We came, we saw and we ate everything in sight! Trinidad is hands down a foodie’s paradise and you’re guaranteed to leave with a little more to love on than when you arrived. You can find something for every palate, from the meat lovers to the vegetarians!
Even though I didn’t have as much time as I liked to eat as much as I wanted to, I was able to get in the staples while on a recent trip. If you ever find yourself in this part of the Caribbean, here are a few suggestions on what you should chow down on.
- Doubles – A vegetarian-friendly option, this popular dish can be consumed in 10 seconds flat! I promise you, it’s that good. As with a lot of Trini favourites, doubles is a handheld treat, made with channa, aka curried chickpeas, smashed between two pieces of fried flatbread called bara and topped off with a herb that pretty much is a condiment for almost every dish in Trini, shado(w) beni, a herb native to the West Indies & Central America. I think I probably put down 2-3 of these a serving! You can find this staple at pretty much anywhere, on the side of the street, at the Savannah, anywhere.
- Bake N’ Shark – The first time I ever dined on ‘shark’ was in Trinidad. I was apprehensive, but I was also a bit tipsy at a breakfast fete, so that made the experience less harrowing. First, of all it is really shark and sorry to disappoint, it tastes like fish. It’s not one of my favourite dishes (I’m probably dressing it wrong), but other people seem to love it. It’s a fish sandwich essentially – the fried shark fillet is stuffed between the ‘bake’, fried bread and the magic happens when you pile on the condiments. There is literally a buffet of dressings available to elevate your bake n’ shark. There’s garlic sauce, shado beni, tamarind sauce, pepper sauce, lettuce and a ton more. It’s quite intimidating if you don’t know what you’re doing. *Raises hands* The best place to get Bake N’ Shark is at the famous Maracas Beach.
- Buss-Up-Shut – There’s no competition, hands down my must have Trini dish. It’s messy, tasty, and so so good! Yet another meal best eaten with your hands, buss-up-shot roti, which gained its name from a torn shirt, “buss up shirt” is a one part yummy thin, buttery busted up roti, another part delicious chicken, beef, goat curry or channa & potatoes for the vegetarians. My favourite part of this dish is being able to pull apart the roti then dip it in the curry and then mango or tamarind sauce. It absorbs the flavours that melt in your mouth. I had the BEST buss-up-shot with goat and mango chutney from a local favourite, Dopson’s Roti Shop in Port-of-Spain.
- Dhalpuri – There are two main types of roti in Trinidad, buss-up-shut and dhalpuri. Dhalpuri is simply what I call the “regular” roti, it’s a heavier roti made with ground split pea filling. You stuff whatever you want inside, chicken, goat, beef, potatoes, chutney, the choice is all yours. It’s definitely a cleaner alternative to a buss-up-shut. You can find roti shops and street vendors just about everywhere. We ate a good roti from a street vendor in St. James.
- Corn Soup – A hearty warm bowl of corn soup is always good for the soul, or more specifically good for the soul after a good fete. Usually, an afterparty dish, (I can eat it all day), this delicious rich & creamy comfort food is made out of, you name it, corn, alongside split peas and dumplings and seasonings. There are many variations to the dish, but the main ingredients are always the same. I’ve still never found a corn soup that rivals my friend’s mother’s recipe. Absolutely delish!
- Pholourie – If you’re looking for a quick snack, grab pholourie, a savoury seasoned fried dough. It’s crispy on the outside but light and fluffy on the inside. In order to really appreciate this simple street food, you have to dip it in something, I recommend a tamarind or mango chutney or garlic sauce.
Like I said, an absolute foodie paradise. Trinidad is a melting pot of exotic flavours, while my list covers the absolute musts there are a lot of other Trini staples. There’s callaloo soup, aloo pie, pelau, chows and a smorgasbord of preserved fruits and delicious snacks. Also, if you’re a lover of pepper and seasonings this is the best place to stock up on your peppers sauces, and chutneys.