By Annisa Phillip. Photos: Marina Rivas – Dinner rolls, Pastelles, fruit cake, and sorrel and ginger beer. Edwin O’Neal – Ham. “You can take the woman out Trinbago but you can’t take Trinbago out of the woman.” This twist of an old cliché holds true for those who have our lovely isles dear to their hearts. Personally, leaving Trinidad and Tobago on holiday does not mean that I leave it behind. I take my culture with me. I do not automatically change my accent or speech because I am proud of where I’m from.
A family woman
Even the food I take with me… well, even the food I cook. I can have a Trinbago Christmas wherever I am in the world… provided I find all of the necessary ingredients. This is much to the delight of my family members overseas. Pastelle is a must, black cake and Punch de Crème… you now talking my language!
Thanks to the internet, parang is ensured. When I can’t be home for the holidays I am sure to make do. Christmas morning is greeted with ham, chow chow, dinner rolls (in the absence of hops or homemade bread), pastelle and maybe a slice of the drunken fruit cake. I miss out on the sorrel but I guess you can’t always have everything you want.
Bearing in mind that Christmas is not actually about food, time spent with loved ones, being grateful and remembering the real reason we celebrate is essential. However, the food is a bonus. *Big grin*
February 2014 – Issue 8 www.sweettntmagazine.com
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Excerpt by Kielon Hilaire
Yummy pastelles, fresh breads, sweet fruitcakes, crusty pies and sweetbreads with textures so fine that every mouthful slithers down your throat to satisfy your innermost desires. But of course for many Trinbagonians Christmas is no Christmas without black cake – a cake that is laden with a plethora of fruits and drenched with premium spirits. Then there are the drinks – sorrel, ginger beer, mauby and an all time favourite, Ponche de Crème which is a homemade beverage primarily made from alcohol, nutmeg and a combination of creamy milk.
All of these Marina enjoys making. But no matter what, Marina claims that one of her signature dishes, especially as it reminds her of how she got started, will always be to bake ham or turkey till it is moist and tender, a meal that is often the highpoint of a non-vegetarian’s Christmas. Nevertheless, Marina attributes much of her success in the kitchen to being a Graphic Design major and having a natural enthusiasm for art. To her, cooking and art are the same things.
Marina was asked if she could imagine Christmas without food. Her response was, “Absolutely NOT! Not just because I love the food so much but because cooking and baking during that time of year can easily bring families together. Some people see Christmas as a time for opening gifts but I see it as a time to celebrate life, for celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ and spending time with the people who mean the most to you, sometimes even with strangers. Christmas to me is also a time for sharing, giving and being at peace with yourself. And this all starts from the moment someone realises that material things will never continuously make your Christmas merrier.”