From Barbados to The Bahamas, St Lucia to St Vincent, each Caribbean island has its own distinct character, despite their similarities. And, no matter where you are in the world, one smell, one sound or one taste can transport you back to one of the beautiful isles in a moment. For those hailing from Trinidad and Tobago, My Trini Shop brings the smells and tastes of sweet T&T to wherever you are in the world; a one-stop-shop of Trinbagonian ingredients, drinks and more that ships worldwide. This year, for Notting Hill Carnival 2022, we have partnered with the My Trini Shop team to celebrate a taste of the Caribbean, alongside our Colours of the Caribbean costumes. Want to know more about the brand? We spoke with My Trini Shop co-owner, Sharan, to get a run down of the shop and her favourite tastes of the Caribbean.
What is your background? We are both born, bred and very proud Trinbagonians. We made the move together to the UK 20 years ago (!!) and the rest is just history.
What encouraged you to set up My Trini Shop? My Trini Shop was actually brought about from a personal desire for the ingredients to make a proper Trinbago meal. I clearly remember craving pholourie, with all the delicious homemade toppings, and wishing that we could just reach for a bag of pholourie mix.
Before we had kids, we would drive around to various shops in London, picking up one item here and there of the brands we know and love. Unfortunately, with young kids, it’s not that convenient to drive around on a Saturday morning from store to store in the hope that you would find the items you are after. We wanted a ‘one-stop-shop for all our Trinbago needs.
What are your most popular products on My Trini Shop? There are quite a few. Items like rums, pepper sauces, red mango, spicy channa, pimentos, and chadon beni are always popular, but if I’m honest, there are so many more I can easily list! What are your first memories of Notting Hill Carnival? Our very first Carnival was in August 2003, and we joined a mas band. The experience was so very different to what we knew Carnival to be back in Trinidad: it rained quite a bit on Carnival Monday and we were pretty cold - but definitely nothing that the sweet sounds of Soca couldn't fix. We didn’t hesitate to continue playing mas every year after! Why do you think food and drink are such an important part of Notting Hill Carnival? Our food and drinks represent us as people. Our dishes, like us, are a combination of influences from all of the different countries that settled in the Caribbean. Our food is as rich as our history and our culture. What is one food or drink that instantly transports you back to Trinidad? Why? I would say doubles. I have fond memories of grabbing a doubles on the go before early morning classes or even late at night after a fete. Nothing compares to standing at the doubles vendor in Trinidad, the sun beating down on you and just watching the beautiful people go by while enjoying a delicious doubles...
If you were introducing someone to Trinbagonian cuisine for the first time, what would be the first meal you make them?
I would probably do a Sunday lunch! Some creamy callaloo with that hint of coconut milk, stewed chicken or pork, rice, and some rich, cheesy macaroni pie. Maybe with a bit of plantain on the side. I’m getting myself terribly hungry here... Are there any unique food and/or drink combinations you can recommend?
This is a difficult one as there are so many unique combinations that we as Trinibagonians see as normal! I would, however, say that some condiments in particular compliment such a wide range of dishes that you would never think to serve it with. Things like the Mudda n Law Sweet and Spicy Tamarind Sauce and their Mango Chutney can be served on the side of most Trinibago dishes, adding that true homemade delicious flavour with a nice kick.