A foodie’s guide to Trinidad and Tobago

A foodie’s guide to Trinidad and Tobago

A foodie’s guide to Trinidad and Tobago

All too often we associate Caribbean cuisine with all-you-can-eat buffets. But if you’re traveling to Trinidad and Tobago, head straight for the street stalls and local restaurants, since this twin-island nation has some of the best — and most diverse — cuisine in the Caribbean.

This is due, in part, to its unique history and cultural mix, blending influences from Europe, Africa, India, China, Lebanon and Latin America.

A foodie’s guide to Trinidad and TobagoIn Port of Spain, Trinidad’s capital, head to the night market at Queen’s Park Savannah, where you’ll find vendors selling roti, doubles and corn soup. Or on Saturday morning, the Green Market — a local farmers’ market — offers up Latin American treats. My favourite? Venezuelan empanadas in corn-based pastry stuffed with pulled pork, beans, cheese and plantains.

It’s worth the trip to Maracas Beach, home of the local delicacy “bake and shark,” for a breaded, fried shark sandwich with loads of toppings. But don’t ask for ketchup: Try the local Trini hot sauce and garlic sauce.

And wash it down with an LLB (Lemon, Lime and Bitters) — a sparkling beverage by Angostura that you’ll quickly become addicted to in the Trini heat. If you want something with a little more kick, try a Johnnie and coconut water.

A foodie’s guide to Trinidad and Tobago A foodie’s guide to Trinidad and TobagoLook for one of the many street vendors selling doubles, a Trini invention for breakfast (or late-night snacking) made with “bara” bread topped with curried chickpeas and tamarind or mango. Make sure you “assume the position” by bending forward when you take a bite, or you’ll end up with chickpeas running down the front of your shirt.

Try traditional roti — flat bread served with curried chicken, goat or shrimp, along with all the fixings (like dhal, spinach and mango). Or try the “buss-up-shut” version, where the bread is ripped in little pieces that resemble a busted-up shirt, which you can dip in curry sauce. And don’t be a stush — Trini slang for someone who acts superior or stuck up — by eating with a fork and knife.

Another favourite is pineapple or mango chow, where fresh fruit is mixed with lime juice, hot pepper, salt, garlic and chadon bene (similar to cilantro). It’s that sweet, spicy, salty taste combo that will have you hooked.

In Tobago you’ll find a heavy Creole influence. Try the island’s signature soup, callaloo, made with dasheen bush, ochro and seasonings, often cooked with crab or pigtail.

And head to Store Bay, known for its colourful huts on the beach that serve up curry crab and dumplings (note: do not wear a white shirt while eating curry crab with your hands, as this writer discovered within about five seconds).

The main agricultural crops here are root veggies, such as yam, sweet potato, cassava and green plantain (which are great in fried form). Make sure to try the breadfruit — a large, green fruit with a starchy flesh that can be boiled, baked or fried like chips.

Head to Jemma’s Seaview Kitchen (a treehouse restaurant) for breadfruit pie; it’s not a sweet dessert but a savoury casserole-style dish, served up family-style. Or go for the macaroni pie. And yes, it’s exactly what it sounds like.

If you’re heading to Trinidad and Tobago, don’t forget to pack a pair of running shoes — you’ll need them to work off all those extra (and well worth it) calories.

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