Wednesday, 7 August 2013

My country is being sold. And it’s really cheap too!

The other day I was wandering through the supermarket aisles and found this fruit called… Portugal.

This other Portugal (pronounced po-ti-gal) is a variety of clementine and it seems it is very enjoyed in TT because of its fragrance and the ease in peeling it (I’m sure the very affordable price is a plus). Also, like most (all?) of the citrus fruits it is rich in fibre, antioxidants and vitamin c.

In my home land the crisis is escalating; wages, pensions and aids are being cut; purchasing power is decreasing, strangling families; the austerity cuts are widely blamed for keeping Portugal in recession over the past two years; there’s been a wave of street protests; the treasury secretary quit only five weeks after he was brought into the government following the resignation of two senior ministers; public companies (everything from public broadcaster RTP to parts of the postal service, water utilities, energy utilities, state banks, the rail service and oil firm Galp) are being or will be sold to repay bailout loans; people started talking about calling a snap election.

I couldn’t refrain from buying a bag of Portugals and smiling at the irony. But it would be so much funnier if I had found Portugals being sold in Germany.

(Check here a Portugal chow recipe, trini way.)

Friday, 26 July 2013

Dietary discrepancies

Leeks! You know them, right?! Everybody does. Or so I thought.

Leeks are these very healthy vegetables that we use a lot in the Mediterranean cuisine. It is used in salads and sautés and as a main ingredient in soup. We grow on it just as much as on carrots or garlic. Actually, in Portuguese leeks is called “alho francês”, which literally translates to “French garlic” (though I see it more as an onion. And what’s with the French-speaking people and their pleasure to “register” veggies?! I mean look at exhibit B: Brussels sprouts...).

So I was happy to see leeks selling at my local supermarket and was willing to pay for them more than four times what I would have paid anywhere in my home country.

It was under the label “new item”. That should have warned me. Because when I got to the cashier there were like five people assembled to ask me: “What do you do with it?”. And because I’m so eloquent when it comes to being thus directly approached I answered: “I cook with it.”.

This was followed by a strange silence while I was visualizing banging my head on several hard surfaces. But after the moment’s recollection I stated that it is pretty common where I’m from and started to talk about the dishes that could be prepared with it. I even went as far as sharing that the white part is the tender one. Wow!

"What do you do with leeks?" Really?! Anyway, I guess it isn’t any different from me asking (to myself and I suppose that’s the main difference) what do one does with ochros. Or better yet carailee. What the…?! 


Friday, 12 July 2013

Do you have any idea what's the other local name for the rainy season?

Besides hurricane season (been there, made an unfortunate joke about that)... Indoor season. That's it. Need I say more?!

People tell me it actually is surprisingly mild, but I just arrived from a really wet spring and was hoping for a warm summer. I took the wrong plane!

Of course back home, folks think I'm running around in my bikini, drinking umbrella cocktails and splashing in the pool 24/7.

Now for another interesting fact (and the sixty-four-thousand-dollar question): when does the rainy season ends? December. You heard me. Five. More. Months.

I do need an umbrella. But not one made out of paper.

And I could have a drink or four. Just keep the darn parasol and let the gin flow.

Wednesday, 3 July 2013


According to Wikipedia (is it a trade mark? Should I insert the symbol here? A disclaimer? I’m calling out to all you bloggers out there to share the knowledge on the intricacies of online writing. Who am I kidding?! “All you bloggers out there”?... Puhlease! I’m lucky if my father should stop by.)… Anyway, according to Wikipedia (just consider inserted whatever I should have had to insert here), Trinidad and Tobago, trɪnɨdæd ən tɵˈbeɪɡoʊ/, officially the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, is an island country in the northern edge of South America, lying just off the coast of northeastern Venezuela and south of Grenada in the Lesser Antilles. (Blah, blah, blah) The country covers an area 5,128 square kilometers (1,980 sq. mi) and consists of two main islands, Trinidad and Tobago. (Something about Sangre Grande, the larger region in the country. Being familiar with the Spanish language, I’m aware that it translates to Big Blood. Odd!) The nation lies outside the hurricane belt. (I’m hoping the hurricane hasn’t been putting on weight since last year and that its waist line remains the same. It’s a lame joke. I’ve never been on a real crisis situation – in less than 24 hours the finance minister of my country resigned, followed by the minister of state and foreign affairs, but I’m in the sunny Caribbean, so you see what I mean… – and I apologize for it . From this point on I’ll just stick to the significant contents.)

The island of Trinidad was a Spanish colony from the arrival of Christopher Columbus in 1498 to the capitulation of the Spanish Governor, Don José Maria Chacón, on the arrival of a British fleet of 18 warships on 18 February 1797. During the same period, the island of Tobago changed hands among Spanish, British, French, Dutch and Courlander colonizers. Trinidad and Tobago (remaining separate until 1889) were ceded to Britain in 1802 under the Treaty of Amiens. The country Trinidad and Tobago obtained independence in 1962, becoming a republic in 1976. Unlike most of the English-speaking Caribbean, the country's economy is primarily industrial, with an emphasis on petroleum and petrochemicals.

(See, it was easy. But I’m sure you got curious about the “Courlander colonizers”, so I went to check it out for you. “Courland had a population of only 200,000, mostly of Latvian, German and Scandinavian ancestry, and was itself a vassal of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth at that time. The Couronian colonization of the Americas was performed by the Duchy of Courland, which was the smallest nation to colonize the Americas, with a colony on the island of Tobago from 1654 to 1659, and intermittently from 1660 to 1689.” I’ll skip the geography, geology, climate – suffice to say it is hot! –, biodiversity, and head straight to human history and the end of slavery, only to state:)

Upon emancipation, therefore, the plantation owners were in severe need of labor, and the British filled this need by instituting a system of indenture. Various nationalities were contracted under this system, including Chinese, Portuguese and Indians. (So, I’m hardly the first Portuguese to settle here. To this day Portuguese family names remain. But the Indians left a greater legacy. I thank them for the curry!)

Tuesday, 2 July 2013


Let me set it straight.

I take no responsibility for this. If you wish, blame it on my friends Cristina and Inês (I know I do!).

The first for always telling me how funny my writing is and reminding me of this episode that I texted several years ago where on my way to a wedding I tripped on the train platform, my bag opened and my underwear got all scattered in plain sight. I’m sure in all my embarrassment I wrote a tragedy, she found it quite comedic.

The latter for replying me several months ago also after receiving a text related with something that I experienced in a subway that I should just start a blog. My immediate reaction was to think that blogs are very 2005. I’m sure if I search the internet I’ll find blogging became popular way before 2005 (yes, it did. I just googled it.), but that year marks my first incursion to the blogosphere. I had just had a baby and I was longing for contact with the outside world. I accomplished one spectacular post before realizing that there were lots (I mean LOTS!) of baby blogs out there and leaving it to the other newly mothers.

From what I just shared, you can draw two conclusions. First, I’m quite the texting aficionada; and two, I use public transportation. I do text a lot, but never while driving because I don’t own a driver’s license (let’s not start on that subject just now) and I use many public transportations due to the aforementioned handicap (see top line) and because I come from a place where the public transport system works (despite all the recent cuts and complaints). And I like riding buses and subways with other people. Not the sweaty smell you’re sometimes showered with early in the morning (actually, showered with isn’t the best way of putting it because if those people showered there wouldn’t be a sweaty smell in the first place.), but there’s just so many things happening, so many characters and interaction or lack of it that I get easily distracted.

I especially like to watch teenagers to remind me just how stupid I used to be. The boys all doing the right stuff (which is obviously the wrong stuff, because they’re 15 and they’re guys), like ignoring the girls giving them the long lashed-cow eyes while pretending to go through their ipods. And the girls getting really loud if they’re with a group or cooing if they’re alone, seeking attention. It’s like watching animal behavior. Like a trip to the zoo only cheaper. I just can’t see it and smile and think that they are cute. Maybe because I feel like I grew out of it not that long ago (I’m convinced that my teenage years lasted until I was 25) and I like this superiority sense (which just goes to show that I might not be completely over it yet).

But I derive.

I decided to start this sort of diary because I moved. From Europe. To Trinidad and Tobago. From a non-English speaking country to a broken-English speaking country. From the home of fado to the birthplace of soca. And although I won’t be riding many public transports here I expect the transition to be filled with episodes and remarks that while not really comparable with teenagers’ behavior (nothing is), should be pretty interesting.

Also I'm growing bored and I need the practice in written English.