Ethnic Christmas Food: Pastelles

By Renee Sylvestre-Williams

So I'm not torn about celebrating Christmas. I just don't get religious about it. I'm more about the goodwill to all men/do I have to go to midnight mass because I really don't want to/I hate the mall/after working retail for five years Boxing Day is evil state of mind.

The food, on the other hand, makes me happy.

Every year we make pastelles for Christmas. It's an essential food item in the Christmas food repertoire along with sorrel and black cake.

What is a pastelle? The best way to describe it is a tamale. It's made with corn meal and stuffed with a mixture of meat, olives, raisins and capers. It's wrapped in a banana leaf and steamed. I like them because they're delicious, obviously and I like unwrapping them. They're like little food presents.

Making pastelles is a tedious process. This year my mother and I made almost 120 pastelles. It took us five hours, six if you include cleaning up.

Below are two videos that show you how to make pastelles, courtesy of my parents. I'm not going to put a recipe here because while the basic recipe is the same, every Trinidadian does it differently.