"One love, one heart," Bob Marley sings about bringing people together. He could have been referring to the effect he himself has had on Jamaica: His music has attracted reggae fans from around the world to the island, with the number of pilgrims only increasing after his death, in 1981. People may initially feel a connection to Jamaica because of the music, but once there, they also quickly develop a bond to the island after tasting its food, like fiery jerk chicken, coal-roasted fish and tropical fruits.
Last December the Marley family gave lovers of reggae and Jamaican food a new excuse to come: They organized a special tribute concert in the village of Oracabessa, on Jamaica's north coast. Leading American musicians, including Lauryn Hill (whose children's father is Rohan Marley, one of Bob's sons), Chrissie Hynde, Tracy Chapman, Erykah Badu and Busta Rhymes, and Jamaican legends Jimmy Cliff and Toots Hibbert performed their interpretations of Marley classics. Offstage they joined Rita Marley, Bob's widow, at Goldeneye, a hotel in Oracabessa built on the former estate of Ian Fleming, the author of the James Bond novels.
Sitting at Goldeneye under sea-grape trees overlooking a bright blue cove, Rita talked about Jamaican food over a lunch of escovitch (fried red snapper heated by pimento, Scotch bonnet chile and allspice berries) and stewed callalloo greens, which taste like collards.