The Country Food Similarity Index is a statistically-based attempt to quantify how similar the food in one country is relative to another. By comparing the weight of raw food ingredients used in each country, a score is assigned that reflects the degree of similarity between the respective countries. The methodology is exactly the same for each country studied.
The Most Similar Cuisines to Trinidadian Food
Trinidad & Tobago’s cuisine is quite diverse, since it has been influenced by various groups, including Europeans, Indians, and West Africans. The five countries with the most similar food to Trinidad & Tobago are all tropical islands that were once British colonies before becoming independent. A high percentage of their people were brought to these islands as slaves or indentured servants.
- Barbados is another former British colony in the Caribbean. They share many culinary similarities, particularly in their love for fresh seafood and chicken. Both countries use fruity ingredients like coconut and bananas in their traditional dishes. Furthermore, like most European countries, wheat and potatoes are their most commonly eaten starches. Cou Cou, a dish made from cornmeal and okra, is popular in these nations too.
- Antigua & Barbuda is another group of islands in the Caribbean. Both countries feature a strong presence of seafood like lobster, conch, and saltfish. Additionally, both countries enjoy a variety of savory stews, incorporating ingredients such as pumpkin, eggplant, and cassava. However, Trinidad & Tobago’s cuisine has a much bigger Indian influence than Antigua & Barbuda.
- Mauritius is in the Indian Ocean, but it shares similar demographics and history with Trinidad and Tobago. In both countries, about half of the population has African ancestry, while the other half has Indian ancestry. The Indian cultural influence plays a significant role in both nations’ cuisines. As a result, curries are popular in both countries. Dholl Puri, a flatbread stuffed with lentils, bears similarities to Trinidad’s street food, Doubles.
- St. Lucia‘s cuisine also has many similarities to Trinidad & Tobago’s, especially in their use of tropical fruits and vegetables. Both countries embrace the rich flavors of coconut, ginger, and various spices. St. Lucia’s national dish, Green Fig and Saltfish, is similar to Trinidad’s Saltfish and Bake. Moreover, the love for hearty stews and soups featuring local produce is evident in both countries’ food cultures.
- Seychelles is another country in the Indian Ocean on this list. It also has a harmonious blend of African, Indian, and European influences. Seychellois dishes like Octopus Curry and Grilled Fish share a kinship with Trinidad’s seafood-based meals. The use of tropical fruits and coconut is another common thread that ties the two countries together.
The Least Similar Cuisines to Trinidadian Food
Due to its diverse culinary influences, relatively few countries have food that is far different from Trinidad & Tobago’s. Nevertheless, four of the five countries with the least similar food to the country are located in Africa. In stark contrast to Trinidad & Tobago, these four countries are landlocked as well.
- South Sudan is a landlocked country in Africa. Cassava accounts for the largest part of the country’s diet, however South Sudanese eat their share of sorghum as well. Beef is the most commonly consumed meat in the South Sudan, while pelagic fish and chicken are more popular in Trinidad & Tobago.
- Chad is country that borders Sudan. Sorghum and millet are the two most commonly consumed grains there. These crops are well adapted to the Sahel’s harsh climate. Beef is the most popular meat, but lamb meat is also often eaten there. Peanuts and sesame seeds are also commonly parts of their cuisine.
- Central African Republic is located directly to the south of Chad. It is another French-speaking country in Africa on this list. Cassava and yam are two of the most commonly eaten staple ingredients in the country. Its food reflects the culinary traditions of various ethnic groups, such as the Baya, Banda, and Sango, among others.
- Niger is located in the Sahel region of Africa. It has an extremely dry climate, in contrast to Trinidad & Tobago. Its two most common staple foods are millet and sorghum, two grains that are rarely consumed in Trinidad. Some traditional dishes in Niger include tuwo, a porridge made from millet or sorghum, and dambunama, a dish made from millet, vegetables, and meat.
- Cambodia is the only country in Asia on this list. The Cambodian diet is heavily based in rice and cassava. Unlike in Trinidad & Tobago, Cambodian cuisine makes use lemongrass, galangal, and kaffir lime leaves, to create a unique flavor profile. Furthermore, many of the country’s Buddhists avoid eating meat.
Trinidad & Tobago’s Most Common Food Ingredients
Protein: Chicken, Pelagic Fish
Fruit: Coconut, Banana
Vegetable: Onion, Carrot
Starch: Wheat, Potato
Primarily based on 2020 data from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the U.N.