I never took to Dad’s cow foot soup growing up, but even at a young age I’d lick a plate of ackee and saltfish clean. Known widely as Jamaica’s national dish, the meal of starchy mashed fruit with cured fish became a favorite of mine during a childhood trip to Jamaica. My parents migrated from the island to Canada in the 1980s, and in their adopted home, they mixed up traditional Caribbean cooking with the novelty of North American food. Especially Dad, who famously made cow foot soup for my 10th birthday party because he couldn’t understand how children survived on hot dogs and pizza. Other kids who grew up between two cultures might know what this difficulty is like: My parents would roll their eyes when I asked for Kraft Dinner, and my friends would wrinkle their noses and ask “What is that?” when I brought curry chicken for lunch. But ackee and saltfish. Served atop a bed of boiled dumplin’ and green bananas, or with a thick slice of buttered hardo bread, bacon, tomato, and pear (what Jamaicans call avocado), I’ll take it almost any way it comes. A certain kind of bliss is rolling the softer-than-scrambled-eggs ackee around my mouth and rewarding myself with hidden morsels of peppers and salt-packed cod. Back in our small city in southwestern Ontario, ackee was elusive and saltfish (i.e. salt cod) was expensive, so the dish became an occasional treat until later in life, when I moved to the multicultural metropolis of Toronto. Moving to Toronto not only meant that I was able to satisfy my ackee and saltfish craving any time I wanted, but it also broadened my social circle. In my hometown, even the simplest conversations around race or culture from a non-white perspective were met with raised eyebrows and hyperbolic determinations of your political leanings, but Toronto was different. I met people, attended events, and had access to resources that allowed me to explore more of my identity without restriction—and it was during some of my own personal research that I stumbled upon the curious origins of ackee and saltfish, enabling me to see my favorite dish in a new light. What do our favorite dishes tell us about ourselves? One of the most puzzling things about the Jamaican staple of ackee and saltfish is that neither of its main ingredients are native to Jamaica. The ocean-spanning, generational story of how they got there tells an essential tale about the people they fed. Oral history reigns supreme throughout the Caribbean, but sources like the University of the West Indies and national information sites offer some more concrete details. With the horrors of the Transatlantic Slave Trade setting the scene, the story of ackee begins in Ghana. Records suggest that ackee officially arrived in Jamaica from Ghana, most likely via slave ship in 1778. As Kerry-Ann Morris, the writer of Jamaican Echoes shares, the yellow-skinned fruit was purchased from the slave ship’s captain in order to provide a nutritional source for Jamaica’s enslaved population, and became a staple food.