In the six-plus years I’ve spent with my significant other, there have been countless stories about Trinidad and Tobago. Coconut water, drunk straight from the freshly macheted fruit, after football in Port of Spain’s Queens Park Savannah. Parties at Carnival time. The best spots for doubles or roti, those staples of T&T cuisine.
But the one that I heard over and over again was about Sundays spent at Maracas Bay, with a crew of good friends, cold beers, and bake and shark, straight out of the fryer.
The road to Maracas winds over the mountains of the Northern Range; in spots, cars are separated from the edge by only a few lengths of steel cord and a yard of ground. Hairpin turns, blind corners, and two-way traffic add to the fun; during the rainy season, there are mudslides to contend with. It’s an exhilarating drive, one I finally got to experience when we visited last fall. We commandeered his mother’s creaking Corolla, and, with windows down, hot sun pouring in and radio turned up, made our way to the beach.
First stop, Richard’s Bake and Shark. Two sandwiches: the fried bread (bake) stuffed with shark, liberally garnished with cilantro chutney and pepper and tamarind sauces, then topped off with lettuce, tomato and pomme–cythere (apple) slaw. Two shandies, one lime and one ginger.
That first bite was unbelievable: Hot, crispy fish and pliant bake, with the crunch of lettuce and pomme–cythere and the squish of juicy tomato, the pepper sauce’s burn offset by both sweet-tangy tamarind and garlicky chutney.
On the sand, with the smell of salt water in the air, after a death-defying drive, it was nothing short of perfection.