VENI MANGE - TRINIDAD STREET FOOD
Veni Mangé is a Creole expression for "Let's Eat". It's a perfect little phrase that captured my mood after seeing and smelling some of the fantastic cuisine that Trinidad Island has to offer. It also explains another little phrase.....one never goes hungry in Trinidad. A quick stroll down Frederick Street and Independence Square gave me confirmation of this familiar Trini adage. The waterfront center is a vibrant hustle-bustle district filled with a number of shops and diverse cultural fusions including a large Syrian-Lebanese community and it's own Chinatown. I loved hearing music played everywhere while purusing the open air food stalls.
I especially enjoyed some of the local favorites like roti (a wrap stuffed with curried meat or vegetable filling) and doubles- the ultimate Trini street food made with two flat fried breads, channa (curried chick peas or garbanzo beans) and any variety of spiced chutneys (mango, cucumber, coconut, tamarind) and pepper sauce. Traditional "doubles" are an East Indian inspired breakfast fare. The last notable Trini food fare is a deep fried shark wonder, surrounded by a fried bun and topped with numerous fillings. It's called a "bake and shark". It is something New York Times journalist Sam Sifton calls "a truly righteous sandwich."
Bake and Shark Photo: M. Timothy O'Keefe / Alamy