Jamaicans use pimento in almost everything they cook; meats, stews, soups, rice & peas, porridges and liqueurs. They also use the leaves, oil and seeds in herbal medicine. The love affair with pimento goes back over 1000 years ago starting with the Taino people (Arawaks).
and just over 500 years ago it was called ‘pimienta’(they thought it was peppercorn). The British later corrupted the Spanish name and called it ‘pimento’ they also called it ‘allspice’ because it had the flavor and aroma of cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg all rolled into one. At one point it was called ‘english spice’.
The most exciting aspect of the pimento story is the role it played in the natural history of Jamaica. The Spaniards release of wild hogs in the Jamaican country side centuries ago, created another web in the food chain and in short order became important game for the maroons in their mountain strongholds. With the presence of wild herbs and spices including pimento along with the wild hogs ushered in the now popular Jamaican jerk cuisine. In the book Maroon Story by Bev Carey, the author describes pimento to be an important ingredient in the dry sauce applied to the meat of the wild hogs. She also describes the barbeque grill used to jerk the hog as lengths of pimento wood giving the meat that unique and distinct flavor. The meat of course is cooked for hours until it is dry thus enhancing the ability to have a very long shelf life. As a matter of fact the maroons considered jerk pork to be a very important war food in the old days. Today, jerk cuisine is enjoyed by many all over the world. But it doesn’t stop there, the leaves, berries, and oil of the pimento tree all play apart in traditional herbal medicine. It is generally used for flatulence, aches and pains rheumatism, arthritis and respiratory problems like bronchitis, chills, coughs and more.
Michael Hines- The Pimento Story