Irish Moss, the Jamaican drink Bob Marley drank nearly every day, has some interesting health benefits.
“The greener you are, the wiser you will be.” —Bob Marley
Throughout his life, Bob Marley was loyal to the Rastafarian diet called “ital.” (A strict ital diet is vegetarian, but Marley, like many of his fellow Rastas, ate meat and most fish, but no pork and no salt.) He even took his own Jamaican chef, Gilly, with him on tour. At every concert stop, Gilly would create a post-show feast of “rice and peas,” rice and kidney beans steamed in coconut milk with thyme and a whole scotch bonnet pepper, with fried plantains on the side. Gilly would sometimes make an ital stew, too, with such vegetables as cauliflower, carrots, potatoes, and cabbage. Because ital dictates no salt, Gilly would season the food with fresh spices and herbs, including lots of garlic and thyme. He would also squeeze fresh juices and make Bob’s favorite drink, Irish Moss.
What Is Irish Moss?
Irish Moss is a thick drink—made with seaweed, condensed milk and cinnamon—which has a reputation as an aphrodisiac. Sabrina Webster, marketing manager for Bob Marley Group of Companies, explains that Irish Moss is a seaweed that originally comes from Ireland, hence the name. “The Irish consumed moss during the famine of the 19th century in Ireland, and migrants brought the moss to Jamaica,” Webster says. “The seaweed now grows on rocks in Jamaica. It is one of the most notorious drinks among men (and some women) who seek vigor. It is believed to ‘put lead in your pencil,’ and boost energy.”
How Can You Taste Irish Moss?
Jamaicans normally make their own drinks, buying the moss straight from fishermen, says Webster. “There is no specific way to know which one will have it,” she explains, “but once you find a fisherman who supplies the fresh seaweed, it’s easy to make an order thereafter.”
For those who don’t have access to a Jamaican fisherman, you can order Irish Moss online, and try using it in a recipe. You could also order a glass at one of Jamaica’s incredible ital cafes. Webster’s favorite is Soak Up restaurant on Harvey Beach in Montego Bay.