Food and Drink

What foods and drinks should students on a budget try when in Trinbago?(click to tweet) As a culturally rich country, T&T has an abundance of flavourful foods and drinks at economical prices for student visitors! Below I have categorized some of my top food and drink recommendations; prices range from ~$1US to $15US. Enjoy!

SAVORY FOODS

Pholourie, Trinidad, Tobago, West Indian

Pholourie

Pholourie

An  Indo-Trinidadian snack food that consists of fried dough, which is made of flour, split peas, saffron, turmeric, and other indo-spices. It is best enjoyed when accompanied with some spicy mango chutney sauce. Where to find it: Debe (Trinidad) is the best place to go, but it also can be found in any nearby curry-shop, or even around the Queen’s Park Savannah.

 

Corn Soup, Trinidad

Corn Soup Trinibago Style

Corn Soup

A delectable medley of sliced cobs of corn, carrots, special local seasonings, and cassava or flour dumplings! Where to find it: Maracas Bay Look-Out (Trinidad), on evenings at the Queen’s Park Savannah (Trinidad), and Store Bay (Tobago).

 

Curry Crab and Dumplings, Trinidad, Food

Curry Crab and Dumplin’

Curry Crab and Dumplin’

Succulent crabs cooked in Indo-Trinbagonian styled curry and served with cassava or flour dumplings. While a bit tedious to eat (since you have to crack open the crab), it is quite a satisfying dish! Where to find it: The Breakfast Shed (Trinidad), and Store Bay (Tobago).

 

SWEET FOODS

Tamarind, Trinidad, Tamarind Balls

L to R: a tamarind ball, unshelled tamarind, a tamarind pod.

Tamarind Balls

A mouth-watering combination of local tamarind pulp(bitter by itself), brown and white sugar, and sometimes pepper. Though very sweet, this local snack is quite addictive and is loved by locals and foreigners alike. Where to find it: Food Stands at Port of Spain lookout, Maracas Bay lookout, and any place that sells preservatives.

 

Chow, Pineapple, Trinidad, Food

Pineapple Chow

Pineapple Chow

Slices of juicy pineapple marinated in chadon beni, salt, pepper (optional), garlic, and lime. The taste can be described as sweet and salty, depending on how ripe the pineapple is. Where to find it: The same places or vendors that sell tamarind balls and other popular preservatives.

 

Guava Cheese, Trinidad, Tobago, Food

Guava Cheese

Guava Cheese

A saccharine delight made of guava pulp, water, sugar, and sometimes lime or lemon juice. Where to find it: UpMarket (Trinidad), Peppercorns, and certain local groceries. *Sometimes hard to find.

 

 

DRINKS

Soursop, Trinidad, Drinks

The Soursop Fruit

Punch

Usually made by blending milk, ice, fruit, and sugar, this sweet drink is out of this world! Flavours to sample include: Seamoss, Barbadine, and Soursop (all locally grown). Where to find it: Tragarete Road in Woodbrook, parlours in Blanchisseuse (some of the better ones I’ve had), or on evenings in The Queen’s Park Savannah.

 

Sorrel being made

Sorrel

Popular around Christmas, this drink is made with the red flowers of the Roselle plant (locally called Sorrel), which are combined with water, cinnamon, whole cloves, and brown sugar. Where to find it: restaurants and drink shops in December when it’s in season (normally made by households).

 

coconut, trinidad

A vendor chopping open a coconut

Coconut Water

Best served straight from a chilled coconut, this drink is most enjoyable on a sunny day to quench your thirst. Where to get it: For Fresh Coconuts – Vendors around the Queen’s Park Savannah or at Maracas Bay (bonus: vendors cut-open the coconuts so you can eat the jelly). For Bottled Coconut water: any supermarket.

 

Ponche de creme, Trinidad, Drinks

Ponche De Crème

Ponche De Crème

A popular rich concoction made during the Christmas season. Ponche De Crème consists of eggs, lime zest, condensed milk, evaporated milk, rum, bitters, and nutmeg. Where to get it: Like Sorrel, it is usually made by families, but can be sourced at restaurants.

 

Interested in finding our more about Trinbagonian and Caribbean cuisine?
Tamara of Gem’s Living shares wonderful recipes that allow you to get a closer look at island food. Also, the TriniChow blog provides excellent reviews of local eateries’ cuisine.

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Eco-Related Activities

To get you acquainted with the natural landscape of the islands, here’s a video of the northern and eastern coasts of Trinidad. This amateur clip shows off the island’s lush green rural land and lovely beaches, and it features the soothing music of local artist, Mungal Patasar.

The North and East coasts of Trinidad are popular areas for eco-related activities and are not too far from the capital city, Port of Spain.

Though not developed to its full eco-tourism potential, T&T offers quite an array of nature-related activities.

My Top Eco-Related Picks:

1.       Hike to Three-Pools

Blanchisseuse Forest

Many enjoyable summers during my teenagers years were spent exploring the rural area of Blanchisseuse with my family. Located on the North Coast of Trinidad, Blanchisseuse’s forest hosts a number of hiking trails, including my favourite, Three Pools. As its name suggests, this trail involves hiking along a path that has three “pools” or basins of water, with the final leading to an enchanting waterfall, which you can swim in. The trail is known to be relatively easy and is usually an all-day affair; however, a tour guide is required to navigate the hike. While hiking through the dense forest, you also get an opportunity to view the tropical wildlife and vegetation. This economical trek (<$10US) is a great bonding experience for both family and friends.

2.       Beaches:

Trinidad – Surf’s Inn Bay

Surf's Inn Bay, Trinidad, Surf

Surf’s Inn Bay

In terms of relaxation, my favourite spot is of course in Blanchisseuse. Many people favour Maracas Bay, but to me it can’t compete with Surf’s Inn Bay. Sure you get tasty food and attractive scenery in Maracas Bay, but Blanchisseuse offers cleaner, clearer waters and less crowded but equally beautiful surroundings. Since Maracas is on the way to Blanchisseuse, I often stop there to pick up some food and then head straight to Surf’s Inn Bay for some peaceful leisure time (especially after a night of partying). The quaint beach is frequented by a few surfers and is somewhat secluded (except for the private beach houses). During low tide, on the right side of the beach, by the rocks, you can explore the natural rock-reef pockets filled with water that are home to many small sea-creatures like hermit crabs, sea urchins, lobsters, fish, and the like.

Tobago – Pigeon Point

Tobago, Pigeon Point

Pigeon Point

Generally noted for having more picturesque beaches than Trinidad, Tobago is home to a number of sublime beaches. Located close to the south-western tip of the island is Pigeon Point, my preferred beach. Known as one of the more popular beaches on the island, this spot has a seemingly endless sprawl of white sandy shorelines and aquamarine coloured waters. Even though it’s the only beach in the country with an entry cost (~$3US), Pigeon Point has well-developed facilities, and it offers several activities for tourists and locals alike. Besides basking in the seductive sun, you can wind surf, play volley ball, snorkel (my favourite activity), build sand castles, listen to live entertainment, have your hair braided, and enjoy local cuisine, among other things.

3.       Buccoo Reef Tour

Buccoo Reef, Tobago,

Buccoo Reef

Located in Tobago, Buccoo Reef is rated by infamous oceanographer Jacques Cousteau as the third most spectacular reef in the world. Tobago’s largest reef is home to an abundance of tropical marine species. Each time I’ve visited the magnificent reef, I took a fantastic glass-bottom boat tour. This tour allows you to not only view the thriving and colourful wildlife that live in the coral beds through the transparent bottom of the boat, but also to snorkel and get an up-close look at the reef. Additionally, the boat ride makes a stop at the Nylon Pool, which is known for its white coral sand and shallow light blue-green waters, where you can snorkel and swim. Normally the tour returns in the evening, giving you a chance to experience a breathtaking sunset at sea.

Popular picks from others (on my to-do list):

  1. Hike to Paria
  2. Turtle Watching
  3. Gasparee Caves

Check out Limin’n’Stylin’ Caribbean Style for additional eco-related activities, plus more!

Overview of Trinidad and Tobago’s History

The present-day diverse culture and population of the islands is best understood with knowledge of the country’s historical background.

Map of Caribbean Region

Map of Caribbean Region

Originally, Amerindian settlers (Arawak and Carib tribes) from South America inhabited the two islands. Colonisation ensued following Christopher Columbus’ discovery of the lands in 1498; the local tribes were enslaved by the Spanish, however, the horrible conditions they were subjected to resulted in a near genocide of the indigenous population. Few descendants of the tribes remain today (mostly Carib) and even fewer of their cultural elements prevail (with the exception of place names).

Subsequent to the Spanish’s conquest, multiple changing of “hands” occurred with the various colonial powers over the years. While the British were the last to rule, the Dutch, Courlanders, French, and Spanish colonial powers still had a significant impact on the local culture, which is reflected in place names, foods and dishes, language, and local customs today.

During colonisation, West African tribes were enslaved and brought to the islands to work on plantations under the rule of the prevailing colonial masters. The slaves were separated and not permitted to practice their native cultures; they had to adopt that of their masters (Christianization of the slaves) or risk being severely punished or even killed. As a result not many African cultural traditions survive today, though there have been recent efforts to revive them.

Indian Indentured Labourers on the Plantations

Following the emancipation of the slaves in 1834, indentured labourers from India (largest of the group), Madeira, and China were brought to supplement the shortage of labour on the plantations. They were allowed to keep and practice openly their cultural traditions under this new free system.

Later, migrants from other Caribbean islands, Venezuela, Syria, and Lebanon settled on the islands and also had a great impact on the contemporary population of the islands.

Today, all of these various racial and ethnic groups make up the ‘melting-pot’ of a population that is Trinidad and Tobago. The country’s populace is predominantly Indian, followed by African, Mixed, Caucasian, Chinese, Middle Eastern, and Other (all in descending order based on population size). The resulting culture is that of a “mosaic” of the various individual groups, fairly blended and yet distinct in many ways.

Throughout this blog, posts will focus on the island-life culture and the places to visit on a student budget.

*Disclaimer: This is a summary of the country’s history, it does not intend to comprehensively cover all of the happenings in the country, but it merely acts as a brief encapsulation of the historical events that led to the current population and culture of Trinidad and Tobago.