Trini Recipes and Street Food
Cassava Pone is a sweet baked treat that shares a history of the indigenous Caribbean people. Cassava, a root vegetable native to the tropical regions of the Caribbean, Central and South America, was a food staple of the indigenous people. Pone seems to be an adaptation of the words Appone or Ponap used by these same native people which roughly translates to bread. The Caribbean in particular is also rich with spices and natural sugar cane. Taking all these factors into consideration it's no wonder this dish has thrived through so many generations.
In Trinidad Roucou is the local name for the Annatto fruit of the Achiote tree. The fruit is a heart shaped pod with spikes on the surface and seeds inside. Historically these seeds are used to flavor foods and the vibrant orange red colour was used as a die with the native Amerindian Tribes. The pulp that covers the seeds is ground or soaked in water to release the pigment which would then be used to adorn the body or hair. When used in foods it can also add color but as a flavoring it adds a nutty peppery taste to a dish.
Coo Coo is a cornmeal dish that resembles Ugali from Africa or Polenta from Europe. However this caribbean version is flavored with Coconut Milk Okra and local herbs and seasonings. As with most caribbean dishes the local vegetables, herbs and seasonings start the base of the dish to provide that aromatic depth of flavor. The coconut milk is used to hydrate the cornmeal which gives the dish a sweet creamy flavor. The mixture is finally poured into a dish sometimes intentionally to create a specific shape.
While the Caribbean is mostly known for its Rum there are other adult beverages that local Caribbean people have been making for generations. One such beverage is fruit wine which is a fermented drink made from ripe fruits, local cane sugar and spices. Guava wine in particular is often served at Christmas on some Caribbean islands. However, with such an abundance of fruits and different growing seasons fruit wines can be found at any time of the year.
Trinidad Chicken Foot Souse is another comfort food that came to the island with the European colonial migrants. This pickled dish was a tasty way to preserve meats before refrigeration and a way to utilize all parts of the animal. These less muscular parts of animals such as the feet, ears and snout are known as Offal. Originally these parts of the animal were affordable sources of meat but now they have become a delicacy and an adventurous culinary experience when traveling to different countries.
Barbadine as it's commonly known in Trinidad is also known as the giant granadilla, grenadine in Haiti and in Spanish speaking countries giant tumbo or badea. This fruit is part of the passion fruit family however it's pulp is similar to the Soursop with a soft cotton like texture. The flavor is more flowery than a passion fruit but when ripe the aroma is very strong and sweet. This is why in the caribbean we compliment this flavor with milk and use it to make Barbadine Punch or ice cream. This recipe will show you just how smooth and creamy this tropical fruit can be.
Browning Sauce is a local caramelized brown sugar used to add that dark brown colour to certain Caribbean dishes. Unlike Molasses, which is a byproduct of the sugar making process, browning is made from the granulated sugar. The crystals are cooked down and diluted to create a syrup consistency which is then used to add flavor and colour to both sweet and savory dishes.
Trinidad is known for their small family owned Bakeries that offer a wide selection of fresh breads along with local savory and sweet treats. One sweet treat that will make many Trini people salivate at the thought of them are Currant Rolls. This sinful pastry is made with currants that are wrapped and rolled between layers of buttery flaky pastry. The texture is a mixture of the crunchy outer crust with the soft chewing inner layers and fruity bursts of currants.