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 🙂

Toco Trinidad

One of my dearest childhood memories is visiting the fishing village of Toco with my father. My father, who enjoys fishing, would go here almost three times a week and would always carry my mother and I with him on his little adventure. Trust me, coming from Rio Claro to Toco is not an easy drive. It takes us approximately three to four hours leaving the southeastern part of Trinidad to arrive to Toco which is located on the northeastern end. It is not as populated as other parts of the island namely Maracas and Las Cuevas but it contains the most scenic landscape ever.

When visiting Toco going to the lighthouse is a must. It was announced that the lighthouse would be renamed to the Keshorn Walcott Lighthouse in honor of him since he was able to capture a gold medal at the 2012 Olympics. Since he is from this rural community and was the first person to capture the gold medal in the field of javelin I found it fit that the lighthouse be renamed after him However, upon my visit I noticed that the sign still says the Galera Point (Toco) Lighthouse three years after.

At the lighthouse, you can stand on the rocks and view the ocean. At nights you can even see the lights of our sister isle Tobago as Toco is the closest point to the island.  This is not the only view. There are a number of other “look out” points on the way to Toco. There is also the dangerous “Headless Beach.” The water here always looks rough. I even heard myths from my dad and his friends that anyone who dears to bathe here will drown and their body will surface headless, hence the name. Somehow I do not believe this is the proper name for the beach. Maybe my dad just trolled me as a kid as my research for the “Headless Beach” turned futile.

At nineteen years old I no longer visit Toco as often. Time is such a major issue now that my family and I don’t always get to do the activities that we once enjoyed. Recently however, we decided to take a drive to Toco. It was like a trip down memory lane. Below I have included some of my pictures so I can share my experience with you.

Just a few of my family members

 

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

J’ouvert Morning

In my last blog entry I mentioned that I have reserved a special post just for Carnival but after long deliberation I have decided that this deserves not one but two blog entries as I am most eager to write and share my experiences playing J’ouvert and seeing Mas for the first time. Today I have chosen to share my first ever J’ouvert experience with you.

As we all know, Carnival is one of the main events in Trinidad and Tobago and it was recently celebrated. It has played a major part in shaping our culture. It has helped to develop tourism as visitors from all around the world come to our shores to be a part of this spectacular event. Out of curiosity I decided to take part in J’ouvert.

What I learnt is that J’ouvert is a french word which means dawn/day break and is an important aspect to our Carnival as it marks the start of the two days parade. This event takes place in the streets on Carnival Monday from as early as 2 o’ clock until the sun rises.

My friends and I got up at around four a.m and headed to Rio Claro, our hometown. As we made our way to the town we could hear the sweet sound of soca music. There were lots of trucks with D.Js. The bands on J’ouvert morning mainly consisted of ole mas portraying jab- jab, mud mas or images of individuals. At J’ouvert you would definitely understand what is meant by “Who playing mas, cant be afraid of powder.” There were lots of powder being sprayed around, even mud, paint, and yes, chocolate. The use of alcohol seemed to be a must. Most of the people taking part appeared to be highly intoxicated. However, I must commend the protective services, for being on high alert and for ensuring that things were under control at all times.

At this time one can scarcely resist “wining” and “chipping” to the sounds of the music. I myself, seemed very involved for a first timer. It was nice seeing locals and foreigners dancing and partying together. It was as though everyone was stressed free with no worries in the world. I liked the fact that everyone could be at harmony. People were painting each other, dancing together and chanting along to songs of Machel Montano, Patrice Roberts and Bunji Garlin, just to name a few of the popular soca singers in Trinidad and Tobago.

They say, time passes by when you are having fun and it definitely did on J’ouvert morning. Before I knew it the sun was up and at promptly 10 o’ clock they announced that J’ouvert was over but trust me, this wasn’t the case. As people left the streets they flocked to bars and beaches. This was the start of Carnival. Two days of enjoyment and entertainment followed. Two days to forget all your worries and be part of an experience of a lifetime. This was my first but definitely not my last.  It marked the start of “The greatest show on Earth” taking place in the home of Carnival, Trinidad and Tobago.

A picture of me before J'ouvert and after.
A picture of me before J’ouvert and after.
My mother and I at J'ouvert.
My mother and I at J’ouvert.
The police on high alert.
The police on high alert.

References:

http://www.tntisland.com/jouvert.html

http://www.discovertnt.com/articles/Trinidad/The-Birth-Evolution-of-Trinidad-Carnival/109/3/32#axzz3Tq06SYG1

http://www.amazing-trinidad-vacations.com/jouvert.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