Jamaica supplies about 80% of the world´s consumption of allspice. It is known as pimento there (not to be confused with pimento, the pepper). It is Jamaica´s only indigenous spice and the only one native to the New World. Even though its name suggests a mixture of spices, allspice is a single berry from the Jamaican bayberry tree.
It is called allspice because the flavour is a blend of cinnamon, nutmeg, mace and cloves.
Pimento is used in marinades and in sweet and savoury dishes. It helps in the preserving of food.
In the Napoleonic War of 1812, Russian soldiers put allspice in their boots to help keep their feet warm and alleviate odor. Today the scent of allspice is often found in men's colognes.
My recipe of "carne de vinho e alhos", a Portuguese dish from Madeira (a must at Christmas) uses this spice, which is now hard to find in Portugal.
Jerk, perhaps Jamaica´s major contribution to international cuisine, is a type of seasoning that combines pimento with other spices and seasonings in barbecued meat, fish or chicken.