Home Food How a Cake Became a National Obsession

How a Cake Became a National Obsession

by белый

For many Jamaicans, lychee cake is the taste of celebration. Its origin tells the history of Chinese immigration to the Caribbean island.

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During the Lunar New Year of 1988, Selena Wong wanted to create a special dessert for her family in Kingston, Jamaica. Ms. Wong, whose ancestors came to the island from China in the 19th century, was a self-taught baker who occasionally sold goods from her home.

Knowing the importance of lychees to the Chinese Jamaican experience, she made a light sponge cake that featured the canned lychees and their syrup. “I was riffing on the idea of strawberry shortcake, which has always been popular in Jamaica, even though strawberries aren’t native to us,” she said.

Her creation, which she simply called “lychee cake,” was a hit with her family, and, within a few years, a national obsession was born. The cake has become one of Jamaica’s most popular desserts, sold in grocery stores and pastry shops and by home bakers. It has even emigrated from Jamaica to become a cultural staple in cities with large Jamaican American enclaves, like Miami.

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Recipe: Lychee Cake

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