I wait all year for one dish right outside of the Roots N’ Blues festival. It is Columbia’s favorite Jamaican place, The Jamaican Jerk Hut. I always order the same thing, Jerk Chicken for nine dollars.
This year they were on 7th Street and Cherry Street, right outside of the Columbia College columns. Their tiny white trailer has so much character. The Coca-Cola sign declaring the menu is curved from wear, and the whimsical spacing of the letters always makes me crack up. They have a “Jamaican word of the day” posted in the glass window. Today’s was “Yaadie,” apparently meaning a Jamaican who lives in another country. Yesterday’s word was “Lightning bolt,” but its explanation was just, “No explanation needed!!!”
The power in the hut went out twice, once while I was ordering, the second while I had a mouthful of the spiciest, juiciest, most delicious chicken ever, followed quickly by a bite of rice. Yum.
After finishing up my plate and nearly licking the sauce off it, I wiped my hands on the piece of paper towel they gave me, and threw away my trash. But before I could leave, completely satisfied, an old man in a loose leather jacket, dancing next to his motorcycle blaring blues music gave me advice to finish off the evening.
“Blues, man. No one wants to cry, but that’s all right.”
He’s right. The best thing about this festival is not the food, although I could argue a pretty good case for it; it’s not the atmosphere, or the bands or anything. It’s a few moments that people let themselves live inside of Blues. Blues isn’t a music to just sing to or bob your head along to. It gets in your soul. It let’s your body and your mind cry.
And that’s all right.
By Maria Kalaitzandonakes