Foodies will find their visit to Trinidad and Tobago simply exciting and worthwhile because of the varied rich culinary traditions in this famous Caribbean destination. A plethora of cuisines will surprise you and make you spoilt for choices. Whether you want to relish the traditional delicacies in family-run eateries, trendy cafes or go in for upscale fine dining, you are sure to be overwhelmed with umpteen choices.
The rich cultural heritage of Trinidad and Tobago will prompt you to explore its culinary traditions and history. This Caribbean island nation has witnessed different phases of history while being under colonial rules of the British, French and Spanish. The colonizers also greatly influenced the country’s culinary traditions. Apart from these colonizers, diverse influences are also found with the presence of Amerindians, Chinese, Indians, Africans, Portuguese and the people from the Middle East. The cuisines found in Trinidad and Tobago today are a true reflection on the island’s multicultural society.
Here is an outlook of the kind of influences that people of different cultural backgrounds had on the food in the region.
The African slaves brought along with them one-pot comfort foods and robust stews. These foods have over the years greatly transformed and refined thus giving birth to the signature Trinidad dishes such as callaloo and pelau, macaroni pie. The great favorites among the Creole food are the red beans and chicken most relished by the people here. At the core of the Creole food are delicious and hearty soups. The scrumptious cowheel soup, beef soup and oxtail soup are among the great favorites with the people here. These soups are particularly enjoyed with chunks of meat that are ready to instantly melt in your mouth.
Whether it’s Port of Spain, the capital city of Trinidad and Tobago, or small towns in the Caribbean Island nation, Chinese restaurants can be found everywhere. You will discover three to four Chinese restaurants in some of the busy streets in the city. Most of these restaurants serve Cantonese dishes, with local ingredients and spices added for distinctive flavor. The most popular dish served in most Chinese restaurants is the ‘dasheen pork’. This Chinese-inspired delicacy finds its origin in Trinidad.
East Indian Food
The people of Trinidad and Tobago love spiced food, particularly curries. The East Indian food is curried and any type of meat, especially duck, goat and chicken, just goes with it, similar to Creole stews. Trinidadians, particularly of East Indian descent, feast on curried duck. Cooking curried duck is a special community and social event, which takes place on a riverbank. The cooking is done in iron pots over open flame.
East Indian food is particularly eaten in south Trinidad, where there is a large concentration of people of Indian descent. The popular East Indian food includes roti, doubles, dosti, dhalpourie, paratha, aloopurie, spicy channa and chokhas.
South Trinidad’s popular town Penal is famous for its umpteen shops selling Indian sweets and delicacies. The street vendors can be seen selling gulab jamoon, barfi, pholourie and aloo pies.
The Caribbean food has gained immense popularity worldwide and is growing by the day. Even the local, traditional and grassroots dishes are now prepared gourmet-style. Many international cuisines can be had in the casual dining restaurants here. Steakhouses are also gaining popularity. A wide range of fine dining restaurants can be seen offering Thai, Spanish, Japanese, Indian, Italian and French food. Most of these restaurants offering gourmet cuisines are located in the capital city of Port of Spain, particularly on Ariapita Avenue, St Clair, Woodbrook and also around Queen’s Park Savannah.
Trinidad and Tobago are also renowned for entertaining the visitors with unusual cuisines. Bake and shark are among the popular unusual delicacies served in the country. You will surely enjoy eating deep-fried pieces of shark provided in two slices of fried bake in the form of a sandwich. The toppings on the shark sandwich include pepper sauce, oyster sauce, garlic sauce, tamarind sauce, tartar sauce, mustard, ketchup, pineapple and cucumbers or tomatoes. The toppings however depend on your choice.
Whatever you might choose to eat in Trinidad and Tobago, be prepared to expect something spicy. You will be surprised that pepper sauce is offered almost with every meal. If you are not in the habit of eating spicy food, being cautious is always a safe bet. Before ordering your meal you must always ask how hot the sauce would be, and get ready to be served accordingly.
Among other unusual cuisines here include fruit chows, usually made of seasonal fruits such as pineapple, plums and mango. Souse is another unusual delicacy made with boiled chicken feet or pig trotters served cold in salty brine seasoned with onion slices, pepper, cucumber and lime.