I recently took a vacation to my birthplace Trinidad and Tobago for a family reunion. I enjoyed relaxing on the beach, eating good food and catching up with family and old friends. When we take vacation on an island we indulge on umbrella cocktails, dig our feet in the sandy white beaches and eat as much food as we can cooked with love by the locals. A visit to Trinidad & Tobago today would reveal a multicultural melting pot stirred by the descendants of settlers from Europe, Asia, Africa, South America and the Middle East.
On August 1, 1976, Trinidad and Tobago became a republic remaining within commonwealth. The sister islands lay north of South America lying off the coast of Venezuela and south of Grenada. T&T is known for its Carnival and is the birthplace of the steelpan, limbo and the music styles of calypso, soca and chutney. T&T is also the richest island in the Caribbean because they produce their own oil. You can fill your tank for an average of 1.10 US a gallon.It's safe to say that when visiting the island you will party, dine and even drive like a local. Trinidad & Tobago's famously known foods are Creole foods such a pelau, macaroni pie and callaoo and East Indian foods which consist of roti and doubles. Pictured above is my aunt's homemade Pelau and roti dish. Pelau is a rice dish that contains pigeon peas and added meat such as chicken, beef or pig tail. Then you have everyone's famous island seasoning, curry. In T&T people eat their curry with a flat bread called Roti. There are different kinds of roti. For starters the most consumed are Dhal Puri, a hefty flour wrap filled with ground split peas, or Bus Up Shot which received it's name from its texture, appearence and similarity to a torn (burst) t-shirt. Leave it up to a Trini to come up with a name like that. The roti is then filled with your choice of curried vegetables and/or meat. I prefer to eat my Roti with goat because the flavors of the curry blend in nicely with the meat.
When you travel on foot you will notice many vendors that sell food, candy, live crabs, coconut water and clothes. One of the famous foods to eat while touring the sister islands are Doubles. It is usually eaten as a breakfast dish or snack. Doubles consist of two flat breads topped with chick peas, mango, tamarind sauce, cucumber and pepper sauce if you can take the heat. Doubles to T&T is like Chickfila of the south.
Here is one of the dishes I had for breakfast. Macaroni pie is like macaroni and cheese except it is baked in the oven with herbs and stewed meat.
Traveling far from home can make you a little homesick. If you are craving a fast food restaurant back in the States and you want something that will satisfy your taste buds there is the world's famous KFC. You may be asking why would you travel overseas to eat KFC, but believe me when I tell you when you eat at this fast food chain on the island you will never want to eat American KFC again. The island of Trinidad and Tobago sells the most KFC in the world. Why? Because of the spices and crispness of the chicken. There is a burst of bold flavors and zest in every bite. Even my cousin who visited from London said he would never eat at a KFC in the U.K. again, but don't fool yourself into thinking you can go to any island and get the same experience. I've visited other islands and there is no comparison. Its just that good. Oh, ans did I mention they deliver?
Trinidad is filled with markets that sell fresh produce. My favorite is located in Arima where my parents grew up called, Arima Market. Here you will find all the exotic fruits and vegetables you need and you can have yourself a coconut water while shopping. Popular fruits are chennet, a red fruit that looks like an Apple and very white on the inside called Pommerac, coconut and tamarind just to name a few. If you are staying on the island of Trinidad and looking for a formal dining experience I recommend dining at the Hyatt Hotel in Port of Spain. It consists of three restaurants and two bars. Waterfront Restaurant is where you will indulge in modern island cuisine, fresh seafood mouthwatering steaks and a bounty of delicious tropical fare with a relaxing view of the gulf. Additionally you have Sushi Bar and Cinnamon where you can treat yourself to delicious gourmet coffee and delectable baked goods.
Nylon Pool at Pigeon Point
You can't take vacation to an island without going to the beach. Perhaps that may be all you see from where you are staying. The famous beach of Tobago is Pigeon Point. If you are staying on the island of Trinidad you will take a ferry, that cost no more that 25.00 US which is a two hour boat ride to Tobago. During my trip I went on a glass bottom boat to the Bucco Reefs, scuba-dived and swam in the nylon pool. In Trinidad the most famous beach is Maracas Beach. The water may not be as nice and clear as Pigeon Point, but no trip to Maracas is complete without a taste of Bake' N Shark at Richards Bake 'N Shark stand. Seasoned and deep fried fillets of shark are stuffed in fried battered bread and topped with cabbage, lettuce, onions and home made pepper sauce.
Bake 'N Shark
There is soo much to explore on the sister islands and they both have different things to offer. Tobago gives you beautiful sites and laid back atmosphere, mostly catered to tourist, while Trinidad brings you nightlife, great food and beautiful shopping malls. Trinidad and Tobago host annual festivals such as Carnival in February, food festivals in the months of March, October and November as well as crab races.
I hope to see you on the beautiful islands of Trinidad and Tobago soon.
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