CHARLES KONG SOO
When you see authentic Guyanese egg balls, white and black pudding on James the Pie Man’s table on Independence Square one can easily mistake the location for a busy street corner in his homeland of Guyana, where those two most iconic street foods can be found.
He brings some of Guyana’s rich food culture to Trinidadians, his countrymen and foodies alike at his location on the Brian Lara Promenade, opposite the Capt Arthur Cipriani statue, near the unofficial Diego Martin taxi stand.
Commuters, people from all walks of life, school children, motorists, and taxi drivers all stop to buy from Monday to Saturday. Apart from egg balls and pudding, he sells a wide selection of delicious pies and genuine mango sour/chutney.
Egg balls and white and black pudding are quintessential Guyanese snack foods and are sold by many vendors in the South American country.
The popular Guyanese snacks take skill to make and James, who only gave his first name, has mastered the culinary techniques. He is assisted sometimes by his wife and son.
When the Sunday Guardian visited James on the Promenade, the interview was conducted with intermittent breaks for the popular vendor to serve his steady stream of customers.
James said “Egg ball can be described as the healthier Guyanese version of the English Scotch egg, their boiled egg is wrapped in sausage meat, coated in breadcrumbs and then baked or deep-fried.
“The Guyanese egg ball uses seasoned cassava to wrap around the boiled egg, then deep fried until golden brown, and a good chef makes sure that the cassava is soft, tasty and melts in your mouth while the egg is not overcooked.
“White pudding originated in Ireland, Scotland, then spread to Great Britain. Guyanese made white pudding their own, and instead of using oatmeal or breadcrumbs, we use rice, seasoned with a lot of fresh herbs like big and small leaf thyme, and sometimes onion.
“Another difference between Guyanese pudding and Trinidad pudding is that it does not include blood; coconut milk is substituted for the blood, it’s cut up and served with mango sour (chutney) that is paired with most Guyanese street food and is real nice.”
He said Martinique also has its version of white and black pudding, called Boudin Blanc and Boudin Creole that uses what the country has in abundance; seafood.
James said that the Martiniquan white sausage is made without blood and is stuffed with either prawns, crabs, conch, fish or vegetables while the Boudin Creole is similar to the Trinidadian black pudding made from pork, pig’s blood, onion, breadcrumbs and herbs.
He learned to make egg balls, white and black pudding and pies from home economics school, and the family used to have a cook shop run by his uncle in Kitty in Georgetown, Guyana.
While many vendors raised their prices long before the latest increase in flour and other ingredients, James only recently raised his pie prices from $5 to $6. However, sometimes he has specials on his pies for people who are ‘short’ on cash or hard up, children and when it’s getting late.
James said that he tried to make a small profit as he is aware that people are struggling and he tries to put himself in their shoes.
Regarding the crackdown on vending in the city, he said that he was out there on the streets selling his products for several years. He wished that Port-of-Spain Mayor Joel Martinez could regularise most vendors willing to pay a minimal fee to be able to sell in the city as he believes that they can assist in keeping the capital clean.
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