Tomorrow marks the fifth anniversary of the devastating earthquake that struck the tiny country of Haiti in 2010. Since the first anniversary I have always written a remembrance post for the victims-both those who perished and those who survive (click here, here, and here to access them). The unimaginably sad thing is that many of the survivors are barely doing better than in the immediate aftermath-poverty, disease, corruption-these are problems that still run rampant. While it’s easy for us in the developed world to think that places like Haiti don’t exist, that all is well once the media goes away, that’s never at all the case. At 16:53 (4:53 PM) take a moment to remember the people of Haiti and all those connected to it on that fateful day.
Two non-profit organizations that directly help the people of Haiti and could use your assistance (note, I’m in no way affiliated to either organization, I just greatly admire the work they do):
Haitian Families First (this was started by two sisters from Pittsburgh) & Nos Petits Freres et Sœurs A.I.P. (the organization I volunteered with in Mexico also operates a home for orphaned and abandoned children in Haiti, along with medical and educational facilities).
But onto the food! While I said in my first “Five foods to try” post that I would only feature those countries which I had been to, I wanted to make the exception for Haiti. And technically, I did try Haitian food for the first time last year when I visited Miami Beach (if you’re in the area, I highly recommend checking out the restaurant-Tap Tap). While I was told that the food isn’t very different from other Caribbean nation cuisines, it still seemed unique, especially with its Haitian Creole names.
Kalalou (Stewed Okra)
I have eaten okra before but it was fried and the recipe came from a Cajun cookbook. I ordered a side of kalalou at Tap Tap and was pleasantly surprised with how tasty it was. A simple dish for sure, but appetizing to eat the stewed okra in a semi-rich tomato sauce.
Kabrit Boukannen (Grilled Goat)
Goat is something I’ve never eaten but one of these days I’m going to man up and actually try it. It’s also something that seems to be extremely common in Haitian cuisine (another popular dish is kabrit nan so-stewed goat). I’m sure it’s one of those things that tastes like “something else,” yet still with its own distinct touch. To me, anything grilled is always delicious and I’m sure the grilled kabrit is no exception.
Legim (Vegetable Stew)
Legim is a thick vegetable stew that features a mashed mixture of eggplant, cabbage, chayote, spinach, watercress, and other vegetables depending on the season and the cook’s preference. It’s flavored with sofrito (a type of sauce used in Latin American cooking), onions, garlic, and tomato paste, and generally cooked with beef and/or crab. It’s typically served with rice but can also be served with other starches.
Soup Joumou (Pumpkin Soup)
This is a mildly spicy soup native to Haiti, although obviously being a pumpkin soup, countless variations of it exist throughout the Caribbean and Latin America. Pumpkin soup is one of those things that I would eat religiously if I ever became a vegetarian.
Akasan (Corn Flour Drink)
Akasan is a popular Haitian beverage made from milk, corn flour, anise stars, vanilla, and cinnamon and is drunk either warm or cold. In Haiti it’s a beloved breakfast beverage. I’m anxious to try this because in many ways it reminds me of the terrific Mexican sweet drink horchata.