Scientifically Sweet: The food of Trinidad & Tobago

Friday, April 8, 2011

The food of Trinidad & Tobago

No trip to Trinidad would be complete without hot doubles in the morning. Have you ever heard of a "double". Oh good heaven.

A double consists of two thin rounds of turmeric-spiced fried soft dough (aka barra) topped with curried chick peas (aka channa), sweet mango chutney, green salsa, scotch bonnet pepper sauce and fresh cucumber.

The green salsa is made mainly from shadow benny or chadon beni, which is an herb that tastes very similar to cilantro. It grows like weeds all over the country.

This is what Trinis eat for breakfast. They run for about 50 cents a piece. It is the ultimate street food and must be consumed fresh while standing next to the vendor - this is when it tastes best. You can typically only find vendors out early in the morning or late at night (like after 1 am) when you need a good bite after the bar.

Are you envious? Deep fried dough for breakfast?? Not fair!

This is an aloo pie. It is similar to a double in terms of its fillings, but the piece of fried dough is larger and it is not spiced with turmeric. Instead, a layer of curried potatoes is added before the chickpeas.

Another popular dish is Bake & Shark, or Shark & Bake.

Bake refers to deep fried dough. Wait....didn't I already eat deep fried dough for breakfast? Yup. This dough is different than the one used to make doubles though. It's puffier and lighter, and it's shaped more like a bun rather than a roti skin.

The fried bake is sliced in half and filled with fried shark. Fried, fried, fried....everything is fried. I may have gained 20 lbs over the course of this trip. It was well worth it.

Have you ever tried shark? It's delicious. It actually has a tangy, slightly sour flavour. You can fill your sandwich with all sorts of toppings, including tamarind sauce, shadow benny, pepper sauce, tomatoes, onion, cabbage, lettuce and pineapple. You'll notice pepper sauce goes on almost everything. Trinis like their pepper.

Eating it on the beach makes it taste that much better.

One of my most favourite parts of visiting tropical countries is trying all of the exotic fruits!!

Holy cow. I love fruit. Fruit in the islands tastes so much better than it does here. The pineapple, watermelon, bananas and papaya are out of this world.

The one I'm holding on the right is called balata. Oh gosh. It is so incredibly sweet - it's practically candy. You need to find these and get them in your mouth asap!

I visit the biggest market I can find in every country that I go to. Some people think this is weird....I think it's necessary.

This is another form of "Bake". This is the pan fried version which is also delicious. It is more of a flat bread made from a very heavy yeast dough that is barely kneaded so that it stays soft inside. The dough only rises for about 30 minutes and barely doubles in size, much different from your regular loaf bread or pizza dough.

It is divided into portions, rolled out into circles and fried in a very lightly oiled pan until puffed and charred on the outside.

I could eat a good 13 of these. They're most often made for breakfast and filled like a pita with a delicious and refreshing mixture of salt fish, avocado, cucumber, onions and tomato. SO GOOD.

You can also fill it with smoked herring and sauteed onions. Breakfast of champions.

I hope all of these food photos made you salivate, drool or even just smile a little bit. If only your screen was scratch & sniff, this would be perfect.

I came back from Trinidad & Tobago with loads of inspiration and I hope that you too will have the opportunity to visit this wonderful country one day!
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  1. This is such a cool post! I love learning about food from around the world and this food looks amazing. I have never tried shark but I would like to someday.

  2. Great post! Very interesting to learn about cuisine from the part of the world that I am not familiar with.

  3. What a fantastic post, Christina! Gorgeous photos- all that food looks scrumptious!


  4. So many new foods that I've never heard of!! How wonderful to learn all of this. Everything sounded delicious but then again, there isn't much that I don't love to try! I am a market hound too! Found a great one in Houston this weekend...

  5. OH MY GOODNESS! I visited T&T in 2004... incredible place and yes... fried dough for BREAKFAST (and yummy goat cheese)! Thank you for sharing the beautiful photos and your experience... brought back lots of memories!

    p.s. SHARK IS GOOD! :D

  6. Wait I am a Trini, doubles is not a breakfast food, it's a street food for us Trinis.. so let me explain.... it's like you guys eating/buying hotdogs.

    A true trini breakfast is curry tomatoes with okra.. and yes roit skin.. Another is Buljol, o.k what is this: Made from cod fish, with onions, fresh hot peppers, fresh garlic, fresh thyme, fresh tomatoes (never can stuff) and olive oil. Now we use salt fish but you can use plain cod fish to reduce the salt for health reasons e.g Blood Pressure. It's eaten with fry bake and avocado.

    1. I grew up in Trinidad and we bought this for breakfast on a Saturday morning for breakfast and also during the week before going to work. Why else would the doubles vendors be out that early in the morning if not to serve breakfast.

  7. I am trini, doubles is also a breakfast meal.

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