Depending on the time of year or the context in which it is used, the expression, “Yuh get Bun?” can elicit a range of responses. You see, in Jamaica, there is the bun you love to receive, and the bun you hate to receive. One is the sweet, tasty, bread-like treat, consumed daily by Jamaicans and which is especially popular during Easter time. The other is the first step in what often ends up being a domestic crime scene.
Overseas, they have the Easter Bunny. We changed it up a bit, dropping the ‘ny’ from the bunny, thus labeling it Easter Bun. Seriously though, like many of our other local traditions, our bun, more specifically the spiced bun, came from our former colonial masters, the English, who traditionally baked hot cross buns on Easter Friday. In Jamaica these were made available to the poor, who anticipated this time of the year and the rest, as they say, is history – we were hooked!
Moving on in time, funny and clever advertising increased our desire for bun at Easter time. Who can forget the Boysie Easter bun ads?
Undoubtedly, a watershed moment in Jamaican product advertising. To this day, I remember my dad watching one of those ads for the first time and laughing so long and hard at the line, “…soh is di mongoose grease up yuh mout corner soh?”, that I was sure he was going to pass out.
In high school, I, like so many of my friends, looked forward to lunch-time and our usual order of a small spiced bun, patty and drink. This was all the nourishment I needed to get through the inevitable fight or two, the second half of the day’s classes and my trek home.
Even today, the litmus test for an Easter bun is that it should taste at least as good as that little spice bun I ate everyday in school. Another feature of a quality bun is its becoming increasingly moist and tastier with each passing day (up to a point, of course!). If, after say a day of opening the bun, you needed a glass of water just to guaratee it safe passage to your stomach, then that was not a good bun!
No one knows the shelf-life of a bun or ever noticed an expiry date printed on its packaging. Indeed, a great bun ought not last more than three days on your kitchen counter. During the Easter week, if there is not a plate of bun and Tastee Cheese (accept no substitute!) within arms length at all times I feel that something is missing from my life. Any type of strenuous activity on those days would surely result in my sweating sugar!
During the Easter season I have seen bun replace fruit in the fruit section of the supermarket. In other supermarkets the Bun would be stacked as high and wide as to obscure the trolley depot and cause a pile up of shoppers entering the store. It’s also a crazy time where one may even hear of persons fighting over the last bun left at the bakery.
Yes, Bun (the good one!), is certainly something we can’t live without.