Trini Cuisine 

Trinidad and Tobago is not just about sightseeing. There is so much more behind the sun, sand and the sea. These two little islands are loaded with flavor and packed with taste.

In this blog I will like to highlight the top five foods one must try when visiting this beautiful twin island. Although there are so much more, this is the five that made the cut on my personal list of island cuisine.

Amy’s Must Try Trini Foods:

1) Doubles

Doubles
Doubles

What is doubles ? This is curried channa (chickpeas) that is eaten between two baras with a hint of pepper to your liking. Sometimes, it can even be enjoyed with shredded pieces of chicken, beef or even shrimp.   This for me is a weekend special. While awaiting lunch on a Saturday or Sunday morning I normally have two doubles with plenty pepper. Sometimes cucumber, mango or tamberine sauce also gives doubles a unique flavor that many Trini people as well as tourists enjoy.

2) Callaloo

Callaloo
Callaloo

This is made with spinach or “dasheen bush” as our Trinis refer to it. It is mixed with ochro and coconut milk for flavor. Crab or pigtail can be added for extra enjoyment. This is often eaten alongside white rice.

Tobago-December-2010-382

3)Crab and Dumplings

This is a favorite when visiting the sister isle of Tobago. Curry crab and dumplings are mostly available all year round and it is very accessible when at Tobago since most of the food outlets offer this. I must admit it is a heavy dish since the dumplings tend to full you very fast.

Richard's Bake and Shark
Richard’s Bake and Shark

4) Bake and Shark

When visiting Maracas you are most definitely overwhelmed by the amount of vendors there are selling bake and shark. My personal favorite just happens to be Richard’s Bake and Shark. He offers a wide variety of vegetables to add to your sandwich making it even more enjoyable and personalized to your liking. This consists of deeply fried shark eaten inside fried bread or bake.

Pelau
Pelau

5) Pelau

This is one of the simpler dishes in Trinidad and Tobago. It consists of rice which takes a brownish color cooked with peas and carrots as well as meat such as chicken, beef or even pork. Trinis enjoy this meal since it is easy to prepare when going on a “lime.”

If you haven’t tried the dishes that I have mentioned above I urge you to. They are undoubtedly a must have when in Trinidad and Tobago. These meals have helped in forming the rich island cuisine that we are known for. Apart from coming to Trinidad and Tobago just to enjoy the beautiful beaches and weather we also have tons of dishes that are guaranteed to savor your taste buds. Don’t be afraid, I promise you’ll like it 🙂

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Tobago Heritage Festival

Tobago Heritage Festival
Tobago Heritage Festival

One of the things I love the most about beautiful Tobago is The Tobago Heritage Festival. This festival starts from the middle of July to early August and it is a means by which Tobagonians preserve their culture by dressing up and depicting the different traditions and early life on the island. What this really is about is that every village perform a unique element which represents the history of the area. The performance is filled with rhythm from the beating of drums and entertainment with dancing and singing. Just as carnival in Trinidad, it is considered to be the main event in Tobago.

Some of the stories depicted in the Tobago Heritage Festival are The Tobago Ole Time Wedding, Natural Festivals Day, Superstitions and Folklore, Wake and Bongo, Sea Festival and Boat Christening. I have chosen to give you a brief overview of two that I found fascinated and that have encouraged me to do deeper research.

1) The Tobago Ole Time Wedding showcases the traditional wedding. It starts with the

Tobago Ole Time Wedding
Tobago Ole Time Wedding

Bachelor Night which includes lots of music and runs into the Bridal Affair on the morning of the wedding. This shows how the bride gets ready for her big day. After the wedding there is also the reception and the wedding concludes with food and speeches from various people. What makes this so unique from weddings today is the way in which people dressed. Not only the males in their black three piece suits, white gloves and umbrellas to shade their ladies but the women in their elegant gowns and beautiful jewelry pieces.

Douens
Douens

2) Tobago is filled with stories of mythical beings. Some of these include the stories of the Soucouyant, La Diablesse, Lugarhoo and Douens. At the Tobago Heritage Festival there is a special performace called Superstitions and Folklore where these creatures are portrayed since they play a major role in shaping the culture and history of Tobago. These myths are mainly based on devil and hunting stories.

The Tobago Heritage Festival is a great means of showing the younger generation life on the island in previous years. Although I have never experienced this festival it grabbed my attention while doing research. I believe that this is a great incentive by the various communities and a great way to preserve the rich culture and history of the island. I am most definitely looking forward to being apart of this event in the near future. 

Tobago- The Jewel of The Caribbean Crown

On the plane
On the plane

It was my first visit to Tobago and what better way to experience Tobago than with my family. On that morning, we got ready and boarded the first flight to Tobago. People always say that from Trinidad to Tobago is five minutes by plane but this was not the case. It was about twenty minutes. Twenty minutes of  thrill since I really enjoy plane rides. Its not only the turbulence that excites me but the scenery from high up is breathtaking.

As we arrived on this beautiful island of Tobago, our tour guide picked us up and carried us to some of the main tourist attractions in Tobago. It was the start of an adventure and, of course, a learning experience.

Fort King George
Fort King George

Our first stop was at Fort King George. This is known as the best historical site on the island and is located in the capital city, Scarborough. The view here is amazing. You can see the island’s coast especially that of the Atlantic Ocean. It is a great area for learning a little history since it consisted of a museum, canons and also a prison. We decided that we would eat lunch here and then make our way to the hotel.

View from Fort King George
View from Fort King George

Magdalena Grand Beach Resort is one of the finest and most exquisite hotels on the island and I was fortunate enough to have a short stay here. Not only is it well taken care of but the customer service and hospitality of the workers is one worth mentioning. It was not only at the hotel but every Tobagonian I met was very friendly and heartwarming maybe as they know tourism is the main economic factor for the island. My stay here was amazing. Undoubtedly I would love to experience this again. You know, everyone loves a little luxury once in a while and Magdalena Grand definitely is luxurious.

Magdalena Grand Beach Resort
Magdalena Grand Beach Resort
At the Nylon Pool
At the Nylon Pool

After organizing ourselves at the hotel, we decided to end our day by visiting the Nylon Pool. As they say, you cannot come to Tobago and not go on one of those glass bottom boats. At Pigeon Point we took a boat to the Buccoo Reef and Nylon Pool. The Buccoo Reef is known for being the most accessible coral reef in the Caribbean region. It is amazing to see the underwater habitats and just get an idea of what lies in the water. (Just a hint for when your’re sea bathing (lol)) I also got to snorkel. Another first time experience for me. As we arrived at the Nylon Pool I could understand why this is one of the most visited places in Tobago. It’s beauty is immaculate. The clear waters and sandy footing in which you indulge in is one to take full advantage of. What I got to understand also is that the legends says when u visit the nylon pool as a woman and jump in your age will jump back ten years and for couples that kiss beneath the waves you marriage is guaranteed to last forever. I guess I would have to talk to someone that did engage in this to know their faith.

From the Glass Bottom Boat
From the Glass Bottom Boat

Soon, evening was upon us and it was time to catch our flight back to Trinidad. I have no regrets whatsoever in my decision to travel to the sister isle. The number of miraculous tourists attractions are definitely worth seeing. After visiting Tobago and being part of its wonderful culture I am most excited to plan a longer trip. The name, “The Jewel of the Caribbean Crown” suites Tobago well as it most definitely is.

Resources:

1. https://www.google.tt/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=2&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0CCUQFjAB&url=http%3A%2F%2Ftravel-tobago.com%2Fhistorical-sites%2Ffort-king-george&ei=Ls8JVZD6D8KBgwSGpoD4DQ&usg=AFQjCNFFRvG4uDT90Yt-EhrfaOOyol9szw

2. http://www.buccoo.net/seaside/the-famous-buccoo-reef/buccoo-reef

3. http://www.uncommoncaribbean.com/2012/02/14/on-site-tobago-exploring-the-romantic-myths-of-the-nylon-pool/

4. http://www.mytobago.info/introduction.php

Carnival Tuesday

We all know that Trinidad and Tobago is the “Land of Carnival” which is “The Greatest Show on Earth” but how did this spectacular event come about? Before i engage you with my experience of seeing mas for the first time I believe that I should give you a brief history of Carnival in Trinidad and Tobago as I am aware that some of you may not know your history.

Mas started in the late 18th century when the French slave owners would organize masquerades and balls before the endurance of Lent. Lent is the forty day season of pray and fasting which starts on Ash Wednesday and ends on Holy Saturday. It is normally celebrated by the Catholic community and is used to prepare for the Lord’s Jesus Christ Resurrection on Easter Sunday. Slaves who could not take part in these festivities formed their own celebrations called “Canboulay” which is French for burnt cane. After the abolishment of slavery, Carnival took to the streets. People from all around the world started taking part in this event and added a new flavor, the one we know as Carnival.

On Carnival Tuesday I decided to go see the Carnival parades in San Fernando with my family. It was my first time ever experiencing this. Yes I agree, it has taken me far too long. I was a little disappointed at first since I really wanted to go to the capital city, Port- of- Spain and witness the parades on the “Grand Stand” but on arrival my mood quickly changed.

On approaching San Fernando the sweet sound of soca music filled the air and just as we got a place to sit I heard the judges announce that the first band was making their way to the judging point. My family is known to be very “frontish” as Trinis say. We like to be where the action is so we ensured that we got a spot directly opposite the judges this way we could see the bands portrayal.

As the first band approached I could hear the sound of steel pan and calypso music. This was relaxing to know that the fellow citizens of Trinidad and Tobago have not forgotten about the start of Carnival. The bands were in full costume that was beautifully designed with lots of feathers, beads and capturing colors and I could see why they say that Carnival Tuesday is for “Pretty Mas.” The bands would strut in front the judges in their costumes portraying their concept whether it be mythical, historical or some recent issue in the country. The masqueraders were definitely enjoying themselves as they danced to the latest soca songs, mostly that of Machel Montano.

At around 3 p.m they announced that Ivan Kalicharan’s portrayal for Carnival 2015 was up next. I was most excited as I knew he produced the band of the year in San Fernando for twenty- two times. You could clearly see the amount of preparation that had taken place before this day as each section knew what they were supposed to do. The designs for the costumes were amazing. I could definitely see why people enjoyed playing mas with this band. They had trucks with D.J.s, portable toilets and tight security. Watching their portrayal made me consider playing mas myself.

As the day came to an end and all the bands had passed the judging point, “las lap” began. This is where mas turns into a party. Masqueraders, as well as the spectators began to take over the streets and party together for the last time. They all “wine” and “chip” to the music as the Carnival celebrations came to an end.

Seeing mas for the first time was definitely an experience. It has made me more knowledgeable about Carnival celebrations in my country and how bands go about their portrayal. The harmonized feeling you get seeing everyone partying together is definitely a great one. It makes you truly believe that Trinidad and Tobago is filled with love and unity. It is a celebration of artistry, life and color. The experience is a most memorable one and I most certainly intend on seeing mas again and even have hopes of playing mas in the future. It goes to show that T&T is indeed an “Island Paradise.”

One of the bands with their steel orchestra.
One of the bands with their steel orchestra.
Kalicharan's masqueraders making their way to the judging point.
Kalicharan’s masqueraders making their way to the judging point.
One of the sections from Kalicharan's band doing their portrayal of "TSUNAMI"
One of the sections from Kalicharan’s band doing their portrayal of “TSUNAMI”
Masqueraders
Masqueraders

References:

http://www.ncctt.org/new/index.php/carnival-history/history-of-carnival.html

http://www.trinidadexpress.com/featured-news/Lent_begins-117623093.html

http://www.amazing-trinidad-vacations.com/mardi-gras-celebrations.html

T&T- My Island Paradise.

Ribbet collage

Many of you may be wondering why did I choose this as my topic but if you have ever visited Trinidad and Tobago you would most definitely understand why.

My main reason for choosing this topic is mostly because I have never traveled outside of this twin island. I have always wondered what life abroad would be like. The enthusiasm to travel to different places, explore different cultures, and meet new people have most certainly encouraged me to learn about my own country first. I believe that by having an appreciation for my country I would be more open-minded when travelling.

Another reason is that my family is constantly exploring the natural wonders of Trinidad and Tobago. We love visiting places in Trinidad that we have never been to before. My aunt always says that it is a good way for the younger generation to learn about the country and I agree. Trinidad and Tobago has not only the most beautiful beaches but also waterfalls, reefs and ranges. The people are beyond friendly and the food is delicious. The most important season here is definitely Carnival but I have already reserve a special post just for this topic. Have you ever heard the saying, “God is a Trini”? Trinidad and Tobago has been spared the impacts of hurricanes, floodings and serious earthquakes that Trinbagonians, myself included, belief that “God is a Trini.”

My blog will help me to showcase my journeys around Trinidad and Tobago. Exploring my beautiful twin island and discovering new and exciting things. This is where I was born and raised and I am most excited to showcase the natural beauties of my country to you while at the same time gaining knowledge through research and participation in various activities. I do hope that my blog can be a form of motivation for those who inspire to travel to Trinidad and Tobago or even those who want to learn more about their country. Trinidad and Tobago is definitely a paradise, hence the name,  “T&T- My Island Paradise.”

References:

http://www.islandmix.com/backchat/f11/proof-god-trini-lol-84450/

http://www.gotrinidadandtobago.com/

http://www.lonelyplanet.com/trinidad-and-tobago