“Take two flatbreads known as bara, fill them up with curried channa (chickpeas) and stir in 1.3 million multi-ethnic, diverse, colorful people and you can enjoy the snack-sized sandwich we call doubles – one of the many foods which are indigenous to and part of the national cuisine of the twin-island Republic of Trinidad and Tobago.”
(Excerpt from a letter of support from Acting Consul General Kiva P. Clarke.)
It was a hoTT day in TO as Trinis and lovers of T&T culture congregated at A Different Booklist for a back-o-yard lime to launch T&T Doubles Day, hence forth to be celebrated on May 30, Indian Arrival Day in Trinidad and Tobago.
Generously donated by next-door neighbour Caribbean Roti Palace, a bellyful of doubles was feasted upon by attendees, liberally garnished by no fewer than five spicy jazz-ups – coconut chutney, mango kuchela, tambran sauce, lime pepper and cucumber with plenty of bhandania, tangy, citrusy parlour juice, with Trini dinner mints available to cool mouths on fire.
Trini author Badru Deen came from Miami to read excerpts from his poignant memoir Out of the Doubles Kitchen, the biography of his parents who were pioneering purveyors of channa / barba in Princes Town. The book is also an autobiography chronicling his outward and upward trajectory from Trinidad to Canada (from where most of the channa and wheat flour comes to produce T&T doubles).
Also in attendance, flying in from New York, was film-maker Ian Harnarine, director of Doubles with Slight Pepper of TIFF fame, filmed entirely on location in Trinidad but work-shopped at the Caribbean Tales Film Festival Incubator in Toronto. Harnarine was also fortunate to have been mentored by African-American film-maker Spike Lee.
Trini actor Susan Hannays-Abraham, star of the film, was on hand to serve doubles.
After book purchases and book signings by Deen, the crescendo of the evening was the Humming Bird Tassa Band in its third generation of the extended Doon Family, calling in the ancestors from the yard through the shop and onto Bathurst Street to the amazement and delight of TTC commuters and random passersby, several of whom joined the lime and were introduced to the delights of Trini’s best street-eats.
Next up: a fleet of food trucks offering up tasty Trin-Indian treats – especially doubles.