Saturday, February 20, 2010

Nice Surprise

I just found out that my co-op, Artists' Gallery, is featured in the "Quick Sketches" section of American Artist magazine. We are celebrating our 15th year, and it was nice to see the page with some of our artists' work published. I was among the artwork included, "Reed Song" is a watercolor of a Red-winged blackbird I spotted in Cape May, NJ. I look forward to hearing these wonderful birds in the spring, the sound always feels hopeful and a sign of nicer weather to come.

"Reed Song" © Beatrice Bork

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Happy Carnival!

This is a watercolor painting of a bird I find suited for carnival, although it is very small, it has all the adornments needed to stand-out! It is a male tufted-coquette, which is the smallest hummingbird in Trinidad, that I had seen on one of my trips to the island.

"King of Carnival" © Beatrice Bork

Monday, February 15, 2010

Trinidad: part 3: People and Culture

Trinidad and Tobago are a twin island nation, being occupied by Spanish, French, English and by 1962 finally became an independent nation. It is very diverse culturally, with the majority of the people having an Indian or African ancestry. There is a wide variety of religion practiced here from Catholic to Hindu to Muslim to Rastafarian and more, although I'm sure there are differences in opinions, they seem to make it work. For more history and other info., click here.

I find the people here wonderful, most will greet you with a Good Morning, (or Good Day, Afternoon, Evening or Night, sometimes I get confused as to which occurs at what time). The language is English, with their own unique Caribbean twist, with a lovely melodic flow, easy to listen to. When speaking quickly I admit to not totally understanding, but the more I visit the easier it is. Click here for a link to a trini dictionary.

Trinidad is very well known for Carnival, and Calypso music, I am partial to Soca. I was pleased to see a steel pan performance on my recent trip as they were competing for the upcoming Carnival. It is said that steel pan originated in Trinidad, starting with African Drums, that were outlawed by the occupiers, then came "Tamboo bamboo" a sort of drum constructed with bamboo, then the steel drums made from barrels, and in time crafted into the beautiful musical instruments used today. Nothing is quite like steel pan!

Happy Carnival!

Photo of "Arima Allstars" at competition this year.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Trinidad part 2: The food

The food! A mix of all cultures, mostly Indian, African and Chinese. First the local market, what can I say, when you look around the food becomes it's own art, such a beautiful array of color and texture. There are many familiar and not so familiar items here... and even if you think you know what it is, it may have a different name. If you ask for a fig, don't be surprised when you get a banana... or christophene is a fruit we get here called a chayote... cilantro is chado bene, which is actually Mexican cilantro. They have mangoes, I had no idea there were so many, over 25 different kinds?! I had a starch mango that was unbelievable, it tasted more like a mango smoothie! Among the many fruits and veggies are a lot of spices and different types of hot sauces available here as well.

For breakfast, I look forward to Doubles with slight pepper (a wonderful chickpea and fry bake combination) so simple, so delicious, then a nice coconut water... imagine finding a vendor in NYC with a stand of fresh off-the-palm, yellow and green coconuts, ready to cut one open for you. It is cut with precision by machete, making a small whole in the top to drink from, (they have straws for novices like me) that will cool you down, and pick you up!

They have the fast food chains that a lot of us are familiar with, but when there I like to indulge in the local food, which actually includes a spicy version of KFC that I wish they would bring to the US. Other tasty items include: dosti roti or bussup shot with curry chicken, or stew chicken, potato salad and mango masala... calaloo (dasheen [tarro leaves], ochre, smoked meat, and sometimes crab), dahl, crab and dumplings, pelau (rice dish), the world famous shark and bake... and so much more!

Photo © Beatrice Bork, Arima market, Trinidad