According to Helen Willinsky, author of “Jerk From Jamaica: Barbecue Caribbean Style” (Ten Speed Press, 2007), festival is a relatively new entry into the Jamaican culinary canon, “but it is already a must.” A cousin of cornbread and hush puppies, festival is a fluffy yet crisp cornmeal-based fritter that is often seasoned with nutmeg or vanilla, then shaped into “fingers” or long buns and fried. (To make them vegan, substitute an equal quantity of full-fat coconut milk or the whole milk.) A touch of nutmeg adds warmth, and salt balances and enhances the sweetness of the corn. Serve festival with jerk chicken, ribs or fish.
  • Total:
  • Serves: 10 persons



  1. Step 1

    Heat oven to 200 degrees. Line a sheet tray with paper towels and set aside.
  2. Step 2

    In a large bowl, whisk together flour, cornmeal, sugar, salt, baking soda and nutmeg. With a wooden spoon or your hands, mix in just enough milk to create a soft dough, about the same texture of Play-Doh. (The amount you need will depend on the humidity of your kitchen, and the amount of moisture in your flour and cornmeal.)
  3. Step 3

    In a Dutch oven or large pot, heat oil to 365 degrees. While oil heats, using a bench scraper or butter knife, divide dough into 10 pieces. Roll each between your hands or on your counter into cylinders about 3 to 4 inches long and 1 inch thick. (Avoid overworking the dough or the festival may be tough.)
  4. Step 4

    Fry 4 or 5 festival at a time, flipping them after 1 minute, until golden brown on the outside, about 2 minutes total. (Oil temperature will lower once you add festival; they fry best around 330 to 340 degrees. If festival appear to be browning too quickly, lower your burner.) Using a wire spider or slotted spoon, remove festival from oil and transfer to paper towel-lined baking sheet. Cut into one to ensure the inside is cooked all the way through; it should not look wet. If it is not fully cooked, cook each fritter 30 seconds to 1 minute longer. Transfer to oven to keep warm. Fry remaining festival. Serve hot.