Can Cook, Must Cook

The food adventures of Franka P, a Trinidadian journalist living in London, UK. I'll write about my forays into all types of food and cooking, particularly Caribbean food. I'll also review books and recipes by the leading food writers and talk about the issues making headlines in the gastronomic world.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

The Nation's Favourite Food

A few nights ago, I was testing a recipe for Trinidadian Stewed Mutton and started thinking about the dishes that really turn Trinis on.
With that in mind, I embarked on the ‘Trini’s finest’ food survey.

This very unscientific survey took the form of an email shot to about 70 of my Trini friends from different backgrounds and with varying attitudes to food.
I asked them to tell me what their favourite dish was and why.
I promised my friends that when the votes are all counted, I'll cook the winner and give my verdict on the blog.
I thought it would be a good idea to blog about this, because I felt the range of responses would show off the diversity of Trinidad's cuisine. Personally, I think ours is the most varied in Caribbean cooking.
Within one day, I received about 40 enthusiastic responses and so far, Breadfruit Oil Down has taken a handy lead ahead of Pelau as the favourite Trini dish.
In a few days, I'll declare a winner and tell you when I'm going to cook this meal.
Some of my friends waxed lyrical about their food and I have to admit I got hungry reading some of their emails.
Here's a taste of what some of them said.

Food is like music - there is one for every mood that you are in.
You cannot deny that for a Panaroma or impromptu beach lime or for cricket in the oval that a well bubbled chicken or beef pelau hits the spot, under a card lime or parang session a powerful pig foot souse with your water cress and cucumber just punctuates the occasion suitably especially if it's a tad spicy meshing well with the fire that is associated with Latino ethnicity.
Or what about after a fete - what better than a corn soup with dumplin, or a boil corn on the way to the beach or even a shark and bake when you get there.

For me it is cowheel soup, the nutrition aspect is really top standard, but I always remember my Grandmother making soup for me when I used to visit her in the country, and for my mom house in T&T soup day was always Saturday.

There is nothing in the world to beat doubles and a good roti - specifically a roti from Dobson's.

I love - and don’t laugh - provisions (eddoes, sweet potato, dasheen) fry up with saltfish, and tomato choka and sada roti. We usually make this after Easter when they have a lot of left over provision. You do the cook up with lots of garlic and pepper and the provision is in small bits and kinda soft. Fry in iron pot till its kinda sticking to the bottom of the pot.
Lisa G

A good, and I repeat GOOD, pelau has to be my all time favourite. Just something about a sticky pelau, hot off the stove, loaded with peas and the right amount of pepper....comfort food without being dessert. Could just curl up and sleep after!

My favourite dish is oil down - with lots of fat pieces of pig tail and a
ton of coconut milk just seeping into the breadfruit and causing it to melt
all over everything!!! Oh gorm, now I'm starving!!!!

Ah guess it goin to have to be a good coconut bake and saltfish/smoke herring. De smell alone does make you even more hungry, yuh does want to buss it up but really a heavy breakfast like that does keep you full until you have a Trini Sunday lunch which must include a good callaloo etc. Remember lunch is usually later on Sundays since you might have church, yuh washing, yuh cleaning and preparing your various dishes for Sunday lunch.

I love ochro rice with pigtail. I like the slippery feel of the ochro sliding down my throat and I like the salty surprise of the pigtail between the rice.

Stewed oxtails, white rice and pigeon peas. It is the most succulent meat once properly stewed (soft meat, completely browned) and when placed on a bed of steaming white rice with peas, it is the perfect meal.

My favourite dish is pelau.
Reason? When I was finally living, working, had my own flat in Trinidad (not just visiting), my brother and I held a flat-warming party. We made sandwiches (yes, sandwiches!) and got a real Trini cussin' from our friends with plenty of advice about cooking REAL food for Trini parties.
Later that week, I asked the then cook, canteen, and general welfare matron at Radio Trinidad (in the days when we still had a tea trolley arriving in the newsroom!) to show me what to make. She gave me a list of ingredients and showed me how to make the best damn pelau on the planet.
But, pelau is still my party food of choice for Caribbean and British friends alike (and I keep modifying the recipe when needed).
Debbie R

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  • At 13:50, Anonymous Caira Cudjoe said…

    Love de page. What is the next survey?


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