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Touring the islands, on two feet: Little Caribbean crawl offers dose of region’s flavor

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Photo gallery

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Cultural immersion: The owner of Jen’s Roti Shop explained the origins of her business to the group.
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Trinidadian classic: The Flatbush Avenue shop that specializes in West Indian roti was one of 10 stops on the walking tour.
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Sweet paradise: Tour participants glimpsed a variety of popular Guyanese pastries during their visit to Island Express, also on Flatbush Avenue.
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Soup for you: One of the excursion’s first stops was a visit with Trinidadian native Alexander, who served a homemade, traditional corn soup to attendees.
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Caribbean eats: Outside of tour stop Island Express.

They took a big bite out of this little district!

A group of culturally curious explorers hit the streets of Little Caribbean in parts of Prospect-Lefferts Gardens and Flatbush for a taste of what some local businesses are serving up in the area.

The attractions featured in the April 7 “Little Caribbean Food and Culture Crawl” thrilled participants so much that its organizer extended the excursion well beyond the event’s planned two-hour time limit, she said.

“It turned out to be a four hours,” said Shelley Worrell, the head of cultural group Caribbeing, who led the tour.

Worrell and roughly 25 attendees began their journey at Kings Theatre before visiting 10 businesses located within the cultural district, which includes Flatbush Avenue between Empire Boulevard and Nostrand Avenue, Church Avenue between Flatbush and New York avenues, and Nostrand Avenue between Flatbush Avenue and Empire Boulevard.

Some shopkeepers — who included several restaurateurs as well as the owner of a Caribbean record store and the leader of a mas camp — served the guests food and drinks, Worrell said, while others shared how they started their businesses and their immigrant stories.

Worrell — who spearheaded the initiative to name the area as Little Caribbean — led two similar tours last winter after the enclave’s September designation, and said she plans to host them monthly going forward, setting the next event for May 12.

Past crawls drew locals as well as tourists from such faraway destinations as Long Island, upstate New York, and New Jersey, she said, with some participants returning for a second time after their first trek left them wanting more.

“There were a lot of people on this particular tour who came back with friends and family,” Worrell said.

The walking tours even appeal to longtime Caribbeans, according to the organizer, who said the most recent excursion introduced a Jamaican woman to the cuisine of another island in the region.

“She didn’t know what ‘doubles’ were and it was a very interesting interaction,” Worrell said, referring to the Trinidadian street food made with flat bread and curried chickpeas.

Join the next Little Caribbean Food and Culture Crawl kicking off at Kings Theatre [1027 Flatbush Ave. between Tilden Avenue and Duryea Place in Flatbush, www.littlecaribbean.nyc] on May 12 at 2 pm. $25.

Reach reporter Alexandra Simon at (718) 260–8310 or e-mail her at asimon@cnglocal.com.
Updated 6:06 pm, April 13, 2018
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