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News Americas, LONDON, England, Thurs. Aug. 23, 2018: There is no denying that “jerk” is a cooking style original to the Caribbean nation of Jamaica; and that it dates back to the Spanish colonizers, and later, to the Taino Indians and escaped African slaves, who had to preserve meat and cook it slowly over wood fire to survive.

The original jerk method of cooking is defined as the process of seasoning meats and seafood with all-spice or pimento, birdpepper and salt, and then slowly cooking the meat over a smoking wood fire – under branches – using pimento or other wood.

But now a famous British chef and restaurateur has slapped the name on a bizarre new product he is promoting, and despite severe criticism, he is standing his ground.

Chef Jamie Oliver has released a new microwavable rice product he calls “punchy jerk rice,” and says he came up with that name for the product, which contains garlic, ginger and jalapeños, to show where he drew his culinary inspiration from.

“I’ve worked with flavors and spices from all over the world my whole career, learning and drawing inspiration from different countries and cultures to give a fresh twist to the food we eat every day,” the TV chef and restaurateur said in a statement.

“When I named the rice, my intention was only to show where my inspiration came from,” he added, much to the angst of many Caribbean and Caribbean roots nationals who know there is nothing like “jerk rice” but rice and peas and jerk chicken, jerk pork, jerk lobster and jerk fish.

Jamaican roots, British Labour Party MP Dawn Butler is one of Oliver’s critics. Butler called him out for “appropriation from Jamaica” and said it “needs to stop.”

“I’m just wondering, do you know what Jamaican jerk actually is? It’s not just a word you put before stuff to sell products. … Your jerk rice is not OK,” Butler tweeted.

Jamaican-born chef Levi Roots, for his part, called Oliver’s decision to launch the jerk rice dish a “mistake,” adding that he has previously shown the chef how to make ‘real deal’ jerk cuisine.

Celebrity chef Rustie Lee, who was born in Portland, Jamaica and specializes in Jamaican food, said she had tasted the £2.35 microwaveable rice and it was “like Caribbean rice and beans.”

“The jerk part of it is barbecue and you can’t barbecue rice,” she added.

It is not the first time Oliver has offended many Jamaicans. In his book, ‘The Return of the Naked Chef in 2000,’ he borrowed from another Jamaican staple, Saturday Soup, by describing it as a “chunky, robust soup that is supposed to use up any leftover vegetables,” and added in the commerical: “Who cares where its name comes from – it’s bloody tasty on a Monday, and that’s all that matters.”

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