The second Sunday in November is an important date – many people consider it marks the start of the Christmas season in Trinidad. For the past seven years, that’s been the date of the annual Pan, Parang and Pork dinner and concert hosted by the Caribbean Airlines Invaders Steel Orchestra.
The Invaders first held the Pan, Parang and Pork dinner to raise funds to acquire the property where the band is based, as well as to help develop the band. That debut dinner was such a success the band’s management decided to make it an annual affair. Over the years since, along with a sumptuous menu, patrons have enjoyed live entertainment from top local artistes and groups, performing the music of the season. Among them is calypsonian Scrunter, whose soca-parang tunes blend the traditional Spanish-influenced Christmas music with the rhythms of soca. Traditional parang groups Los Paranderos de UWI and Los Paranderos de San Juan have also appeared at the event. And of course the Invaders themselves also perform.
As for the food, don’t let the title mislead you. It’s not all about pork, as the spread laid out by the organisers reflects a true Trini Christmas feast complete with special Christmas rice and salad, pastelles, baked pork and chicken, jerk pork and chicken, ham, turkey, and green pigeon peas, as well as an assortment of snacks, including hot wings, barbecued pigtail, Chinese-style pork, and chicken.
This year’s Pan, Parang and Pork dinner and concert is scheduled for November 8 at the Queen’s Park Oval, Tragarete Road, Port of Spain.
The Caribbean Airlines Invaders Steel Orchestra is one of the oldest surviving steelbands in the world and was formed in 1937 as the Oval Boys. They changed their name to Invaders after members saw the war movie The Night Invader. Founding members, including Ellie Mannette and Stephen Hunte, established a rehearsal space under a breadfruit tree at 147 Tragarete Road, Port of Spain. The band remains there to this day.