"Slight pepper… eating here!" The doubles man is swift on the draw, slapping bara and channa together ready to meet his customer's requirements.
Customer asks, "Yuh have change for $100?"
Another customer shouts, "Oh gosh, don't say change so loud; when Tobagonians hear change they does get vex (a joke about the outcome in the recent Tobago House of Assembly elections).
This is the typical "ole talk" when Trinis gather at a doubles stand.
Depending on where you get your doubles, a doubles stand is not only a place where you can quickly satisfy your hunger pangs and cravings; it's also a place where you are entertained with friendly banter and picong.
Topics range from politics to SuperBlue's return to the soca fray and sexy shorts at Fire Fete and whatever else is in the newspaper headlines.
Doubles is a part of the everyday lifestyle of the average Trini. The Express continues its Carnival street food series with one of the most sought-after street delicacies in the country—doubles, of course.
Doubles is revered in Trinidad and to prove the precedence of the delicacy there is even a smartphone app to guide you to where you can find "good doubles"—whether it's outside Long Circular Mall in St James; the popular Sauce Doubles in Curepe; the four fellas alongside their granny on Chacon Street, Port of Spain; Aranjuez; Debe; in Diego Martin in front Starlite Shopping Centre; St James; George's by Brooklyn Bar in Woodbrook; the three or four vendors on the Brian Lara Promenade; Ali's in Barataria; Marabella; Arima, Tunapuna outside Food Masters Supermarket; UWI; Piarco Airport or Ariapita Avenue, doubles can be easily found at virtually every roadside corner, in every town, city or village around the island. Within recent years it's a staple in various Carnival fetes and all-inclusive parties.
Most Trinis have a favourite doubles vendor—they are sought after for breakfast, lunch or an evening-lime snack and most doubles aficionados would tell you it is best served with a red Solo (soft drink).
A doubles is made up of two baras (fried flat dough) between which are
placed some lightly curried channa, a small spoonful of one or more chutneys, a choice of chadon beni, mango, tamarind, pommecythere, cucumber or coconut.
Just as fashion and technology evolve, food also goes through its phases—there is now a new variety of doubles to choose from.
Besides channa, you can have your choice of meats—chicken, goat, beef and whatever else some vendors have available. While these "meat" doubles are gaining popularity, it's an option offered only at a few doubles vendors.
Shawn Sadd Nagim, who operates the popular Chatter Box Doubles on Chacon Street in Port of Spain, said while he doesn't mind the evolution of doubles, he said a doubles with meat is definitely not a doubles. "That is a mini roti. You can't call that doubles. I don't mind the creativity but then don't call it a doubles," Nagim said.
Nagim doesn't intend to offer meat choices to his customers. "We operate strictly vegetarian; that won't change," he said. For over a decade, Nagim has created a name for himself with the family-run business, gaining the trust and respect of customers from far and wide. His friendly customer service, personality and silky bara combined are what his customers look forward to.
Doubles vendors are definitely a group of hard-working individuals.
Ten years ago Nagim took over the business from his father, who is no longer able to work.
Nagim said the business has come a long way, from humble beginnings. "The business grew a lot. My father used to sell from a small box but we sort of modernise everything. Selling doubles is a lot of work. When people sleeping, we working," Nagim said.
Nagim also sells doubles at Aranjuez Savannah (opposite Fitness Planet Gym). His services are also sought after for various all-inclusive Carnival parties and other functions. He has become known for his famous dragon sauce, a very hot pepper sauce that you would want to go easy on.
Tips to ensure you enjoy
1. No spoons or forks necessary
2. If you are pepper intolerant, insist that your doubles vendor only puts slight pepper or no pepper at all.
3. Feel free to ask for chutney—your doubles vendor should have a couple of them available.
4. Eat your doubles hot…a cold doubles is punishment
5. Eat your doubles standing by the doubles stand, simply because it's a better experience. Don't take it away unless you absolutely have to.
6. Make sure your doubles vendor is tidy-looking… clean clothing, clean fingernails, hair covered.
7. Make sure your surroundings are sanitary.
8. Don't worry about getting your hands messy.
9. Make sure there is water available to wash your hands before and after eating your doubles
10. After eating your doubles don't walk off without paying your doubles vendor.