre-slavery days of the Cormantee hunters of West Africa through the Maroons, who were Jamaican slaves that escaped from the British during the invasion of 1655.

The seasoning has three main ingredients: chile pepper, allspice berry, and thyme. Other spices and herbs (which may include cinnamon, ginger, cloves, garlic and onion depending on the cook) are combined with these and applied to the food which is then allowed to marinate and then grilled.

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