Saturday, February 12, 2011

Trinidadian public market

The best way to get to know a country is to visit its public food markets. This is where you see people up close and personal - what they wear, what they look like, how they speak, how they interact with each other and with you, and, of course, what they eat. It's where you figure out where the food you eat comes from and where you can get tried and true local recipes. 
My favorite fish vendor
What's left
The pristine super markets of today have distanced us from what food really looks like. Watermelon isn't actually diced cubes of fuchsia fruity flesh - it is actually a large, hard, green oval-shaped thing that you have to chop up in order to get to the fruity flesh - and remember seeds? In most countries they are still not a thing of the past. Chicken is actually not the perfectly clean piece of pink meat that we know as chicken breast - it is actually full of veins and bones, feathers, and feet that you have to clean and cut. How long has it been since you saw a chicken? I'm talking about the whole shebang - the complete chicken that you are about to eat? A while, I'm sure.
pig snout
My point is that public food markets remind us of what food really looks like. I enjoy taking my son there because I want him to know what real ingredients smell, feel, and taste like. Of course we also buy things from a box and inevitably eat processed foods, but I believe it's important to always return to the real stuff. The original food that we, as humans are meant to eat. I often wonder if cancer rates are going up because we're eating so many processed foods. I'm no expert, but I feel better eating the real stuff. Bones, veins, and all.

hot sauce and chutneys
So, this morning, armed with my Mexican market bag, we headed to the public market in downtown Port of Spain. Here, vendors set up tables and sell everything from pig feet, salt fish, cow liver, tongue, and intestines to plantains, okra, hot pepper, red snapper, shark, bread fruit, and lions, and tigers, and bears, oh my!

I love this place. People are always eager to tell you about their produce, especially when they proudly explain that they grew it themselves. Many others import produce since Trinidad imports most of the goods consumed in the country. 
Locally grown okra
My market bag full of goodies, we headed to my friend's house to cook the things we bought. Tomorrow's blog = Trinidadian home cooking.

1 comment:

  1. Omg! I love this! I hate going to the market I just buy all my stuff at the grocery near campus :P But my grammy goes to the market and buys stuff. She walks around all day looking for a bargain!