Food for the soul!
From Jamaica to Haarlem, Fiona McGeever talks all things Caribbean with Marnetta Anderson the owner of Haarlem’s spicy lunch spot Marnetta’s Soul Food
If Marnetta’s welcoming smile doesn’t warm your heart, then her spicy Jamaican Jerk wings certainly will. Marnetta’s Soul Food which has been featured in delicious. Magazine offers an authentic taste of the Caribbean with a large dash of her personal style. “The biggest influence in my cooking obviously comes from my mother, as a child and a girl, in particular, you had to stand by your mother’s side while she was cooking so you could see how it was being done. The intention was that when you got older you already had the knowledge and when you got married you could cook a nice meal! of course, I didn’t want to do that but it was compulsory, so I had to stand there and watch her and help her and I’m really happy that I did! I have improved upon her recipes but I have also created and developed my own. Friends from other Caribbean islands have also influenced my cooking as we all do things a little different.”
Marnetta was born in Jamaica, before moving to England- first Sheffield, then London and now (luckily for us), Haarlem. After leaving the fashion industry in London, Marnetta struggled to find similar work in the Netherlands. It was then that her love for food was reawakened. “I always loved cooking, so I just decided I was going to cook! I started making soup and selling it in Mabrouk. At that time Haarlem wasn’t quite ready for Caribbean flavours so I worked in Amsterdam, I did pop-ups, a Summer season at the Blauew Theehuis, food markets, private catering and eventually this place came up and I just went for it!”
Marnetta is very customer-focused and wants everyone to enjoy her soul food experience. “The most important thing for me is quality and keeping it authentic. I want people to trust what they get from me, to know that they are enjoying high quality, healthy food made with the best ingredients. We are constantly looking at ways to improve things and make our options healthier.”
So, what can you expect from Marnetta’s Soul Food?
“Well, my Jamaican brown stewed chicken is a must! when my mother was alive every Sunday it was a staple. If that didn’t happen then the whole world would come to an end! It’s like the British roast, it was a whole process. On Saturday night you would have to have the chicken marinated and all the peas soaking in water, come Sunday morning you started the cooking. So when people come into the shop and ask me what I recommend, I always recommend it because it has a lot of me in it.” Marnetta’s Jamaican Jerk chicken wings are a total delight and her slow-cooked Island beef curry will melt in your mouth while enlivening your senses but veggies do not despair, catering to an ever-growing plant-based population is paramount to Marnetta, her pumpkin curry, inspired by her son’s love of pumpkin is the perfect veggie alternative as is her spicy plantain stew.
Why not add a little spice to your lunchtime routine with one of Marnetta’s creations? You can grab anything from a Jamaican burrito to Island beef curry with mac & cheese, or chicken wings with sides. Warning: you may struggle to revert to your usual kroket sandwich!
What’s next for Marnetta’s Soul Food:
Marnetta plans to introduce more finger food items to her menu, these items will be perfect for takeaway and are designed to be served as an accompaniment to drinks at home or with a meal. She also plans to start a podcast and maybe even some cooking classes so watch this space! Marnetta is passionate about food education and wants to share her experiences and the lessons she learned growing up. “It’s sad that children today think that everything comes out of a plastic bag, they don’t know where it comes from and so many people don’t know how to cook. It’s wrong not to empower people to learn how to cook.”
Her top tips:
Play around with spices, be adventurous!
You must try:
(Everything!) Although each dish is bursting with flavour, often it is the extra touches that really make a foodie spot memorable. You simply can’t leave Marnetta’s without trying her summer elixir- hibiscus flower cordial, a soothing fruity tipple to quench that hot sauce induced heat! Perfection! Oh, and grab some cassava chips for the journey home!
Location: Botermarkt 2, 2011 XM Haarlem