Happy Independence to My Trinis!

I’ve been living in Miami for… jeez, coming up on a decade now! And I like it OK. I’ve become very used to Miami’s ways — not sure if that’s a good thing, sometimes. It probably just means I drive like a total jerk and I’ve learned more incidental Spanish than the average person.

Even though it’s been nine years of living away from home, I still get a real pang for my homeland. Especially on our public holidays. Americans no offense, but y’all need to buck up on the public holiday tip. Here, I’m lucky if I get eight. Trinidad has FOURTEEN. And EVERYBODY gets them. For real, the country is more-or-less shut down today so if you’re in Trinidad, hope you bought all your groceries and party supplies already! (Don’t even get me started on job vacation days. Trinis, allyuh really have it good).

Today is the 45th anniversary of Trinidad and Tobago’s independence, and while I have to work all day in my sad cubicle, my family and friends will be maxin’ and relaxin’ all day, eating good food, and soaking up the sun. Drink a rum for me, Mom and Dad – I miss you!

If you want to know what it’s like to visit T&T, check out this cool video that literally takes you up in a plane and over some of both island’s most beautiful sights.

This video is where I want to be, on the beach, getting my toes in the water. That looks to me like Store Bay in Tobago, where you can get some of the best curry crab and dumpling you ever hope to eat. Oh my, even typing the words curry crab and dumpling made me hungry. Mmmmmm. I could go for one NOW. Or even better — Bake and Shark. OH MY GOD, bake and shark. If you’ve never had it, you have NO idea. It is so, so good.

We eat some really interesting foods in Trinidad and Tobago. Check out this Bizarre Foods documentary that shows some of the strangest. For the record, my father loves pig and chicken feet souse and he once made my then-soon-to-be husband eat it, almost as a test. And yes, I’ve eaten iguana before. It’s not my favorite of the wild meats, but it’s not terrible.

Blog buddy The Bookmann has uploaded some great YouTube vids, including an excellent Trinidad Carnival Tuesday video that shows elements of old-time mas as well as the more familiar bikinis-feathers-n-sequins variety everyone adores. That jab-jab posse looked like my kind of fun. I enjoy the getting-dirty part of Carnival.

I love how The Bookmann captured passing sounds, from the big music trucks to the slowly-moving steelpan bands. In fact, I can’t think of anything more Trini, more celebratory, more spectacular than the sounds of steel. What better way to pay homage to our independence from British rule? It occurs to me that many of my American readers have never experienced pan. It’s a magnificent thing. Being there, in the North Stand during Panorama, is something to feel. Literally. The music literally fills your body. You can’t NOT dance. It’s beyond awesome. Here’s the Trinidad All-Stars performing Soca Warriors during the finals night of Panorama, our national steel pan competition.

American readers — want to hear a more familiar song translated into steel? Click here to hear the Trinidad All-Stars play “I Wanna Love You” by Akon. Can I assume this was performed before the debacle?

Whether you’re in Trinidad and Tobago, or like me — just a Trini living “in foreign” feeling homesick and planning to celebrate in your own way later, Happy Independence Day!

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Comments

  1. thanks for posting this. happy independence !!
    i watched that Bizarre Foods episode when it first came on, it was soo good, but nothing bizarre about it. mad me sooo hungry. the host seemed to have enjoyed the food too.

  2. Hey, I didn’t know y’all ate souse too!! Considering the heavy caribbean influences in panama, i should not be surprised. I don’t like it, though. I find sucking on a pig feet kinda gross…. but I do LOVE the cucumber water!! Dip some crackers in those… yum!!!

  3. Happy Independence Day to you…Bella,
    the post was wonderful as always. I did check out the Biazrre Foods video and would like to try some of the dishes myself. I’ve never been to Trinidad, but the videos and your speaking of your homeland…really make me want to visit one day. By the way, when will you be posting some more recipes? Take care and I hope you have a super weekend!!!!!!!!!!!!

  4. More recipes coming up, Star! I was just thinking about a post and I took some food photos last week. Soon come, promise. And Trinidad is a wonderful place to visit, and most tourists don’t make it that far south in the Caribbean. Holla at your girl for hotel recommendations!

  5. Happy Independence Day!!! My family and I are going to the beach to celebrate, but its still nothing like home!!
    Question, with so many West Indians who read your blog do ever plan on doing an entry on Carnival make-up…you know Carnival season is upon us!!!

  6. GREAT suggestion! I will get on that, NikkiJ.

  7. Happy Independence Day!

    I am not a fan of souse. LOL. Every New Years Eve my family would serve it along with some rice and black eye peas.

  8. happy independence day, bella.

  9. Happy Independence Day! Not Trini but I do appreciate the music there. Just love love the vibe. I hope to hear it live and up close one day(music). Maybe my next vacation plans will make that possible.

  10. AfroBella Caribbean Magazine and Tours. Hmm, I just saying,.

  11. Happy Independence Day Bella!!
    Trinidad is one of the many places I would love to travel to. I just wish America had half the fun and excitement West Indian cultures do. When the United States gained freedom from British rule Africans were slaves(property) so our ancestors didn’t have much to celebrate about. So freedom from Britain didn’t equate freedom for blacks. All in all, I hope you see your family soon back in the caribbean and I wish I could go back with you to Trinidad and try so authenthic dishes, and of course, bake & shark!! Ciao!!

  12. Sorry. I meant “some authenthic dishes”.

  13. At my church in Brooklyn, St. Stephen & St. Martin’s Church, we celebrated Trinidad’s Independence by reciting the national pledge and singing the national anthem & it was wonderful :o) Afterwards we served some refreshments for the people! Happy Independence Trinidad! Also have a good long weekend everybody :o)

  14. Bella you would be a great tour person and information guide for those of us in America who would like to experience the country. Something to pray on.

  15. Bella:
    Happy Independence Day! I’m from Guyana and I adore steel band music. One of my fondest memories is playing first pan as a child at school. I usually jam to an ancient calypso tape in the winter when I have to motivate myself to go to work. My mother also did the “souse” test on my yet-to-be husband and he loved it – and my mother loved him right back. But he is from Virginia, and he says that they eat everything from the pig except the squeak. Ha ha! FMG

  16. Happy Independence Day!

  17. For those who don’t like traditional souse like myself, you can do green fig souse or seafood souse..i will get some recipes to give to bella for her to pass on to you.

  18. I was in T&T for the Eric Williams conference, and I had a fabulous time! Id defenitely visit again, and recommend it to anyone who enjoys the Caribbean.
    L

  19. I think this is the first I’m visiting this blog. It looks pretty nice! T&T is definitaly the home of carnival, maybe one day I’ll get to enjoy Trini Carnival.

  20. Having lived in Miami my entire life, I never realized all the bad driving habits I developed until I moved to Portland, OR and now San Diego. I’m still getting used to actually using my turn signal.

  21. ladybugfromthechi says:

    Hi Bella,

    Happy Independence Day! I loved the Steel Drum piece….extra exciting…makes me wish I was right there!

  22. Hey F.Green, this is true about the VA and pig-eating.
    Some Virginians(not all) do like the swine. Look at the infamous Smithfield’s ham company. By the way, I am from VA as well, what area of VA will your soon- to-be family from? I’m from Northern/Central VA between DC and Richmond.

  23. Another popular chef who recently checked out Trini food is Rachael Ray. She’s featuring Trini food this weekend on her Tasty Travel show on the Food Network. The show will air on September 7, 2007 at 10.00 p.m. ET/PT, and September 8, 2007 at 1.00 a.m. ET/PT.

  24. Tysha(Sept. 4 2007):
    They are from a black neighborhood in Alexandria that is becoming very gentrified called Gum Springs. Rest of clan is in the Carolinas.

  25. re. Bake and Shark.
    Please check out the excellent documentary Sharkwater. It will change your mind (as it did mine) about buying another shark-related item. Please spread the word about the slaughter of sharks. Even if you don’t care about the animal, you owe it to yourself and future generations to protect the sharks. When they get wiped out (and they are being killed at a dangerously high rate), our oxygen supply (and obviously, health) will be messed up, as well. There are plenty of other things for us to eat without screwing up our environment and future.

  26. Happy independence! Sweet T&T I love my country, will die for my country. Pan sweet pan.

  27. Nice post man you wrote your heart out .
    While reading this i remember my days when i left my family and came t Saint Lucia .i had nothing but although managed to get some work live a hard life and now i run my business there in Saint Lucia ” http://www.stlucia.cc“.
    i also miss my family .

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