Imagine the smell of a good curry wafting through Churchill Square and just when you follow your nose, you see someone passing with a plate of jerk chicken with rice and peas. Drooling, now you look for a short line to get some food, but you hear, “this roti is the best.” Meanwhile someone is blowing on their Jamaican patty to cool it down and your belly growling. In the line, you hear “Two doubles with slight pepper” and you wonder what is a doubles, and can you handle slight pepper? What are you going to choose?
Food is an intrinsic part of the Caribbean. It is something that brings the community together. If you ever get invited to a Caribbean household, you will probably leave feeling full. There is a saying “come with belly in yuh hand” which means come hungry. I know when I visit family in the Caribbean, I’m glad it is only my luggage that has a weight restriction.
Caribbean food is a melting pot of flavors from all over the world. Slaves came come Africa, India, and China. The influence of English, Spanish, and other European countries have also influenced so many dishes. However, the spices that were available in the Caribbean have given birth to an exquisite range of flavors that are distinctive to the region. When you eat a plate of pelau or Escovitch, you can feel like you are in the Caribbean. Whether you call it curry chicken or chicken curry, know that each plate will taste amazing as they are cooking with generations of their ancestors behind them.
There are many good Caribbean restaurants which will close over the Cariwest festival weekend to provide food on the Square. It is a great way to experience Caribbean food while eating from established food eateries. My favorite part of eating all the food is seeing the chefs cooking Jerk right on the spot, or someone ‘belaying’ roti to cook on the tawa. As I grab my food and head to cool off with my favorite beverage from the Caribbean rum gardens, I'm transported right back to the Caribbean being fed my aunties.
This year, Cariwest is introducing a ticketing system that will help with the long lines. You can buy a sheet of tickets or a few for your favorite morsels. Advanced tickets will be available for purchase as well as on Churchill Square. Come to Cariwest and let us know what you ate! August 5-7, 2022.