Caribbean-American Heritage Month: Honoring People, Celebrating Food
Updated: Jun 26
Caribbean-American Heritage Month is a June celebration of the Caribbean people who have migrated to the U.S. and their many contributions infused into the fabric of our country.
I want to share with you a bit about:
Who are the people who come from the Caribbean
Caribbeans are descendants of Africans, Amerindians, Chinese, and Europeans, giving the region a beautiful tapestry of ancestral influences. Those who have moved to the U.S. bring amazing gifts in the areas of art, beverages, food, music, sports, and more. But today, I am celebrating the food. It feeds our bellies and our senses. Food brings us together at home and when traveling.
How Caribbean food traditions have become part of the U.S. Americans
Caribbean generations coming to the U.S. have brought us vegetables and fruits, peppers and spices as well as meat choices. Yes, I know peppers belong to the veggie and fruit categories (which category seems somewhat up for discussion), but with so many colors, shapes, tastes, and levels of sweetness and heat, well, I’m giving them their own category.
We are culinarily richer for the products and recipes brought to us from the Caribbean. And we're fortunate for the homeland pride that has people continue honoring their ancestors with generations of passed-down recipes.
Above dishes: Rice & beans ("rice & peas"); Puerto Rican jibarito steak sandwich; Jerk chicken, curry goat, fried dumpling and slaw; Jamaican patties; Baigan Chokha from Trinidad & Tobago; Dominican breakfast; Cuban octail stew and rice
Introduction to Caribbean dishes
I was first introduced to Caribbean food through my travels to the islands. Sometimes staying at a hotel, but more often cruising between them. The ships include some regional dishes, but one of my favorite activities in ports is trying local food and beverages. It’s a fun activity that teaches me about the local culture as well as the food itself. I’ve found that my absolute favorites come from Jamaica, Cuba, and Puerto Rico.
Eating local & a Jamaican slaw recipe
Between trips, I’m fortunate to have options to get my “Caribbean food fix” since we have a growing number of ethnic food restaurants here in the Philadelphia suburbs. A top choice for me is Ms. Tiny’s Jamaican Cuisine in Collingdale. In our county restaurant reviews, “Ms. Tiny’s” has an excellent reputation for “the best Jamaican food in Delco.” Their food is delicious, the portions large enough for many people to make two meals, and the prices reasonable.
During a recent visit, I got to talk with Dickey, the owner, and asked, “Who is Ms. Tiny?” His response hooked me into wanting to know their story. It’s a bit of a love letter to his grandmother, a lesson in reaching your goals and being part of a community. It fits perfectly with Caribbean-American Heritage Month. With his permission, I’m sharing his story.
Ms. Tiny, born and raised in Mandeville, Jamaica, was Dickey’s grandmother. One of her six children was Dickey’s father. Dickey was born in the United States. Ms. Tiny was so excited to see her grandson when he would visit Jamaica and “would spoil me to no end” according to Dickey. His grandparents owned a small store in Kingston which is probably where he was first bitten by the entrepreneur bug. His father and mother have also been successful business owners.
Ms. Tiny was a pillar in her family and community. She was known for cooking delicious meals for her family which she often shared with people in her neighborhood.
Dickey had a longtime dream of opening his own restaurant. Despite sometimes feeling like it would never happen, his tenacious nature kept him pushing toward his goal. Once he was finally able to open his own restaurant, he knew without question the name of the restaurant should be dedicated to his grandmother. Dicky said his “love for her was my driving force for success.”
Much like his grandmother, Dickey has become a pillar of hope and kindness in the community of Collingdale. He makes sure his customers feel welcomed and satisfied. Cleanliness and quality food are a top priority at Ms. Tiny’s. “We are so proud to be a part of the Collingdale community and we are so grateful for each customer who has supported us.”
If you are local to "Delco," you can reach Ms. Tiny's at:
533 MacDade Blvd, Collingdale, PA 19023
Ms. Tiny's Jamaican Slaw Recipe
Among their customers’ favorite items are jerk chicken, rice and beans, and their signature side dish, Jamaican slaw. It’s sweet and savory like traditional coleslaw but with a kick! And we’re lucky because Dickey and his wife, Tionna, agreed to share that recipe with my agency and our readers!
4 cups shredded green cabbage
1 cup shredded carrots
1/2 cup finely chopped green pepper
1/2 cup mayo
1 1/2 tablespoons white vinegar
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon red pepper seeds (crushed red pepper)
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
Salt and pepper to taste
Mix well, let it chill in the fridge and serve!
People will love it and so will you!
Take in Caribbean culture and food at home and on vacation
The chance to just relax and enjoy the people, sights, sounds, smells and, of course, the tastes of the place I’m visiting is something I enjoy and that builds memories of the places I visit. Maybe Anthony Bourdain was a distant relative because I can relate to how he felt food, cultures and relationships blend. It’s one attribute of why I like celebrations of heritages that built and continue to build the U.S. It’s also something that makes travel even more special.
Get out to celebrate. Look for a Caribbean restaurant. Find a festival. Learn more about the Caribbean online. Cook Caribbean food. With so many ways to enjoy this national celebration, I hope you will find a way special to you. Join the celebration! And if you are local, order a lunch or dinner through Ms. Tiny’s Jamaican Cuisine.
How about booking your own Caribbean cruise to embrace the cultures and foods?
Here is an example of the many, many possible options!
Looking for a cruise vacation that will enable you to experience Caribbean food in the ports? There are many options I’d love to discuss with you!