The Irresistible Joy of Doubles
Celebrating a vegan delicacy that has satisfied from the markets of Trinidad and Tobago to a storefront in Brooklyn
The market opens early in the morning. I wasn’t certain when, so around 6:30am, I hailed a taxi on the main road and hopped in for a relaxed ride from Couva to Chaguanas market. Held close on my arm was one of Ma’s many colorful market bags; this one she only uses for carrying vegetables. Inside was my mobile and cash to buy ingredients like hot-peppers and garlic for homemade pepper sauce; Ma promised to make me some to “take back up,” as my trip home was coming to an end and I would be making my way back to New Jersey in just a couple of days.
It may have been too early that Friday morning for market-goers to check off a full list of fresh produce as vendors were still setting up piles of washed lettuce, white and green marbled cucumbers, large whole and perfectly sliced pumpkins (an essential for Sunday lunch callaloo), and more produce reaped from their own fields or bought from other producers for resale.
Some vendors were also having breakfast as they took short breaks between unloading crates and uncovering selling tables in the public market. They’d sip from small hot Styrofoam cups of milky black tea or instant coffee to wash down their doubles. Still, greasy lips would quickly catch the walking customer saying “whatever yuh looking for, I have it right here”.
The true reason I traveled to the market was for a breakfast of the country’s most popular street food. The Doubles man — their presence needing no bright neon signage or rehearsed haggling as they are never hard to locate. Even in between the stalls of ground provision, seasonal tropical fruit, and bundles of fresh herbs that lined the market area, returning customers can easily spot them.
The white food boxes on steel standing carts; their thin white work shirts that would remain spotless, and white caps to cover bowed heads as their fast hands assembled and wrapped many a doubles. Agile and methodical, quick hands dip spoons in and out of the…