Pastelles are a traditional delicacy during the Christmas season in Trinidad even though they are also consumed at other times throughout the year. Although widely found around the Caribbean, pastelles actually originated in Venezuela.
Typically, pastelles are made from cornmeal that is steamed and filled with meat and other ingredients, such as olives and raisins, then wrapped in banana leaves. Throughout the years, pastelles have taken on many variations as the tastes of the public have changed; they have taken on the names of chicken, fish, vegetarian and soya pastelles with flour rather than cornmeal used. Locals would not call these versions pastelles as their beloved original is made strictly with cornmeal and stuffed with minced beef. No matter how the pastelles are made, the crucial step that stays the same is wrapping them in banana leaves, which have been lightly placed over an open fire to reduce stiffness. Twine is tied like a bow around the wrapped pastelles to keep the banana leaves in place while boiling.
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