PORT OF SPAIN, TRINIDAD – The tiny island of Trinidad and Tobago is home to a huge street food thriving culture. There’s something to whet your appetite in Trinidad, whether it’s Indian-inspired curries, tropical Caribbean fruits, or African flavors.
You can get street food for breakfast, to cool off in the afternoon sun, or the early hours after a night out. Street food in Trinidad is more than just food trucks parked in parking lots or on the savannahs. The food scene in Trinidad is diverse, from healthy options to artery-clogging choices, and vegetarian options to carnivorous ones. Trinidad is a food lover’s paradise, so get ready to dig in when you arrive.
Grab a ‘Punch’
Americans call it smoothies, while Trinidadians call it punches. You can find a “punch man” at a roadside cart blending bananas, peanuts, beets, or tropical fruits like soursop or babadeen. To boost the nutrition in your smoothie, add granola, flaxseed, or royal jelly (Trini men include Bois bande since it is considered an aphrodisiac).
This is the secret behind punch tasting better than any smoothie. A condensed milk base (sweetener) is used in its preparation. Make your punch count, you won’t go wrong if you order from Harry’s or Brown’s in St. James, Trinidad.
Enjoy a flavored ‘Souse’
Souse is a great food choice for adventurous eaters who like pickled meats and adventurous palates. Among the Trini words for salty, savory food to be consumed while drinking, Souse is the king of “cutters.” Made from pickled tails and feet of chickens and pigs, seasoned to perfection with added cucumbers, it is the most popular cold brined delicacy among Trini. It is understandable why they are sometimes called scratchers or trotters.
From the stand, choose your favorite ‘Fruits’
Among all mango varieties in the world, Trinidad’s Julie is the best. Alternatively, if those Julie mangoes are not in season, try other exotic fruits such as soursop, sapodilla, star apple, custard apple, Portugal, cashew, cocorite, pommerac, or pommecy there-all local fruits you’ll never forget. However, Trinidad is also home to the best-grown perfect banana, guava, and papaya (called pawpaw).
Tempt your taste buds with delicious ‘Ice Cream’ flavors
Want to treat yourself to something sweet? Eat local instead of Haagen-Dazs (way overpriced due to the import tax). Trinis make great flavored ice creams and it will take you more than one visit to choose your favorite frozen flavor, whether it be passion fruit, sapodilla, rum raisin, Guinness, peanut, coconut,or chocolate. For a cool down in the afternoon, B&M or JnJ are good choices in St. James.
Spice up your ‘Roti’ with some hot pepper sauce
Among Trinidadians, roti might be their favorite street food. Its shape can be compared to an Indian burrito, but it can be eaten either wrapped or deconstructed. Traditionally, Dhalpourie style wraps up the curry, while “buss up shut” serves as the bread on the side. Choose your favorite meat goat, beef, chicken, or shrimp and it will come with chickpeas, potato, veggies, pumpkin, and mango. It’s not uncommon to see vendors making it on the sidewalk at night. Trinis love roti at any time of day, so everyone has a favorite shop, and you can get into a heated debate about which is the best.
‘Doubles’, extra Pepper, or slight Pepper
Almost every street corner has a doubles vendor between 5:30 am and 9:30 am. A street food staple, doubles are Indian-inspired treats seasoned with madras curry, roasted cumin, and local love. There are two fluffy flatbreads called bara that are filled with savory chickpea curry and chutneys such as mango, cucumber, and tamarind. The on-the-go breakfast for half the island is without pepper or just “slight.” Also available are potato pies (called aloo pie) and saheena (a kind of healthier cousin to doubles).
Choose your favorite ‘Corn’
In Trinidad, corn is a street food superstar, whether it’s roasted, boiled, or in soup. Look for the large 20-gallon aluminum pots and smell the savory steam coming out of their lids. The traditional method of cooking corn is to boil it straight or prepare corn soup, a thick, well-seasoned soup that includes split peas, dumplings, and garnish. An homage to Trinidad’s West African heritage, black cast iron coal pots indicate that roasted corn is nearby.
Fresh or salted ‘Nuts’
There is nothing nuts about nuts for Trinis. As you travel in your car or taxi, you’re sure to come across a vendor walking up and down the traffic lanes, carrying large bags of peanuts, salted or unsalted (“fresh”). If you don’t specify, you’ll receive either salted peanuts or unsalted peanuts.
Additionally, you can find them with raisins or honey roasted. Ask for cashews—sometimes warm and always fresh off the local fruit, you’ve never had ones that taste like this before.
‘Coconuts’ on the spot
A walk around Port-of-Spain’s Savannah will make you feel like you have arrived in a prototypical island paradise, escaping the hustle and bustle of the city. The small town is home to coconut vendors who sell their goods from the back of their ornate trucks. Machete skills here are worth admiring as much as the sweet liquid. If you want the jelly, you will have to ask them to chop it open when you are finished drinking. A spoon will be made from the husk by the vendor. Sip an ice-cold coconut with a straw and enjoy the scenery.
‘Pholourie’ with mango and pepper
Is your mouth watering for a deep-fried savory donut ball? There is something irresistible about fried donut’s deliciousness covered in mango curry and pepper sauce. Is it just too hard to resist? Spend five dollars and walk away with a dozen pholourie.
The Taste of ‘Home-Cooked Meal’
Want to experience a Caribbean aunt’s home-cooked meal of callaloo, macaroni pie, and stew? With multiple vendors under one roof, Breakfast Shed in Port of Spain has all the flavors of the island. Besides Trinidad’s favorite street foods, Veni Mange offers a dining experience with local art, vibrant colors, and a great bar. The authentic flavors and spirit of each are true to the local culture.