A Trinidadian BBQ
I recently went to a bbq my husband’s family was throwing, and I thought I’d give you a glimpse into what a Trini bbq looks like. I’m not sure this could really be termed “typical” because his family is definitely comprised of foodies and make sure you have a staggering number of delicious dishes from which to choose.
I was starving when I got there which was such a bad move on my part. West Indian culture (much like many other cultures I could detail…) dictates that the chance an event starts on time is slim to none. I knew this! and still showed up hungry, but, luckily, my mother-in-law snuck me some phulourie.
Typically a street food, these little fried dough balls are made from split pea or chick pea flour mixed with curry spices. They are traditionally served with a thin, fruit chutney or, like here, a tamarind sauce. Deliciously poppable. And really hard to stop eating even when you AREN’T hungry. I quickly devoured these goodies and used all the willpower I could summon to stop, so I could leave room for the serious food ahead.
To paint the scene, we had brought some friends and positioned ourselves strategically on a table in the middle of the deck, so we could partake in all the conversations around us. Ladies were sitting next to us, chatting away and swooning over a pair of 9-week-old twins, the newest additions to the family. Men were out on the lawn in chairs discussing cricket and politics, while the kids were throwing around a football. We were heavily embroiled in a card game, and the trash-talking was reaching a new height at the point the food was brought out. Everything halted, and cards were thrown to the side to make room for the plates…
It was impossible to choose what to eat: jerk chicken, sweet and spicy pork ribs, hot dogs, sausages with onions and peppers, grilled fish…and those are just the proteins! The sides were equally dizzying – regular potato salad, sweet potato salad, lo mein, peas and rice, and callaloo. So the lo mein may be confusing, but it shouldn’t be. Trinidadian cuisine is multi-cultural and has been influenced by the ethnicities that inhabit the island. Chinese and Indian traditions are interwoven into the cuisine yielding dishes like lo mein or even the phulourie, which are really close to pakoras and bhajis in South Asian cuisine.
Of course, no West Indian bbq would be complete without the pepper sauce! The main ingredient of these sauces is the scotch bonnet pepper, which is beyond hot but with such incredibly distinct flavor. And this sauce, which is made by my husband’s uncle (from whom I’m still trying to pry the recipe…), will make your eyes water with the best of them. Although now, he tells me he’s coming with even more thunder and going to grow Bhut Jolokia, the hottest pepper in the world, to make some sauce. Can’t wait to try….a little, tiiiiny drop.
Such a great weekend. I will definitely be cooking some of the authentic, Trinidadian dishes I mentioned above in the coming months…