It’s been suggested to me on occasion that Uncommon Caribbean, for all its flash and flavor, is really just one big open love letter to our mom. Her name was Marlene, and as some of you may recall, she used to make the very best roti on the planet.
Mom passed away just after my 16th birthday. I miss her a little bit every day no matter where I am, but when I’m in her home country of Trinidad & Tobago, as Patrick and I just were last month, the emotions are always a touch or two stronger. On this latest trip, those strong emotions were elevated even further when we happened upon this quaint and colorful roadside shack.
It’s impossible not to pass Marlene’s Roti Shop as you maneuver the marginally steep and windy road that descends into Speyside, the tiny seaside town at Tobago’s extreme northwestern edge. For me, mere sight of the sign recalled memories of mom’s magic in the kitchen, a more detailed account of which you can read here. As kids, we often encouraged her to open her own bakery and roti shop saying there was no surer way for her to make millions and live her dream of taking a cruise around the world.
We truly believed this, of course, as mom’s roti was (and remains, at least in my memory) absolutely without compare. We also had ulterior motives, though, as a shop would give us kids the opportunity to enjoy our favorite food more often than the special occasions to which our childhood roti enjoyment was confined.
Mom never opened a roti shop, but if she did I’d like to think it would mirror this Marlene’s in some ways. Bright, cheerful and perched at a nice elevation to benefit from the breeze, Marlene’s offers a nice view of the sea and a few smaller surrounding islands just offshore – a view I’m sure mom would love.
Sadly, I didn’t get a taste of the roti treats served up at Marlene’s in Speyside. It was closed when we happened by, though reviews I’ve read around the web suggest it would be worth my while to make a return visit. I’m guessing that mom would approve of another try, even if only to have me back in her home country enjoying the world’s best food and celebrating just how special she really was…
Have you been to Marlene’s Roti Shop? If so, what did you think of it? Let us know in the comments section below.