Written by Ola Mazzuca – March 3, 2014
With Port of Spain in heat, abundant with tourists and locals alike participating in bacchanalian festivities, the outskirts of Trinidad and Tobago’s capital offers culinary respite from the Carnival traffic.
It’s a hot, sunny Tuesday afternoon in Tunapuna and people are lined up inside Lovey’s roti shop. They order buss-up-shot with curried chicken to flaky, soft layers of dhalpuri embracing pumpkin, channa and potato. Outside, the weather is hot, but it doesn’t compare to the piping fillings of a classic Trinidadian roti.
Lovey’s is a local take out spot in offering a simple, yet satisfying menu. Order ‘buss-up-shut’ and you’ll get pieces of flaky, light Paratha roti. The name is a phonetic take on “bust up shirt,” as the torn pieces of flatbread resemble ripped fabric. Bone-in fillings of chicken, beef and goat are served on the side. Buss up shut encourages eating with your hands, as the fragrant curries are scooped up with the wrap.
If you’re looking for a more cohesive method of eating, opt for dhalpuri. Its layers are filled with “dhal,” seasoned ground split peas, creating a savoury pastry. Not a meat eater? Try bodi, which are long green beans, or my favourite combo of pumpkin, channa (chickpeas) and potato. If you’re from out of town and feeling adventurous, fill it with liver and gizzard.
When the woman at the counter asks, “pepper?” think about it. A full “yes” will get you an inferno hit of hot sauce, be it’s origins scotch bonnet or ghost, “pepper” is more than a black bulb ground into dust. If you want a bite for good contrast to the sweet peas, opt for “slight.” You’ll be safe.
If you’ve committed to heat, consider picking up a bottle of Solo Apple J or Peardrax. The carbonated juices are a crisp way to douse the fire.
As energy is expended to the maximum during Carinval season, it’s best to stop for a quiet lunch away from the city. Ensure that you’re in a shaded area, a hot roti in hand with a Solo in the other, and you’ll be ready to head back in town to turn up on the road.