These two Caribbean islands cook up a mouthwatering blend of African, Chinese, Indian and European influenced cuisine. Dishes are replete with delicate spicing, tender meats, fried breads and sugar-encrusted desserts. Dining opportunities are endless;open-air restaurants populate the beaches, roti stalls dot every corner and locals open their yard doors to set up cafes and quick foodie joints. With all that’s on offer it’s hard to whittle down a list of must-eats, but we’ve managed and below is every sumptuous dish that you cannot miss while holidaying in TandT.
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Macaroni Pie unlike its overseas cousin, is prepared in a totally different way and as result is more cheesy, intense and less sloppy than the European version. The pasta is mixed with a lot of cheese, seasoned very well with a splash of peppery sauce for a little heat and is then laid flat in a square baking tin and cooked until crispy on top. The result is perfect squares of cheese-coated screws of pasta sliced straight from the pan.
Brown Down Chicken is a spicy stew with a thick, sweet sauce. The chicken and onions are caramelized in brown sugar which, as well as the spices, gives the stew its russet colour.
Festival Bread is fried dumplings; crispy on the outside and light and doughy within. The corn flour and dash of sugar give the breads a sweet moreish taste and can accompany any plate of food.
Dumplings have a slightly slimy and slippery texture but they are delicious and if you’re craving some carbs they are the ultimate bready fix. They are served with a variety of dishes but you will most often see them with curried crab and coconut.
Breadfruit has a very pungent aroma, a kind of love it or hate it smell. When the breadfruit is at its peak of ripeness the waft is noticeable from yards away, not entirely unpleasant but awfully strong. However smell aside it does taste good. It has a very dense texture and feels a little like eating a tropical potato/bread. Breadfruit Oil Down is a traditional recipe where the fruit is boiled down in coconut milk and eaten with salted meat.
Rotis are ubiquitous on the streets of Tobago and you cannot walk for more than five minutes without spotting a stall. These are flour wraps stuffed with curried meat or vegetables and the many different variations include split peas, thinner flat bread or chickpea.
Coconut Bake is a type of bread made with grated coconut and usually served at breakfast time with cheese or buljol. The accompaniment buljol is a salted codfish shredded and covered in peppers.
Black Cake is served mostly at Christmastimeand is a satisfying amalgamation of dried fruits, lemon zest, vanilla and brandy. The cake packs a punch and the soused fruits plump and swell in the warm brandy. You will recognise this cake as it is decorate with delicate white icing and sits proudly on any table.
Peanut Punch is the drink of the beach. One sip and you are in heaven, even if you are not much of a nut fan. The punch is a rich condensed milk combined with peanuts, sugar and cinnamon (sometimes nutmeg) and is sold icy cold on sidewalks.
By Natalie Laurence