'Out of this world'

A woman buys some of the unique dishes at Blue Food Festival on Sunday.  - Division of Tourism & Culture
A woman buys some of the unique dishes at Blue Food Festival on Sunday. - Division of Tourism & Culture

Despite intermittent rain on Sunday, hundreds of people turned up for the 21st edition of the Blue Food Festival at Bloody Bay Recreation Ground.

The annual festival, Tobago's leading culinary event, highlights the versatility of the dasheen, one of the island's main staples.

As has been the case over the years, patrons continue to be amazed by the variety of dishes, treats and beverages that can be made from the dasheen.

Tourists John Shultz and his wife, Grace, of the United Kingdom, regular visitors to the island, said they attended the event for the first time last year and vowed to return.

"It is really fascinating the many things people on the island can create with the dasheen. I mean that is something so unique – ice cream and cake. I would have never thought those things could be possible," said Grace, as she savoured a scoop from a cup of ice cream.

The couple said they plan to tell their friends in the UK about the experience.

A first-time visitor to Tobago, Englishman Jonathan Swenson, said he had heard about the festival from a friend in the UK and decided to make the trip.

"I have no regrets about what I am experiencing. It is simply out of this world," he said.

Like the Shultz couple, Swenson also was fascinated with the dasheen ice cream.

Trinidadians, many of whom belonged to sporting, business and cultural organisations, also came out in their numbers to enjoy the keenly-anticipated event.

This year, patrons got the chance to savour delicacies and drinks from some 21 booths.

Apart from the usual favourites, dasheen fruit cake, dasheen sweetbread, dasheen sponge cake, dasheen ice cream, dasheen pizza, dasheen buss up shut and dasheen pone, visitors could also sample kurma, fudge, pholourie, chocolate chip cookies, butter pecans, anchar and pepper. A variety of dasheen wines and liqueurs was also on display. One booth even had the perennial Christmas favourite ponche de crème, made from dasheen.

The wild meat and ground provision booths were a major attraction for locals and foreigners alike.

A man enjoys a meal at Blue Food Festival on Sunday. - Division of Tourism & Culture

The flow of traffic to the venue was relatively smooth. Patrons were required to park at a specified location along the Bloody Bay Road, then escorted to the recreation ground via a shuttle service.

The festival, which was scheduled to begin at 9 am, got off to a slightly late start, but by 1 pm, it was in full swing.

Calypsonian Michael Baker, known for the nation-building song Come Discover Both of Us, hosted the cultural segment of the festival, which featured performances by a variety of artistes. Among them were venerable entertainer David Rudder, calypsonian Prince Unique (Jeffrey Thomas), the TT Police Band and singers Leslie-Ann Ellis, Sanelle Dempster and Adanna Roberts. Rudder, still able to command an audience, sang several of his classics, including Calypso Music, Bahia Girl, Hammer and High Mas.

Roberts, of Bon Accord, delivered an exhilarating performance. She sang Love The Skin I'm In, Doh Tote, Flower and several of this year's soca hits, including Nadia Batson's So Long and Farmer Nappy's (Darryl Henry's) Hookin Meh.

Among those attending the festival were Tobago MPs Ayanna Webster-Roy and Shamfa Cudjoe, Tobago House of Assembly Chief Secretary Kelvin Charles and his wife, Catherine, Secretary for Tourism, Culture and Transportation Nadine Stewart-Phillips and Tobago Tourism Agency Ltd CEO Louis Lewis.

An organiser told Newsday the villages of L'Anse Fourmi/Parlatuvier/Bloody Bay started the festival in 1998.

"The dasheen is grown in this area so they call this area dasheen king," he said.

"In this festival, you get all kinds of ground provisions, with dasheen being prominent. So you get dasheen wine, cake, anything you could make from dasheen."

Chief Secretary Kelvin Charles, left, chats with one of the chefs at the annual Blue Food Festival at Bloody Bay Recreation Ground on Sunday. - Division of Tourism & Culture

The organiser said the event is significant to Tobago because it promotes the growth of small businesses.

"Plenty micro-businesses have come out of the Blue Food Festival. People have started food businesses and have also done wines and liqueurs for sale. They have their products in supermarkets."

He said the festival brings thousands of people, including foreigners.

"Because of the proximity to Castara, which is a place plenty of Europeans come and stay, they tend to, by word of mouth, spread the word of the food festival."


"‘Out of this world’"

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