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Cuisine and & Nightlife

Tobago's cuisine is a unique blend of African, Indian, Chinese, European and Latin American influences, overlaid with those of countries as diverse as Syria, Lebanon and Italy.

Replicating the diverse multicultural, multiracial population of Trinidad, this has created a fascinating culinary fusion far more interesting than the typical fare found elsewhere in the Caribbean. To most people is one of the highlights of a visit to Tobago.

Curry and roti are national favourites. Roti originated in East India, but, like all West Indian curry dishes, has now been thoroughly localised and are now quite different to their East Indian variants. It is basically a thin flat unleavened bread (flour pancake), very much like a tortilla. Generally known as a roti skin, or roti wrap, it is traditionally wrapped around a meat and potato curry. Other popular fillings are curried chicken, goat, shrimp or conch with potato chunks and channa (chickpeas). Vegetable roti is popular with vegetarians. A more expensive variant is the paratha roti which has a crisp crust but is light and fluffy, whilst soft on the inside. They're all rather messy to eat, but don't be afraid to use a knife and fork. Totally delicious. Must be tried!

Crab and Dumpling is a local speciality. To be frank, is not one of my favourites dishes. With all due respect to the people of Tobago, who I love dearly, this is one dish that I shall never attempt again. The crabs on Tobago are small, so contain very little meat. The dumplings are generally wet and sticky and the appearance of the dish is reminiscent of the contents of a baby's nappy. Tasty, maybe (the crab and dumplings, that is), but to my mind it's a lot of work for very little reward. Maybe I'm just not adventurous enough. Many people rave about crab and dumplings.

Seafood is highly popular on Tobago with fishing being the nearest thing to an industry in Tobago. You won't get fresher fish anywhere else. Away from the 'international' restaurants of the most populated areas of the island, you will find that local restaurants all serve variations of the same basic spicy Creole cooking. Menus are virtually unheard of; guests are simply given one or two choices of meat (chicken, lamb, or beef) or fish.

Vegetarians are well catered for. There are two major groups of vegetarians on Trinidad and Tobago - devout Hindus and Rastafarians - so every restaurant will have options.

Turning to alcohol, rum is the most popular drinks. Beware of rum punches - they will contain at least a triple measure of rum and you'll be under the table before you know it. The local Trinidad-brewed beers are Carib - a good thirst quenching light lager, slightly on the sweet side, with an alcohol content of 5.2%; my own personal favourite Stag - slightly drier and stronger, at 5.5%; and a locally-brewed version of Heineken. Remember, the heat will speed the effects of the alcohol.

 

 

 

Tobago Bars & Nightlife

A local idion says "get up with the sun, go to bed with the sun". A very large percentage of the population, particularly in rural areas, go to bed only a few hours after sunset. Mind you, they are up before dawn. Many of them will have done half a day's work before the average tourist finishes breakfast.

Don't make the mistake of thinking that Tobagonians don't know how to have fun. In truth, they make our modern British culture of 'getting bladdered' look as pathetic as it really is. As the home of calypso and soca, Trinidadians and Tobagonians almost invented the word 'fun'.
If you need convincing, just try a late-night session at Sunday School.

Most hotels provide nightly entertainment during the 'high' season winter months. The acts largely revolve around local cultural acts. They are generally very good, but audience participation is normally nil. For many years I thought this was a product of the type of clientele at the hotels I favoured, but having stayed at every major hotel on Tobago, I realise that it is probably more to do with the British guests who represent the majority of the patrons at these hotels.

Outside the Crown Point area, nightlife consists of little more than social interaction with locals and/or other visitors at small local bars. It is rare to find one open as late as 11pm. Given the sparsity of nightlife venues.