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Food fusion brings cultures together - Double chouble
“What do you call Chinese doubles?” This was the question Russell Aching asked his friends when he first got the idea for Chinese doubles nearly two years ago. The answer was, of course, choubles. Choubles is just one example of the evolution of doubles, the popular street food that has now surpassed its Indian origins to become a truly Trini phenomenon.
Aching and his wife, Joelle Bellemare-Aching, head up the advertising agency Saga Studios. During an interview at their offices in Diego Martin on Monday, Aching explained that choubles was an extension of the creative projects produced by Saga Studios.
“We do a lot of out-of-the-box creative stuff for our clients and we wanted to develop a strategy to show just how creative we could be,” he said. “This was a project to prove a point.”
Among the points Aching wanted to prove were that Trinidadians need to think out of the box and also that you don’t need a lot of money to start a business.
The idea for choubles, however, has now attained a life of its own. The couple sees choubles as not only patriotic but an expression of cultural diversity. Bellemare-Aching said the creation of choubles represented the couple’s passion for unity.
“We are always dismayed at the disunity in T&T and by negative race talk. This fusion of foods, of cultures, really, gives us something beautiful and different. You have East Indian, Chinese, Trini, all coming together,” she said.
Bellemare-Aching’s declaration is not far from the truth. Dr Kumar Mahabir, author of Caribbean East Indian Recipes, said doubles has moved from Indian delicacy to national dish. In a telephone interview with the T&T Guardian on Monday, Mahabir said doubles originated in the rural areas of south Trinidad. The story of double is one all too familiar, he said. “They used to sell the bara separate from the channa. And legend has it that somebody wanted two so they made it a sandwich and that’s how it became doubles,” he said.
Choubles and other doubles variations such as gourmet doubles are the continuing evolution of culture, added Mahabir. Some doubles vendors are now putting ingredients other than channa in their doubles as well. Gourmet doubles include meats like chicken, lamb and even alligator. Other vendors put various vegetables and pineapple in the doubles.
However, Mahabir said meat-filled doubles are still catching on and not widespread.
At the end of it all, whether gourmet, choubles or plain doubles, it’s the camaraderie that really endears Trinidadians to the food. “Trinis also like the social interaction of being at the doubles stand—talking to the vendor, getting to see your partners.
“It’s very much a part of our culture,” said Bellemare-Aching.
What kinda chouble is this?
Choubles are different to doubles for a few reasons. Firstly, instead of the common bara, choubles use bing. Bing is a Chinese bread also used in street food in China.
At the Choubles spot on the corner of Petra Street and Ariapita Avenue, Woodbrook, bing is made fresh on a grill using sesame seed oil and seeds and scallions.
The channa filling is curried but infused with a blend of Chinese spices. If you want “double chouble,” you can add egg or Chinese-style chicken.
Choubles are sold on Fridays and Saturdays from 6 pm.
If you want to find out more about choubles, find them on Facebook: Saga Studios.
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