Saltfish Buljol

Trying to capture the essence of true Trinidad and Tobago culture and cuisine is going to be a challenge. Seizing a moment; any given time, a snapshot of what its like to be here-now and transposing the real everyday wonders and miraculous nothings. I will forever endeavor to do it justice.

Saltfish Buljol Trinidad Style
In Trinidad and Tobago, when someone offers you Saltfish, or you see it on a menu it means a Buljol of Salted Fish. I have seen a number of meanings for the word Buljol, but from my experience of Caribbean Fusion expect the meal to be prepared almost like a salad with sea food as the base. Usually a fleshy fish is used (though I have had it with squid), it is cooked and chopped finely or flaked, mixed together with chopped onions, garlic, tomatoes, tossed in olive oil and fresh lime or lemon juice and served at room temperature. Buljol recipes using salted fish, all over the Caribbean are really not that different, their variations are subtle; adding hot peppers, sweet peppers, chives or avocado. 
Salted Pollock
To me these are all things you can add to the base recipe if that’s your preference, and if you are purchasing it prepared from a restaurant in Trinidad, you ain’t getting avocado in it (expensive and popular item) nor are they lacing the whole public offering with hot Scotch Bonnet Peppers (the local flamer measuring 100,000-350,000 on the Scoville Scale).  

Clockwise from top: Onions, Garlic, Salted Fish, Tomatoes, Thyme Leaves (centre)
Trini Saltfish Buljol is made from either salted Pollock or Shark. In earlier years Cod was used until the Atlantic Cod population began to decline and its price skyrocketed. You can buy salted fish here at any grocery, established market or any self respecting neighborhood shop (we call them parlours). Easy to prepare and enjoy any time, it is considered a breakfast item and accompanied by your choice of a variety of bread like sides. 
Saltfish being prepared (boiled & flaked)
Done right, the taste of the fish is not salty, but the salting process concentrates the essence of the fish such that it is infused and fragrant with the good fish flavors. The dish is balanced with the aromatics; onion and garlic while the tomatoes add texture and their acidity enhances taste. The oil and fresh lemon put it over the top, cleaning and sharpening up the flavors. The liquid that springs from these ingredients marrying is best eaten by sopping it up with torn bits of fresh bread, bake or nann held with your fingers grabbing the flesh then shoving it into your mouth with lip smacking delight. 
Plan to eat this when you don’t have to make out with anyone soon after, but do plan.
Saltfish Buljol and Garlic Nann (w/red pimento)



I love entertaining. I have come to understand though, that not every gathering requires extensive planning, prepping and slaving over a stove. I hate being caught with nothing ‘worthy’ to offer a guest (mother did not raise me that way) even if they turn up unannounced and once I set a plate, I aim to impress.
To never be caught off guard, Crackers have become a staple in my arsenal (and pantry) for more than 15years and with this versatile biscuit as a base, I’m ready for anyone (including the Queen) to drop by.
Crix and Carr's Crackers
Every country has it’s biscuit of choice, in Trinidad ours is known as ‘Vital Supplies,’ a savory plain wheat cracker called CRIX that everyone ate growing up; Crix topped with condensed milk, salted cod, cheddar cheese, ham, sardines, guava jam, honey or with your fish broth or cow heel soup. Any day, any way. This plain cracker was such an everyday item, that more was expected when giving a snack to a guest. For me, enter the Table Water Cracker that bears Her Majesty The Queen’s crest; Carr’s.
Carr’s was granted the Royal Warrant to produce the delicious thin savory cracker in 1841 and have retained it to this day. With many varieties including a crispy, aromatic roasted garlic and herb (my favorite), and an Entertainment collection selection box with 9 of the favored varieties they produce, this remains top shelf yet affordable and easily attainable (carried by all the leading grocery chains).
My Snack Plate
While I have been spending a little extra on Carr’s, Bermudez, the manufactures of Crix has become wise to the market’s demand for fancier and trendier (health conscious) and introduced Whole Wheat and Multigrain versions of Crix and a small version in lunch box packs of Spinach and Pepper Cheese flavors. All yummy, wildly popular and so affordable that again a new generation calls it ‘vital’ (my ten year old requests them often) and the older generation finds new things to top it.
Packages of Carr's and Crix
So vital the biscuit, you can now buy a pack of Crix on Amazon.com and share your love for Crix by becoming a follower on the Crix Lovers Facebook page.
Trini’s away from home - you are not left out! Snack away Trinbago style.


In our quite little corner of the world….we live.
Life happens here like no other place on the planet, Trinidadians are truly unique; we love our drink, our bellies and we love to be out and about with family and friends (‘liming’ as we call it) no matter what the weather or the circumstance. We live with a flare that has a pinch of the countries and places we are connected to by the blood our forefathers still pulsing through our veins, yet remain idiosyncratic as a people. Distinct in our place as part of the collective Caribbean.
Fireworks and the Port of Spain Skyline
Independence Day celebrations this year was no exception to the bacchanal, recreation and spectacle that Trinis can generate on any Holiday (not that we need a reason). August 31, 1962 Trinidad and Tobago gained it’s independence from the British and the official celebration is recognized with Military style parades in the streets of the capital of Port of Spain, Trinidad and in the sister isle of Tobago in Scarborough.
National Awards are presented in grand ceremony in the afternoon to brothers and sisters of the soil, heros and significant contributors to the county’s good.
Later at around 9:00 p.m. fireworks displays are held, again in Port of Spain and Scarborough. Many have made a tradition of finding the right spot for their gathering, and make an outing of the night.
My husband and I, are two of the many who stay at a hotel (the Trinidad Hilton) overlooking the Port of Spain Savannah where the fireworks display is held in Trinidad. From a balcony (better of course if you get one of the upper floors), you feel as though you can touch the shards of light. The effect can hardly be explained, you don’t just see the two dimensional spread and shower of luminescence, you experience the third dimension of the pyrotechnics; it coming straight at you with the slightly delayed sound (BOOM), resonating in your chest after each explosion of visual sensory deluge. We have seen this spectacle many times over from the same balcony and I must say...It never gets old!
Fireworks Outside My Balcony - Amazing Colour
At the end of it you hear the screams of delight raise out of the dark all around you. From the hundreds of rooms at the Hotel, the crowd lined streets below, the open Savannah and in the hills and environs. The cheers are carried on the wind, undulating, waxing and waning until its no more, and signaling the start of the journey home for many.
The added bonus for those holed up in the hotels till the next day…….you get to party on, or sleep in a great bed that you don’t have to make in the morning and recover from the optical overload. For me, I get to partake of one of my favorite things in the whole world (I kid you not)….room service!
Hilton's Steak & Vegetables
The in-room dining menu at this Hilton is not extensive, but It covers the bases: Callaloo Soup, Traditional Trini curries (lamb and chicken with roti) and the usual suspects for the foreigners (burgers, pizza, panini, clubs etc) along with some fantastic deserts. I go for the steak with local vegetables on the side or the rack of lamb. Yes, the red meat. With their food I have experienced consistently year after year an execution of a basic culinary technique which allows them to score each and every time; they know how to cook a steak! Its heaven in every bite and I can’t wait till next year!