Tobago Blue Food Festival

As any chef will tell you the colour blue does not make food look appetising. Food stylists true to avoid featuring food that is served on blue plates, or with blue backgrounds for the same reason. Blue is not considered mouth-watering, except on the island of Tobago, where they hold an annual Blue Food Festival.

The blue food is caused by a local root vegetable called a dasheen, a plant that is similar to taro and which has leaves that look similar to a palm leaf but when the tuber is peeled, sliced and boiled takes on a bluish tinge.

Dasheen is the main ingredient of a popular local dish called Callaroo. This is a type of stew which includes coconut milk, pumpkin okra and various herbs and spices. It is usually served as an accompaniment to crab or pig tail.

Tobago is part of the Caribbean country of Trinidad and Tobago which has been independent for fifty years. The Blue Food Festival is held in a coastal village called Bloody Bay.

The Blue Food Festival has grown from a modest street-side event in the nearby town of L’Anse Fourmi to a fair that attracts thousands of visitors. The Festival has been nurtured to become a much-anticipated fixture on Tobago’s event calendar. Locals and foreigners make the trek to Bloody Bay annually to sample innovative entrees, inventive appetizers, creative desserts, and robust liqueurs made from the popular ground provision.

Cooks from the three local villages of Bloody Bay, L’Anse Fourmi and Parlatuvier compete in several categories, including best overall dasheen dish, most creative dasheen dish, best dasheen dessert, and best dasheen beverage.

Given its name, Bloody Bay sounds like it must be an horrific place to visit but it is, in fact, the very opposite, being a charming sheltered bay with golden sands and warm, azure-blue waters. Apparently it was given its name to honour a nearby naval battle which occurred in 1666 when the English fleet destroyed a combined Dutch and French fleet in their battle for control of the Caribbean.

The hinterland behind the bay is comprised of lush rainforest, and the neighbouring inlet is called Dead Bay, which was where many of the bodies from the naval battle were washed up, and which you can only access by boat or by foot.

Given that Trinidad and Tobagans really know how to party, especially during their mardi gras, the Blue Food Festival is a real hoot for which the competitors take it all seriously, but otherwise the festival provides an opportunity to just go along and have an excellent time.

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