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Street Food Friday: Roti, Doubles, and Shark in Trinidad & Tobago

February 14, 2014 at 10:42 AM | by | ()

In a new weekly Friday column, we'll explore street food and other culinary specialties from around the world. Last week, it was Nashville's famous "Hot Chicken." This week, we shoot down to Trinidad to see what's cooking.

Visitors to Trinidad & Tobago will notice a huge difference between the two islands. Tobago, at 116-square miles, is solely dependent upon tourism for its livelihood and flexes its muscles with beautiful beaches, such as Pigeon Point shown above. The significantly bigger (1,833-square mile) Trinidad, however, is an industrial island that pays its bills via oil and natural gas.

But don't be fooled. This is preciously what makes Trinidad & Tobago a great, well-rounded destination. Trinidad still has plenty to offer tourists in the way of beaches and adventure travel, but its main draw is its unspoiled culture, as the island is about as authentic as they come thanks to the fact that it's not dependent on tourism. During a recent visit, we fell for the local food -- the street food -- that goes down easy along the way.

Bake and Shark

Two words: Fried Shark. In the case you are skeptical of eating shark, consider what it would taste like fried. The place to have it is Maracas beach. If you don't like the shark, the scenery will certainly help, and you'll have no trouble making friends to clean your plate.


The Caribbean burrito! Roti refers specifically to the flat, flour tortilla-esk wrap, but it is also used to describe the dish in general. It's filled with chicken, beef, goat, chick peas, curry, plantains, or whatever else the kitchen has laying around. The meat is usually cooked and left on the bone for flavoring, so be wary of your bites.

Buss Up Shut

Buss Up Shut is a dish where the roti "skin" is served separately from its fillings, pulled apart as if you were ripping up a shirt to make a scoop and dip situation. Oh, what's in a name?


Thank the Lord for photographer Richard Cook, because we had a hard time capturing this snack in an appealing way. Doubles can be quite messy and unappealing to the untrained eye, but make no mistake: The curried chick peas, called channa, is worth seeking out. The small taco is referred to as "Doubles" because the chana is between 2 "barra" -- the Trini name for fried flat bread. Some order a "triple," but we recommend pacing yourself.

Tiny Crabs

These baby blues are endemic to Tobabo, and locals crack and eat them with their hands. Don't get caught using a cracker. If so, you'll miss out on one of the best parts: Licking the curry sauce from your fingers.

[Images: Will McGough/Richard Cook]

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