December 4, 2010

Trini Christmas Must-Haves

Posted in Art & Culture, Lifestyle tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , at 3:04 am by potofcallaloo

Following the continuing popularity of last year’s Christmas blogAh Trini Christmas in London? You Reckon? I decided to satiate the appetites of all you Trinis living abroad or those of you who are just curious about Christmas in the twin island Republic of Trinidad and Tobago.

Over the next weeks leading up the holiday I’ll blog on some of the essentials of ah Trini Christmas, letting you in on our wonderful parang music and culture, foods, customs and traditions.

Today however, I’m starting light with a list of Trini must-haves when celebrating the festive season.

Whether you’re lucky enough to be on the island’s soil or away in the wintery cold, this list highlights some fundamentals for making it ah true Trini Christmas in London, Queens, Sydney, Delhi, Marrakech… well you get the point. Feel free to add anything I’ve forgotten or any of your favourite must-haves to the list.

1. Sorrel or ginger beer (we prefer making fresh sorrel- a delightful juice made from the extracts of the red sepals of the Roselle plant (Hibiscus sabdariffa). It has a kind of kiwi-ish taste and when you add sugar, spice, some cloves and water yummmz the end result is fantastic! I haven’t seen any imported sorrel at shops in London but maybe we can get it in a tin somewhere? If not there’s always Shandy Carib Sorrel.

2. Pastelles – derived from the island’s Hispanic heritage, pastelles are a sort of steamed cornmeal pie filled with a seasoned meat of choice with added raisins, olives, peppers and seasonings, and wrapped in banana leaves. These aren’t too hard to make and they’ll leave your mouth watering for more!

3. Trinidadian black (fruit) cake –This favourite fruit cake has rum in it and a variety of fruits. Traditionally, many Trinis love soaking the fruits in cherry brandy for weeks before baking. Not my favourite but I haven’t met a Trini who can survive Christmas without it.

4. Parang music – This genre of folk music is also derived from the island’s Spanish heritage and also forms part of a social custom of merry making. Songs are sung in Spanish traditionally to the sounds of music made by the cautro, mandolin, base box and shac shac.

5. Paranging (the custom) – Go to your neighbor’s or friend’s house preferably stringing  a cautro singing an old parang tune. In the days of yore you’d be invited in to eat lots of tasty Christmas delights. Nowadays alot has changed but you can still go paranging to your circle of family and friends wherever in the world you are.

6. Trini Cassava pone – Ohh gawd! (a Trini exclamation) This is a serious taste bud charmer. Made from grated cassava, mixed with grated coconut, essence, spice, condensed milk, raisins if you like and in my family we use grated pumpkin and sweet potato… this sweet bread-like treat is bound to leave you in a dreamy state. Please take caution! J

7. Trinidad Punch de Creme – a kind of egg nog punch made with rum, eggs, lime, milk, spices and flavouring.Mmmmmmmmm…. is all I can say!

Ok… time for you to add your favourite Trini Christmas must haves to the list, whether it’s food or some other bit that will get your Christmas holiday kicking wherever in the world you are.