We spent a whopping 3 months in Trinidad!
This was NOT planned and didn’t fit our supposed schedule very well. However…. it did give us ample time to try out all the yummy foodstuffs available in Trinidad.
It was a very good thing that we left when we did, otherwise we might have been too heavy for even our 26 ton steel boat to carry us away, lol.
The Snow Cone was our very first introduction to Trinny food. During the VERY HOT Independence Day Celebrations, we saw people walking around with polystyrene cups overfilled with white stuff and a straw sticking out of it. The little carts on wheels advertised their wares as ‘Snow Cones’ so at least we knew the name of what they were eating. Frans and the girls went off to investigate while I found a shady tree and just sagged down.
The Snow Cone is made up of very finely crushed ice AND blue, red and pink syrup-flavouring AND condensed milk! The vendor fills the cup halfway with ice and then squirts in a generous dollop of condensed milk. He then proceeds to put more ice until it forms a sticking out ball on top and squirts on the syrup flavourings according to your taste. (Extra condensed milk may also be added at this point).
The straw they stick into the cone turns out to be the key to eating it. You can, of course, wait for the “drink” to start melting and suck it from the bottom, but the best way is to stick the straw into the ice concoction right to the bottom and then take out the straw and slurp it from the bottom. Very dignified indeed!
At that point I was still under the illusion that I would be able to watch my weight in Trinidad and I had a ‘snow cone’ with only ice and a straw. I still maintain that mine was the most refreshing and maybe I was right, for those were our last snow cones for the whole stay.
There were quit a few other things that we didn’t eat only once or twice – but MANY times. In fact, as many times as possible. Rotis, Doubles, Buss-up-Shot, Punch, Corn Soup, Fudge, Ice-cream.
The best Rotis were to be found right inside the boatyard. This is where the workers buy their lunch. It was very easy to know ‘where’ the Roti hut was, but it took us quite a while to figure out the ‘when‘. It never seemed to be open when we checked. One morning Karin J & Sophia found it open and rushed to tell us and then rushed back to order Rotis. They were then told to come back at lunchtime – Rotis are NOT on the menu for breakfast. Lunchtime the hut was closed. We decided that the roti hut was like one of those magic shops that actually open in more than one dimension. Same time, but different place. We were just lucky whenever we caught it in our dimension.
Anyway, it took some time to figure out that lunchtime in Trinidad started at 11:00 in the morning! Also, that we could put in an order in the morning and fetch it at lunchtime. By 12:00 they would always be sold out.
This was, in fact how we got to know the Buss-up-Shots. We sent Karin J and Sophia to go and buy some Rotis (this was before we realised that we could order). They came back to tell us that there were no Rotis left, but the lady said we could have something else. Marike went back with them and returned with two “mangled” Rotis and some vegetables in another polystyrene container. To Marike it sounded like left overs, but we tried it anyway. It was delicious!!!! Only afterwards did we read about the “Buss-up-shots”. They apply a specific technique to get the “mangled Roti” look. Two long knifes and a motion as if folding a shirt is done to the Roti dough. From there the name : Bust –up – shirt. Also available in Lamb, Goat, Beef or Chicken.
A Roti is a large, flat pancake folded around your choice of filling. If you do not specifically ask for ‘Chicken without bones’ (their concession to the uncultured tourist), you will have many small bones to negotiate while eating your Roti. They simply seem to chop up the chicken meat – bone and all! The lamb, goat and beef undergo the same treatment, but the pieces of bone are bigger and easier to miss. The lamb and goat tasted surprisingly similar and turned out to be family favourites. Some preferring lamb and some goat.
Oh yes, I nearly forgot. When ordering any food in Trinidad, be sure to clearly articulate the words “SLIGHT pepper”. You will then be able to eat your still quite spicy purchase. I personally know of only one non;-Triny who might, MIGHT, be able to enjoy the normal pepper ratio – and that is my brother-in-law Paul van Zyl : )
Now for the Punch. This has absolutely nothing to do with that alcoholic fruit drink that used to be served at parties during the eighties in large glass bowls.
This is a smoooothie. Made up of condensed milk, fruit of your choice, spices, extra sugar (yep, this is not a printing error),milk and ice.
Marike always chose the Soursop flavour. Soursop is a real bizarre name for a fruit – right? Yet really delicious and family of the Custard Apple.
Karin and Sophia played it safe with Banana, but Frans was willing to try a different one on the menu each time. He had a Seaweed-and-cherry Punch once, but drew the line at vegetables and didn’t have the guts to try the Beetroot smoothie.
I chose Banana too as they are naturally sweet and I left out the sugar and condensed milk. Franci chose the Carrot Punch as her very last choice. It was surprisingly good.
Punch was our treat when we went to the huge Fresh Produce Market on Saturday mornings. To reach the Punch stall we had to exit the Fruit-and-Vegetable section and brave our way through the smelly, bloody, Fish-and-Meat market. Here there were chopped up carcasses and horns, huge meat choppers and scary men slicing really big tuna into steaks.
Doubles is a breakfast food, only available early in the mornings. It is a street food sold from little makeshift stalls. However, the stalls do seem to have permanent places. There was a Doubles stall right outside the Marina where Shang Du was kept.
As far as we can tell, Doubles are made up of two little pancakes with filling. The filling consists of a sweet Curry Humus and some chickpeas and of course, PEPPAH!! You DEFINITELY ask for SLIGHT peppah. The vendor nearly uses sleight of hand movements as he deftly takes a piece of wax paper and slides the two pancakes and different fillings on. The real treat comes when he quickly folds the paper and with a flourish twists the ends so that your double really resembles a huge candy, all rolled up with twisted ends.
We always ate our doubles in the saloon of our boat. At the table. With plates, knifes and forks. I have no idea how Trinnys manage to eat this soggy (but delicious) article while standing next to the stalls. The paper is so thin and end up sticking to your meal and the filling runs everywhere. It must take years of practise!
There is more than one way to eat corn in Trinidad. We tried the Roast Corn first. This was on a road trip to the Rio Seco Waterfall. Roast Corn is whole corn grilled over fire. It can be slightly burnt and a bit dry and chewy. I just remember being VERY hungry and that it tasted really good.
They didn’t have enough of the Roast corn, so we bought some Boil Corn too (NOT boiled corn – that would be un-Trinny). Man!! Those were really, REALLY good! They were soft and spicy and we even chewed the cobs because they were so flavourful.
The Queen Park Savannah is a big field of grass in the middle of Port of Spain. On Weekend nights there is a special section dedicated to food stalls. It is possible to find everything and anything here, including Corn Soup.
Corn Soup always seems to be made in a HUGE pot (50 liters or more). The queue at the Corn Soup is always long and the soup simply delicious. Marike was the first one in our family to try it. It includes whole pieces of sliced corn on the cob and some dumplings made from flour.
Corn Soup is apparently the best thing to eat right after a night of binging on alcohol. We cannot vouch for this, but they definitely served Corn Soup at 9’o clock one morning at the Ozone Park as revellers were stumbling out to their cars. We know, because we had a loooooong time to watch everyone from our car as the traffic was held up for more than an hour. We did not make it to Church on time.
In Tobago, the dish to have according to the books, is Crab ‘n Dumplings. We never got to sample this while touring Tobago, but when we found it at the Savannah, Frans just had to order it. Fortunately for him, we went back to the boat to eat. I have NO idea how he would have managed this meal, standing next to a stall.
Hamburgers bought at a street stall had a Trinny twist. You can ALWAYS have peppah, but there was also thinly grated carrot and cabbage as choice fillings. The patty is also very good and grilled over the fire.
There are only a few Shopping Malls in or near Port of Spain. In nearly all of them it is possible to find a Fudge counter. They sell the most delicious fudge and you pay by piece. Our hands down favourite was Coconut, but they also had Soursop and Amarillo and ……….. mmmm
We went to the famous Maracas beach one day. According to our travel guide THIS was the place to eat Bake ‘n Shark. So we obeyed.
Bake is like a big Vetkoek. The Shark part IS actual fried shark meat. But, like one guy said, it could have been a sock for all he knew. By the time you’ve piled on all hundred of the possible condiments, sauces and fillers – nobody tastes the shark anymore. It is a HUGE toebroodjie and one cannot eat anything else for a long time after.
Souse is one of the streetfoods of Trinidad that we just could not bring ourselves to try. It is made with pig trotters or chicken feet. The meat is boiled and served cold in a salty brine seasoned with lime, cucumber, pepper and onion slices. The thing is, we have no idea what it tastes like. It is the pail pig trotters or chicken feet overflowing the polystyrene cup that kept s us from wanting to indulge.
In the Massey Stores (supermarkets) they sell the best Peppermint-and-Chocolate ice-cream in tubs (about 5 liters). If ever in Trinidad, be sure to try this. We did. Over and over again.
They are also very well known for their home made ice-cream. During our trip to Tobago Island our tour guide took us to Mamas Ice-cream Parlour to buy the real stuff. Again, coconut and soursop were our favourites, but Frans also tried a little container of Guiness ice-cream. Yes, they actually had ice-cream that tasted like beer!!!
When you see blue ice-cream in South Africa, the ice-cream is sure to be Bubblegum flavoured. Fortunately for the girls, Lily (our American friend) came along on this trip and could tell us that this was anything but. The ice-cream was actually candy-floss flavoured and as the picture shows, a great hit.
When we list all the food we got to sample in Trinidad, we cannot but mention the meals we had with other people. During a lovely Zip-Line outing – organised by the Elliots – we had a really sumptuous Paella. They know just how to do the right amount of everything! Thank you Natasha 🙂 (Although I’m pretty sure that we had the “Slight” pepper version).
And if you are ever invited to the Knechtles’ home for a meal, DO accept. Heather is a five star cook and we loved every bite.
Just as I said before, for the sake of our weight, it was a VERY GOOD thing that we left Trinidad when we did.