Street food is a major scene in Trinidad and Tobago. At the roadside, a plethora of vendors sell roast corn, soup, punch, doubles, gyros, burgers, you name it. These days the newest craze is food trucks. Let’s face it — it was inevitable! Don’t be surprised to go outside and see one in the vicinity of a restaurant. Some of them aren’t serving ordinary fast food either. Variety is the spice of life, and in a multi-cultural society like Trinidad and Tobago, it is abundant. You can choose from a selection of Venezuelan dishes, Indian cuisine, Vegan dishes, you name it; there will be a food truck or street vendor that sells it. Options, options, options!
This was the impetus for the first National Food Truck & Culinary Festival. Caterers, food trucks, food carts, restaurateurs and other vendors all in one place — the Queens Park Savannah Grand Stand. This was a chance to experience a bit of heaven.
Featuring good music, nice cool weather and friendly people, this event was a first but it will not be the last. Without a passport and the high cost of airfare, I got to taste cuisine from Belgium, Japan, Syria, Mexico, Jamaica, India, and other countries. The décor of the stalls and costumes of the vendors also fostered a connection to the countries they represented.
It was a rewarding outdoor dining experience for the entire family. Children ran around and enjoyed themselves while the adults limed uninhibitedly. Everyone got to taste a wide variety of food on a tight budget and the servings were bountiful!
I was fascinated to see a stall selling smoked herring wantons (apparently so was everyone else). By the time I reached the front of the line, they were sold out! This station also had spicy minced herring as a dip. I imagine this was normal in my parents’ and grandparents’ day but for a contemporary girl like me, this was unheard of! I must admit, I pictured myself sitting on the beach with one of those small jars of homemade minced herring dip paired with some crackers or nacho chips…mmmm…that and some bake and kingfish. My belly just growled!
Photograph by Shelly-Ann Inniss
Over at the Tobago station, there was crab and dumpling, fish in coconut and a range of other dishes. I bought some chip-chip (sugar cake), benne balls and a nut cake. Those didn’t last a night! My mouth is watering just remembering the taste of those sweets.
Have you ever heard of dasheen wine? I always approach anything green and leafy with caution but add some alcohol and there’s no second thought! I promise you, it is a fine way to get your alcohol fix and boost your iron and potassium at the same time. They also offered sweet potato wine. With these types of wines, who needs to skip meals? Your doctor should applaud you!
Let’s keep it nutritious. Watch out traditional dye masters, snow cones with real fruit are on the scene. Out with the old and in with the new! Guava, pineapple, orange, blue berries and other fruit are now officially in the snow cones of IBKashma Snow Cones. It’s not just dye. I think all that is missing is a hint of puncheon or a dash of babash! Plus, the cup sizes are even bigger than the regular size ones. Shooks, I should have walked with more money.
No food festival is complete without a competition. Daring foodies were challenged to eat the biggest burgers courtesy Grill Masters. The winner walked away with a cash prize of $5,000. Maybe with lots of practice and burgers under my belt, I’ll sign up next year!
With my belly full, I sauntered out of the gates. The wider exposure to the food offered in Trinidad and Tobago was phenomenal. I highly recommend the roti from Wings Roti Shop, Tunapuna; the geera from the Geera Station on Ariapita Avenue; and the food from Cup of Joe’s Catering Service & Moy’s Gluten Free Kitchen. I can’t wait to see what goodies the festival will cook up next time!