Taste of the Caribbean: Discovering (and naming) Rubbles, the New to Me Street Food in Trinidad
Trinidad is the unquestioned “Street Food Capital of the Caribbean” in my completely biased opinion, with the always bustling (and shady to some) Port-of-Spain neighborhood of St. James serving as the epicenter of the flavor-filled fun. I haven’t been lucky enough to visit the area as much as I would’ve liked over the years, but every time I do I leave full, fulfilled, and happy.
On my latest such visit this past April, I also left surprised courtesy of the delights being served up by the ladies pictured above and below.
It was just before 8pm on the corner of somewhere and Ariapita Avenue. My brother Patrick and I were en route to the Hyatt Regency Trinidad with our Dad to meet some family friends for a drink and a quick bite. The delicious aromas emanating from the sidewalk stand where these fine ladies were cooking, though, compelled us to stop.
They appeared to be making roti, our all-time favorite food, so of course we purchased our share. Upon closer inspection when it came time to chow down, though, we found that we had something different. Something less.
Not in quality, mind you, but in size. What we’d purchased and later enjoyed, I’d soon come to know, were “mini roti’s.” Or, at least that’s what our Dad calls ’em.
It’s a small roti; a mini roti. Different people do it differently, but generally the bread is not as big.
Not only that, but there’s a lot less “stuff” stuffed inside. No potato, for instance, and a lot less meat than I’m used to. Definitely no veggies, unless, I suppose, you’re opting for the veggie mini.
In truth, the thing seemed more like a doubles masquerading as, or aspiring to be a roti. I mean, it was getting there, but it was not quite there.
Delicious, yes. Perfect, not too doughy roti skin, yes. Spicy curry, yes. Some meat, yes. Chick peas, yes. Real roti, no.
Such a special dish, a veritable hybrid seamlessly blending two of our favorite edible anythings – doubles and roti – begged for its own name. Mini roti just didn’t cut it for me. Small roti felt even worse; almost demeaning.
No, this was a proud Trini street food all its own; one especially suited for the tail end of the late nights along Ariapita when you just need a little something in your stomach to help you get home.
We settled on the name “Rubbles,” a mash-up of roti and doubles that rolls off the tongue with the same kind of smile these little treats will put on your face whenever you bite into ’em.
Look for them on Ariapita and elsewhere around Trinidad & Tobago whenever you’re hungry and moving around the streets.