What to eat in Trinidad and Tobago
As I sit here blogging about what to eat in Trinidad and Tobago I cannot help but drool. Growing up in the Caribbean had its perks, a loving family, tropical weather all the time, and the food. I promise you, you haven’t eaten until you’ve tried Trini Food. Trini food is difficult to describe since its such an eclectic mix of influences. I would say the food adequately describes the multifaceted people of T&T spanning from the early inhabitants.
What Food To Eat in Trinidad and Tobago
Doubles claims its spot as number one on the list of Trini food to try. There is no way you can visit Trinidad & Tobago without eating doubles. It is perfect for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Doubles is a sandwich consisting of fried bread ‘baras’ filled with curried chickpeas, and topped with items such as chutney, hot sauce or cucumbers. When ordering your doubles, you’ll likely be asked if you want them no pepper, slight, or heavy, a.k.a., do you want it mild, medium or hot (I don’t recommend hot unless you like spicy food).
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Okay, I know I know – why is KFC on this list? Who goes to a tropical island and gets cuisine from an international chain? You don’t understand KFC in Trinidad is the best I’ve ever had.. Why in the hell would you go to a tropical island, to experience new cultures and cuisine and eat at a chain? I get it, but you really do not understand when I say KFC in Trinidad is completely different from any other.
My first stop upon arrival at Piarco International Airport is the airport KFC for a Cruncher Sandwich. I don’t know if it’s the spices or fresher meat, but KFC in T&T is a must. Trust a local and buy the KFC, you won’t regret it. P.S. while I’m on the topic of chain restaurants, don’t forget to visit Pizza Hut, which is also much better in T&T.
Bake and Shark
Ever seen Andrew Zimmerman’s Bizzare Foods Special in T&T? He made sure to visit the famous Richard’s at Maracas Beach. My recommendation? Check out any of the other shops right next to Richard’s. They’re all equally as good, but a shorter line!
Bake is a ‘trini speak‘ for fried bread, and the bake is filled with a friend shark filet. No bake and shark sandwich is complete without a multitude of toppings. I personally enjoy ketchup, mustard, pepper sauce, bandania, garlic sauce, tomatoes, cucumbers and cole slaw on mine but it’s up to you.
Pelau is a typical Trini “crock pot” dish. Rice filled with meat, seasoning, peas and carrots, and other vegetables. Don’t be surprised if you head to Maracas beach and see some locals eating pelau, or even doing their own cookout at the beach! It’s quite common.
Whenever I venture home, I always try to get some BBQ before I leave. The BBQ is very different from your traditional backyard BBQ. No hot dogs and burgers to be found here, instead you’ll order a box of BBQ Chicken or Lamb along with french fries and garlic bread. Don’t forget the garlic sauce and hot sauce for your french fries! My favorite BBQ Spot is Original Bar-B-Que Hut.
If you find yourself lucky enough to attend a local wedding, buckle in for some Wedding Food. Roti, channa and aloo, curry mango, curry meats(chicken/goat/duck/lamb), salad, dhal and rice to name a few. Roti is essentially an Indian style flatbread and can come in many varieties, my favorite is dhalpouri roti which is roti filled with crushed split peas. Channa and Aloo is essentially curried garbanzo beans/chick peas and chunks of potatoes – very similar to a channa masala if you’re familiar with Indian food. Curry mango is exactly what it sound like, mango in a curry sauce – it has more of a sweet taste and is an excellent side for roti and channa and aloo. Lastly, dhal and rice is something I grew up eating as an everyday food but is often found at “wedding feasts.” It’s essentially rice, with a split pea sauce layered on top. If you attend a very traditional wedding, you may even have your food served on a large leaf as opposed to a plate. When it comes to the rice, try and eat local! The “Island Grain” brand does it all from planting to packaging and selling!
Pastelles is a dish you typically find around Christmastime and represents the Spanish influence in Trinidad. Often cooked in a banana leaf, the cornmeal pie is filled with meat and various toppings. Then it is rolled up in the banana leaf and boiled/steamed until ready. My grandmother typically fills her pastelles with seasoned beef, capers, olives, peppers and potatoes, though you can have different meats and toppings.
Plantains is perhaps one of my favorite breakfast foods growing up as a kid. My grandmother would cut a plantain in half and give it a quick fry in the pan. A very simple and easy breakfast meal I loved to eat before going to school.
Another favorite breakfast food of mine is arepas. Essentially a sandwich made from ground corn meal, and fried in a pan. Some people eat it with butter and cheese, or avocado but my favorite filling is fried tuna, tomatoes and onions.
Another traditional Spanish dish found in Trinidad are Cachapas. These are delicious corn pancakes essentially but sweeter. No maple syrup needed, jut a little butter and cheese!
What to eat in Trinidad and Tobago for Snacking
Chow is a fruit mix, often seasoned with salt, pepper, garlic, hot sauce, and seasonings. I know it sounds odd, spicy fruits?! Trust me, its absolutely delicious. My favorite types of chow are pineapple chow, mango chow, plum chow and cucumber chow.
I think you’ll find quickly a lot of Trini food is fried and aloo pie is no different. The dough is fried and then filled with seasoned, mashed up aloo (our term for potato). I recommend adding some slight pepper to it!
There is nothing better than getting some homemade pholourie from your aunt or the woman down the street that sells them. They are seasoned fried dough balls served with chutney.
What Fruits to eat in Trinidad and Tobago
When I first moved to the states, and my mom told me she bought some plums from the store I was extremely disappointed when she handed me a massive purple ball. This was not the type of plum I was used to. The plums in Trinidad are often small, green and olive-sized. Heck they even look like an olive. When they’re green they sour, (which I find makes for a great plum chow), but turn yellow once ripe. There’s also another type of plum called a Governor plum. We had this tree growing up at home, and it is a bit larger than the green plums and turns red when ripe.
A Pomerac (also known as a Malay Apple) is a pear-shaped type of apple and is pink on the outside with a spongy white inside surrounding a large pit. It is very sweet and juicy and is only in season a few times a year.
The best part of drinking coconut water fresh from the coconut is cutting it open afterwards and eating the meat, or the jelly as trinis call it. The best jelly is a thick and soft.
Another fruit that is completely different between Trinidad and the United States are the cherries. Cherries in Trinidad are much smaller and much sweeter.
Chennettes (known as Quenapas). In order to eat these, you need to crack the green outer layer skin, which most people use their teeth to bite them open. Then after discarding the skin you eat the pink, sweet meat around the seed. Be careful though, it gets quite sticky and they can stain your clothing!
What to Drink in Trinidad and Tobago
I feel like this just goes without saying, when in the Caribbean you need to have coconut water fresh out of a coconut. There are tons of shops and grocery stores that sell bottled coconut water. While it’s not the same as drinking it fresh out of a coconut it’s still far better than the terrible imitation coconut water you find in the States.
First off, there’s only one brand of peanut punch to drink and it’s Ramsaran’s. Peanut punch is literally peanut butter, milk and sugar. It’s not thick like a milkshake, but not smooth like water, somewhere in the middle and tastes amazing.
Mauby is quite popular in the Caribbean and Trinidad is no exception. I don’t really know how to describe the drink other than to say it starts tasting sweet and then ends a little bitter. I believe you can purchase the drink pre-made but growing up we had the syrup that you would mix with water and tada you had Mauby.
I spent my whole childhood drinking malta. It’s a soft drink of sorts, made from wheat and hops.
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