Trinidad Charlie's Hot Pepper Sauce
THIS GARDEN EARTH
Luckily, I would often find bird peppers through the bush when I worked as a bonded line cutter for surveyor Vern Robinson (I will never forget the blisters on my hands). These bird peppers were of two types: one small and round like a berry, which had a fiery taste that did not last long; the other (chiltepin) had erect red fruits, 1-3 inches long and very pungent - a pepper that all peppers originated from, and a taste comparable to none. The bird pepper grows wild and needs no help from humans to proliferate. These wild peppers grow in many different locales, but have one thing in common - an association with birds - who eat them and then spread the seeds by excreting them in their travels. I started making my own hot sauces with strictly bird peppers, and then moved on to the habaneros and scotch bonnet peppers. I still add bird peppers, when available, to my present sauces.
I remember getting a 20-foot container of assorted spices, curry powder, massalas, turmeric, geera, kuchelas and pepper sauces from Trinidad in 1988. This grand experiment turned out to be a huge disaster (Another sory for another time). It was way before its time and today, some 15 years later, would still be so. I then decided to stick with what I had been doing before - to grow my own hot peppers and manufacture pepper sauce on my farm. Trinidad Charlie's Original Hot Sauce is ethnic, authentic and truly original. The spices used are of East Indian, Asian and Caribbean origin; this concoction makes for a very flavorable sauce. The papayas used are organically grown on my farm and the sea salt collected from St. John salt ponds. I learned over the years that heat is not always best, but taste is of utter importance - so I concentrated on flavors.
The responses I have gotten from those who have my sauce is very encouraging. Apart from my outlets in St. John, St. Thomas and St. Croix, I ship worldwide - the mainland, Australia, the Czech Republics, Alaska, and Japan, to name a few destinations.
My new "West Indian Pumpkin Hot Sauce" is a traditional recipe deriving from a Pumpkin Talkari (mixed vegetables) popular with the East Indian community in Trinidad. The recipe is almost the same but in a pureed form. The pumpkin is grown on my farm, along with the secret ingredient. Roasted cumin (geera) gives it a special taste. The assortment of spices complement one another. These sauces are of an Ayruvedic nature and all natural and organically blended.
My last visit to Trinidad was extra special. I spent some time with my aunt and uncle, Stella and Anslem Ramkisson. Aunt Stella was preparing some delightful Indian dishes, accompanied by the sounds of Indian music and smell of fragrant spices, while sharing with me some of her special spices and ingredients used in her cooking. Her tamarind chutney was exceptional. I brought some back to the V.I. with me and it was gone in no time. My Stateside friends demanded more.
I believe that Trinidad Charlie's Sauces are so diverse that they can complement almost any dish - soups, stews, dips and marinades, even scrambled eggs and Bloody Mary's. I also have a limited selection of other products: Key Lime Hot Sauce, Lime Pickle and Mango Hot Sauce. The key limes and mangoes are organically grown on the farm and the sauces are only available in season.
My philosophy is that quality must be the top priority and that when a produce gets too commercialized the quality often drops. I consider my sauces to be specialty sauces and of gourmet quality.
The late John Gibney presented me with a book, "Peppers of the World," for my birthday one year, inscribed with the following:
To Very Real Hot Charles on his birthday:
Like I said, "bottled with love on St. John."
Pepper Sauce Links:
Trinidad Charlie in New Kenny Chesney Song
Read Kenny Chesney's Island Soul By Dave Herndon Caribbean Travel & Life where Kenny Chesney talks about Trinidad Charlie
Peppers (by Charlie Deyalsingh AKA Trinidad Charlie)