Some patrons come to the festival with their coolers (empty to take home spoils from the culinary booths); some just come with empty stomachs and open minds. Dasheen is more than the commonly known leaves that make callalloo, but an extremely versatile root vegetable. The local cooks at the festival show off traditional and innovati
As I navigated through the boothsand tables with kids in tow (it is a kid-friendly event, after all), I tasted, talked and observed to compile this list of must-trys at the Tobago Blue Food Festival, so you won’t miss them next year.
Dasheen Ice Cream
Nearly everyone named dasheen ice cream as one thing they couldn’t leave the Blue Food Festival without having. It’s creamy, a bit nutty and just plain good.
The wide variety of dasheen wine options indicated its popularity. Big bottles and small bottles of the sweet liquor were widely “finished” as the event progressed and in patrons’ hands on the shuttle ride back home. Who knew such a starchy product could make such a delicate wine?
For those looking for a softer beverage, dasheen punch offer
s a creamy sip with bits of the earthy dasheen to add some texture. Alcoholic versions are also available for those who really like a “punch” (pun intended).
With all the sweet treats available, my kids still selected, devoured and voted dasheen khurma as the best. The little sticks were crunchy, gingery and sugary—not to mention gluten-free, which was really the only difference between them and the sweets you’re used to enjoying.
Bush Meat with Provision
If you followed the crowd, it led to you to where the wild things were. Dasheen dumplings and cut-up provision accompanied an array of stewed iguana, tattoo, rabbit, goat and, of course, Tobago’s famous crab. While dasheen took a humble backseat to the wild meat, it served as the perfect partner to sop up all the yummy sauces.
Light Dasheen Fruit Cake
There were very heavy black-cake-like versions of dasheen fruit cake but the lighter ones available offered a feathery alternative using dasheen flour. You can eat whole slice before realizing it’s done. I know… I did that. And no… I don’t regret it.
Blue Food Shop
The by-products of dasheen were just as impressive as the edible creations. And some looked good enough to eat. Seriously, there was one dasheen soap shaped like cake. Soaps, creams, oil, and candles were available for those looking for organic, locally-made home and body products.
So next year, when you go to the Blue Food Festival, take your sense of adventure. Be prepared for muddy feet (it’s rainy season, you know), try something new (dasheen pizza, anyone?), go on the Dasheen Farm Tour (the largest of its kind in Tobago), and look around to appreciate the beauty of the earth that provides and produces the provision. The charm of Tobago’s culinary heritage integrated into modern innovation will have you coming back for more.