Tobago Food Uncovered – Part 1

On a recent visit to the beautiful Caribbean island of Tobago, we went on a culinary mission to seek out the very best local Tobagonian food. It was a hard job, but somebody had to do it!

This blog post takes you through some of the fruit, veg and pulses we found on our tour of the island. Some of which you will know and some you won’t. But we hope you’ll enjoy reading.

Tobago is situated in the southern part of the Caribbean and as you may know already, it’s sister island is Trinidad. They share some culinary traits within their dishes, but they also have some unique combinations.

The island has a vast array of tropical fruit trees, vegetables and pulses. On our travels around Tobago, we took some photos of various fruit and veg in their natural habitat. Have a look at some images below.

Tamarind is a fantastic fruit grown on a huge tree. It’s a common site on the island. The outer shell can be easily cracked open to reveal the seeds covered in sweet pulp. Most people eat it in it’s natural form, fresh from the tree. But you can use it in cooking, from sauces, add sugar to form Tamarind Balls, desserts and much more. Tamarind is used in familiar products such HP Brown Sauce and  Worcestershire Sauce and of course our Sweet Tamarind Sauce!

The Almond tree was another familiar site around Tobago. While we were browsing the beach cafes and craft stall areas, the trees where used in areas for sun protection, as the trees are huge and expansive – they are perfect to get away the sun’s strong rays. We ate many an ice cream under these trees!

Bananas as you well know are in abundance all over the Caribbean. Pretty much everyone has a banana tree in their garden in Tobago.

Bluggoe is a cousin of the banana. As you can see here it has a similar shape and colour but it’s a vegetable. It can be cooked by boiling, steaming or frying. You can also add to stews and soups etc. It’s only grown in the Caribbean and it’s very hard to come by in the UK. You can substitute this for Green Banana or Plantain. It’s very tasty.

Breadfruit is a vegetable used across the Caribbean. You can buy this from local ethnic shops in the UK. In terms of cooking the Breadfruit, you can treat it like a potato. It tastes great with cheese! We’re using this in our upcoming Grenadian Supper Club menu in March.

Calalloo is a green vegetable which is similar to spinach. It’s used in soups, stews or steamed on it’s own. You can treat it as you would spinach and just experiment. You are able to buy it fresh in the UK when it’s in season, other than that you can buy it in tins from any supermarket or ethnic food store.

Cassava is a large root vegetable which can be treated like a potato for cooking. In Tobago we had many cassava dishes mashed with onions, herbs and garlic.

We found this Cocoa Bean while visiting the Arnos Vale Plantation (which is currently under renovation). The outer shell is removed to reveal the whist husk, inside the husk is the cocoa bean itself, which is then roasted to produce chocolate.

Another plant we found at the Arnos Vale Plantation was the Coffee plant.

Coconut trees are a common sight in the Caribbean. They look beautiful and of course have many culinary uses. If you pick them young, when they are yellow in colour, you can extract alot of coconut milk to drink. It’s a clear liquid, which is so refreshing when the sun is beating down on your back!

The Date Palm is a fruit tree which is very common in Tobago. The tree looks magnificent with it’s broad, long leaves and tall thin body. The fruits are very pretty and can be eaten as they are, dried or the oil can be extracted from them (palm oil) and used in a variety of ways. I just think they look gorgeous, so beautiful – almost to good to eat!

Guavas are one of my favourite fruits we saw in Tobago, which can be found all over the Caribbean.

Mangoes, another one of my favourite fruits. I was quite tempted to pick these when I took this photo, but it was in someones front garden!

The Noni tree (pronounced: noo-nee) is a fruit we stumbled upon on our travels. My grandma has a few of these trees in her back garden in Carriacou, Grenada and she makes wine out of it. I’ve yet to taste this fruit, let me know what it’s like peeps!

Papaya or PauPau are common fruits on the island. The pictures shown are firstly unripe and secondly, ripe and ready to eat. My mouth waters just looking at these pics!

We spotted this Pigeon Pea bush not far from where we stayed in Courland Bay. These can be used in ‘Rice & Peas’ dishes, stews and soups etc. They’re very tasty.

The Pomerac is a fruit that can be treated as you would any fruit. my Trinidadian aunt (Tanty Charmaine) says you can dry and preserve them ready to be used in cakes. The fruit is normally red in colour. The ones pictured here are still quite young.

Sapodilla is another great Caribbean fruit. It’s very sweet and can be eaten just as it is – perfection!

There are so many different fruit and vegetables in abundance on this glorious island. We found some familiar favourites and some really unusual varieties of which I’m eager to try out on another visit!

I hope you enjoyed reading and looking at the piccies.

Check out our recipe page for some Caribbean recipe ideas for your meal here.

Tobago Food Uncovered- Part 2, will focus on our marathon feast of Tobagonian traditional dishes, such as Crab & Dumplin, Buss Up Shut and many more. You’re in for a real treat with this one (we came back twice the size)! Look out for it coming soon…

Bye peeps!

Lee, Tan Rosie Foods