Trinidad and Tobago cuisine is varied if it is anything. Numerous cultures
make up the social fabric of this small, Caribbean
nation, and much like the culture, the dining scene here blends influences from
Amerindians, Europeans, Africans, Indians, and the Chinese. Creole and Lebanese
influences are prevalent as well when it comes to the food of Trinidad and Tobago,
so you’ll virtually be treated to a world tour in cuisine when dining here.
There are upscale restaurants in Trinidad and Tobago, and there are simple establishments
where you can grab something fast and for pay less for it. You might even see
what local vendors are selling when you get hungry or are in need of a refreshment.
Remember to stick with the vendors who are wearing valid food badges, just to
be on the safe side. Also be aware of freshness and the overall standards when
visiting the restaurants of Trinidad and Tobago.
There are too many good restaurants in Trinidad and Tobago to settle for something
Being that the food of Trinidad and Tobago is so multi-ethnic, you will notice tendencies that are inspired by certain cultures. One of the country’s Creole dishes bears similarity to a Spanish paella, and some of the country’s preferred desserts owe their influence to India, for example. Pelau is the rice-based dish that is akin to paella, and in addition to rice, it features peas and meat, with pork, beef, and chicken being the most commonly used meats. As for Indian desserts, you might try some gulab jamun. Galub jamun is made of dough balls that consist mostly of milk solids, cream, and flour. These doughy spheres are cooked in a sugar syrup, and saffron, cardamom seeds, and rosewater are often used to add flavor. When it comes to the Creole food of Trinidad and Tobago, chicken and red beans is a main staple. Callaloo and macaroni pie are other Creole favorites, the former being an okra based dish, while the latter is mostly comprised of, well, macaroni. Callaloo is usually made with okra, chili peppers, coconut milk, crab, and sometimes various meats. Garlic and chopped onions are usually added, and the mix is simmered until it basically becomes a soup or stew. Interestingly enough, callaloo is often served with a macaroni pie, which is essentially baked macaroni with cheese and eggs mixed in. Different ingredients can be added, so macaroni pies tend to vary a bit depending on personal recipes.
As one might expect in an island nation, seafood dominates Trinidad and Tobago cuisine. Lobster, king fish, crab, and even shark are often on the menu. When seeing what Trinidad food has to offer, seafood lovers will want to try bake and shark at some point. Maracas Bay is one of the best places to try bake and shark, which is fast becoming a sensation when it comes to unique Trinidad food. A bake and shark is essentially a sandwich that is comprised of deep fried shark pieces, fried dough bread, and a list of possible condiments, such as pineapple, oyster sauce, ketchup, and pepper sauce. Speaking of pepper sauce, it is also a favorite when it comes to Trinidad food. Pepper sauce is pretty much what it sounds like, and since it is a sauce that is made from peppers, you can bet that it is often quite spicy. Other signature dishes in Trinidad include souse, which is a dish featuring boiled chicken feet or pig trotter, and fruit chows, which are a staple that consists of fruit that is chopped and mixed with salt, pepper, lime juice, cilantro, and sometimes even garlic. After boiling the meat for souse, which is served cold, a briny sauce is added, as are hints of lime, pepper, cucumber, and onion.
The cuisine of Tobago mimics the cuisine of Trinidad, for the most part, and
at the resorts on Tobago’s
southern end, you can enjoy fresh, inspired menu creations from talented chefs.
You’ll find an array of restaurants at the Tobago resorts that specialize in
both international cuisine and Trinidad and Tobago cuisine. The capital of Scarborough
is not far from the island’s resorts, and you will find a good concentration
of restaurants there as well. Curried crab is a top dish on the island of Tobago,
and if you like crab, then you’ll also want to try some dumplings that are made
with crab. These Tobago crab dumplings are simmered in a rich coconut sauce,
and they are as delicious as they sound. As for coconuts, when it comes to a
national drink, one could effectively nominate coconut water, which is found
throughout the country. When visiting the Queen’s Park Savannah in Port
of Spain, you will most certainly see vendors selling coconut water, so
you might try it there when exploring the country’s capital. As for alcohol-based
drinks, rum steals the show in Trinidad and Tobago. Rum shops abound in the
country, so you can always stop by one to enjoy a break.
A cuisine that is as varied as that which is found in Trinidad and Tobago is hard to summarize. Suffice it to say that you taste buds will be in for a range of delectable experiences. Whether you are visiting one of the restaurants in Trinidad and Tobago or are just grabbing something quick from a shop or vendor, don’t be afraid to try something new!