Before I came to Trinidad, I was trying to be vegan but couldn’t resist eating cheese, so I always failed, but since I’ve been here I’ve been vegan the whole time. Meals are made from vegetables from the garden with rice, and snacks are mainly picked from the trees.
Here are some of the things I’ve been snacking on…
Sapodilla is found mainly in the Caribbean and Latin America, but it does have some different names (e.g. naseberry in Jamaica). It’s probably my favourite fruit except bananas, and I find it tastes a bit like dates. Sometimes you can find it on trees but sometimes you have to buy it from the market.
Papaya grows in my garden, so it’s pretty much always available. They grow green and then yellow areas start appearing on them, which is when you should pick them. They have a strange flavour and they definitely taste better cold, so put it in the fridge if you can.
Bananas also grow on the farm where I work, so I basically have an unlimited supply of them. When you’re in the Caribbean, you should know that even when bananas are green and don’t look ripe, they probably still taste sweet and ripe, like the ones in the photo.
To get coconuts, it’s probably best if you make friends with a rasta and ask him to get you some from the bush. That’s what I normally do anyway… or you can get them from the market. When they’re green like in the picture, that means they’re young, so they’re good for drinking the water. To open them, you need a machete (again, just asking a rasta is the easiest option). In the photo you can see me attempting to open it.
If you hold it on the ground it’s not too dangerous. Basically just keep whacking the machete down at one end until you get deep enough that the water starts appearing. If it’s not too young, there will also be jelly inside, so to eat that you need to cut the whole thing open after you’ve had the water.
Older coconuts are brown on the outside and the water from them isn’t so good, but they’re easy to open and you can eat the harder flesh from the inside. They have an invisible ‘equator’, so to open them, just hit them on the ground around the equator until they crack open.
Cacao is what chocolate is made from, but if it’s at the right ripeness, you can also snack on the white flesh. Pick them when they’re yellow on the outside, like in the photo, and pick out the white gooey seeds and suck them. Make sure you don’t bite them because it’s really bitter if you do.