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Eating Blue Food Roti in Tobago

When you’re working in the Maritimes, you’ll find a ridiculously friendly people who have no clue about the Caribbean. They’re all super curious and have tons of questions. Most of the questions are the usual mundane type … but then one question caught me off guard …

If you’re a twin island republic, do you guys have the same type of food or does each island have a unique flavour to it?

This got me thinking about the differences in the food between Trinidad and Tobago. You can absolutely find Roti and Doubles in Tobago … but would I recommend it? Absolutely not! My lack of a recommendation isn’t because it’s terrible but because of the simple fact, that the % of Indo-Tobagonians is much lower than the % of Indo-Trinidadians. This would lend a reason for the lack of good Roti and Doubles in Tobago. That being said … you will find a type of roti in Tobago, that you will absolutely never find in Trinidad.

Dasheen Roti

Typically, a dhalpuri roti is made from flour with a filling of spicy yellow split peas (Dhal) and then come curried vegetable or meat. In Tobago, the annual Blue Food Festival, coordinated by the Tobago House of Assembly and the L’Anse Fourmi, Bloody Bay and Parlatuvier Village Councils puts a spotlight on a very common root crop called “Dasheen”.

A bit of backstory on the Blue Food festival …

In Trinidad, Dasheen is not that upmarket, in fact, it’s associated with a much lower socio-economic demographic. As a root crop, so low on the social food totem pole, it’s commonly called “ground provision” or “Blue Food”. Dasheen is a heavy, hairy tuber  when peeled, sliced in it’s raw form is creamy white, but once cooked, the “blue food” epithet comes from the transformation in colour to various shades of blue, most commonly a light gun metal hue. The leaves of the Dasheen plant are the main ingredients of Callaloo, which is almost a national dish in Trinidad.

This being said … October is “Blue Food” time in Tobago. The purpose of the festival is three fold:

  1. Firstly to provide an opportunity for local cooks to show just what they can do with Dasheen.
  2. Offer up a sales aspect to sell the food that cooks were dreaming up.
  3. Bring people from off island to a more remote part of Tobago along with the promise of large quantities of beer and rum for an epic lime!

At Blue Food Festival, you will find a dizzying array of dasheen based dished like dasheen sweetbread, pone, saheena, biscuits, currant rolls, ginger snaps, kebabs, crochet, fritters, ice cream. You’ll even find a dasheen wine and creamy punches. Some of the more obscure uses would be to make a dasheen tuile or shepherd’s pie.

Back to the Blue Food Roti …

The last time I went was in 2007 and it was a packed … and you had to take buses to get to the area. It was all worth it for my Stew Beef and Dasheen (Blue Food) Paratha roti.
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About Rishiray

Rishi Sankar is a Cloud HRMS Project Manager/ Solution Architect. Over the past 15+ years, he has managed to combine his overwhelming wanderlust with a desire to stay employed, resulting in continuing stints with 3 major consulting firms (IBM, Deloitte, Accenture). He documents his adventures around the world on "Ah Trini Travelogue" with pictures and stories from the road/tuk-tuk/camel/rickshaw. You can follow him on Twitter at @rishiray and on Facebook at "Ah Trini Travelogue . He doesn't like Chicken Curry but loves Curry Chicken and is always trying to find the perfect Trinidadian roti on the road. He also doesn't like cheese and kittens ... and definitely not together. E-mail from his blog is appreciated like a 35 yr old Balvenie at [email protected]

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