History


The Latin-Caribbean islands have evolved to produce a uniquely cuisine each of their own borrowing and blending of foods and cooking styles from various countries. However, one will find common products throughout the islands. Haitian cuisine is a blend of tropical tastes and multicultural influences. Like its other Latin-Caribbean neighbor it is a celebration of aromatic, sweet and tart, piquant and mild citrus flavors. To understand and appreciate it, you must first understand the history behind the food.

Haitian food is similar to the other Latin-Caribbean countries that have been colonized by French and the Spanish. However it is diferent from that of the other Caribbean islands; it is a mix of various cooking style and culture but its primary influences are from the indigenous people hat lived in the island the Tainos, Spanish, French and Africans. The harmonious combinations of these cooking techniques have refined Haitian cooking to make it something very unique and it appeals to any visitors to the island. Haitians use vegetable and meat extensively, in Haiti, spice is used sparingly and as a side dish. Hot pepper is used as flavor rather than heat that in itself set it apart. It is not hot and not even mderately spicy, Haitian use vegetable and herbs as their main spice. Other communities have established themselves in Haiti for business purposes of foreign origins and they have themselves introduced several foreign cuisines into the mainstream culture that have merged with the Haitian cuisine such as the Arab migration to Haiti.

The traditional rice and beans that one encounters in the Latin-Caribbean countries is transformed in Haitian cooking. Haitians eat rice and beans or rice with a bean sauce from one of many type of beans such as kidney, pinto, garbazo beans, pigeon peas and so on. Corn meal the same cooking techniques as rice with fish or alone or millet and bulgur wheat.

All meals are flavored with a combination sauce made from cooked peppers, garlic, and herbs. Given the  generous ecosystem of Haiti the inhabitants are blessed with new vegetable and fruits spawning out every month. Haiti is rich in fruits and vegetables such as guavas, pineapples, cassava, papayas, sweet potatoes, and corn. It produces over 793650 tones of fruits annually and is the 9th exporter of mango on the globe and the 3rd exporter of avocado in Central America 97% eating locally and 3% exported to the United States and other Caribbean countries.

In general, the typical Haitian foods are characterized by the use of starch staples such as rice, corn, millet, yams, and beans. However if one does not live in a coastal town the preference would be for meat, game bird and for those in the urban areas who can afford higher style of living the preference will not only be for meats and seafood, ducks, and certain sweet desserts, such as the French-influenced mousse and pastries. Nevertheless, the traditional dishes reign supreme when catering to the Haitian palates.




Unlike many believes Haiti being one of the grand islands have ten regional departments. As one travel out to these regions one witness variances in the cooking added to the fact that noticeable changes are seen between urban and rural style of cooking and gastronomic specialties pertaining to specific towns. In the South East region, the Capital the French influence is much more present; vegetables are either used in the form of gratins, sautéed, baguettes and croissant are used for sandwiches and so on while deserts are almost entirely French.


Whereby the rural vacinities the Taino, Spanish and African culture is strongly felt, vegetables are simmered down, traditional Haitian bread making style are the norm and Yucca(cassava) is also more present in the bread making, you will find Bobori, Cassava bread. Meat and seafood are either stewed or grilled and desert is typically a blend of these cultures.

In the South West region coconut milk is introduce in the cooking and a lot of dried fish, there is Konparet sweet bread from Jeremie. In the northern sector cashew nuts are part of ingredients for sauce and rice making. In the region of Grand’Anse the center the core of African Cooking style is seen, they have the
same foofoo and Okra sauce as West Africa, Doukounou specialties of that region, Tiaka a corn based stew, like the Cape Verdian Cachupa and Lalo a green leaf cooked with meat that is served with white rice from Artibonite; Douce Marcos from Petit-Goave said to be an inheritance of Madame labarre or Guava Jelly from Cayes. There is also a coastal cuisine, with fish meat, lobster, shrimp and sea-food readily available. Fruit including guava, pineapple, mango, banana, papaya, grapefruit, melons, breadfruit is often used in fruit salads, compotes, jams and other desserts.

All in all, throughout Haiti, everyone enjoys waking up to the aroma of fresh roasted coffee, bread and butter as one waits for breakfast to arrive serve it black please! Haitians work hard men and women and those who are not unemployed walk throughout the day in search for a job thus breakfast has to be hardy and the kids need all the nutrients that they need to learn so what’s for breakfast? A big bowl of Akasan in the morning, a healthy legacy from our Taino ancestors is never refused but it can be a plate of polenta colored with chunks of tomato seasoned with some herring or a plate of plantain, yams and sautéed liver and watercress salad.



Around lunch time which is considered the prime dinner time, we kick off dinner with the viv(roots & tuber) a plate of boiled yams, plantain accompanied with a chunk of stewed simmered or grilled meat and salad will be a good starting point as one wait for the piece de resistance a nice bowl of Riz Djon Djon or Riz National, throwing in a slice of chayote or macaroni gratin will not go to waste and lastly a nice piece of sweet potato pudding flambéed with a five star Haitian rum or a blanc-manger topped with fresh fruits and an apricot liqueur is definitely a good way to work though the rest of the day all of that washed down with a nice glass of grenadine juice one is in heaven and ready to face the boss once again for a last brawl.

As the day progress and the afternoon crunch sets in, what perfect time to call for a bag of Papita (plantain chips) or roasted peanuts for a boost of energy, a Royal which is cassava bread topped with peanut butter, why not some mango or kachiman while we’re at it. By six in the evening the children have completed their homework it is time for the family to prepare for the next day a Haitian family does not complete its day without a bowl of porridge or send for Fritay (Haitian version of fast food, composed of fried plantain, griot(fried pork) or Tasso (dried beef or goat) with pickles, pickled vegetables) or a ragout or consommé for those who do not want to face the kitchen again, that’s closing the day Haitian style.


History

Haiti is a thought provoking country. Today, Haiti due to its political and socio-economic strife has found it’s niche in the media and is perceived has a poverty ridden country and almost lacking in all kinds of structures. One would even believe Haitians to live under coconut trees without a history and culture of its own. Natural disaster phenomenon, propaganda and stigmas have crippled the country more than bad leadership could have ever accomplished. The fact remains that one historical realities and daily living accounts still supersedes all dramatization and isolation. Haiti remains a country dotted with a rich culture, natural resources, a resilient population and its history a doorway for understanding the present world today for its history is the hallmark of the new world. 
in the 40’s and the 50’s “Haiti, the magic island, voodoo land” before that if we go back further the colonial era “Saint Domingue, the Paris of the Island, the richest colony in the world” .

To quote one Haitian, I would say, Haiti is the only country in the world today with a last name. No one talks about Haiti without adding “Haiti, the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere” the habit of associating a quote after Haiti is not new. In the 60’s and the 70’s it was “Haiti, the pearl of the Caribbean”

Haiti is the premier of many things among them is the country being the first colony in the new world, the first black republic in the world. In December 5th 1492 when Christopher Columbus first set foot on Mole Saint Nicolas in the northern sector of Haiti which was then called by the indigenous people “Ayiti”, “Quiskeya” or “Bohio” he baptized the land Isla Espanola which later became “Hispaniola” meaning “little Spain” little did he know that he was not only going to change history but the palate of the world. Haiti is the birthplace of transformation, rangingfrom humanities to gastronomy. The sad story is that few Haitians are aware of this part of their history.


When Christopher Colombus landed in Haiti he fell in love with the beauty of the place, he saw numerous trees filled with fruits which he thought were spices and unripe nutmeg. During that period, Old World crops such as wheat, barley, rice, and turnips had not traveled west across the Atlantic, and New World crops such as maize, white potatoes, sweet potatoes, and manioc had not traveled east to Europe. In the Americas, there were no horses, cattle, sheep, or goats, all animals of Old World origin. Except for the llama, alpaca, dog, a few fowl, and guinea pig, the New World had no equivalents to the domesticated animals associated with the Old World, nor did it have the pathogens associated with the Old World’s dense populations of humans and such associated creatures as chickens, cattle, black rats, and mosquitoes.
Among these germs were those that carried smallpox, measles, chickenpox, influenza, malaria, and yellow fever.


Today it is hard to imagine what people ate and how they cooked prior to the Columbian Exchange. Try to imagine Italian cooking and Italian food culture without tomatoes. Or Thai or Indian cooking without chili peppers. Or Brazilian food without limes or coconuts or mangoes. Impossible. Yet, until sometime after 1492 cooks in these cultures did not have these ingredients available, though today these ingredients are essential to the food culture of these countries

The Columbian Exchange, a term coined in 1972 by Alfred W. Crosby in a book of the same name, was the dramatic exchange of food plants and animals between the Eastern and Western Hemispheres in the years after the European "discovery" of the New World in 1492. In the Age of Exploration that followed Columbus' initial voyage across the Atlantic, foodstuffs from the New World, whether animal or vegetable in origin, made their way eastward to the Old World, and an equal number moved in the opposite direction, arriving to America. The Columbian Exchange greatly affected almost every society on Earth and transformed European, American, African, and Asian ways of life. New foods became staples of human diets, and new growing regions opened up for crops.

However, French culture still remains an integral part of Haitian society, as evidenced by the wide use of the French language and the abundance of French cheeses, desserts, and breads commonly found at local markets and stores.

historically, Haiti was colonized by Spain and France. Hence its culture and culinary arts are influence by them as well by Africans, Taíno Amerindians, and other ethnic groups that lived in the western region of Hispaniola. European people (Spanishand French) introduced oranges, limes, mangoes, rice, and Sugarcane. During the Spanish colonial period, African slaves were imported to Haiti to work in sugarcane plantations. The Africans brought with them okra (also called gumbo;edible pods), red beans and rice and mirliton (or chayote; a pear-shaped vegetable), ackee (red and yellow fruit), taro (edible root), pigeon peas (seeds of an African shrub), and various spices. When the French took control of Haiti from Spain, French colonists successfully cultivated sugarcane, coffee, cotton, and cocoa with the use of African slaves. This lasted until the Haitians had finally won their freedom in 1804 from the French government.  


Before Columbus:


The Arawaks and Tainos, two native tribes, originally occupied the island. It is thought the Tainos began the tradition of spicing food with chili peppers. The Arawaks were among the first to use barbecue techniques by building grills with green sticks. They called it barbacot. The Spanish word barbacoa is a variation of Barbacot as is the English word barbecue. They were peaceful tribes of farmers who cultivated such foods as sweet potatoes, cornand cassava(yucca). They seasoned their foods with fiery chilies, cassareep, and annatto seed. Annatto seed is still used today under the name of roucou.  As for chilies, the Scotch bonnet is one of the defining flavors of the Caribbean. The starchy vegetable tuber yucca is a good part of the Haitian diet. Sweet yucca is a staple, boiled and served for breakfast and dinner, often with meat, seafood or poultry accompaniment. Yucca is can grow in semi-arid climates and on hillsides, and can conserve for several months in the earth without rotting.  It was the key to Taíno survival.
The baking of cassava bread from bitter yucca flour is a Haitian tradition that has strong ties to the Taíno past. Several food products are made bobori, Doukounou,
Foodways and Tobacco Use
Besides yucca, many fruits and vegetables of indigenous origin have remained staples in the Haitian diet. They include the guava, Korosol(soursop), pineapple, lechees, Malanga, mani, and sweet potato and many others. The popular Bouillion/salcocho (stew) may be derived from the indigenous pepper pot or ajiejaco. mabi a non-alcoholic drinks with indigenous origins is still locally produced from fermented palm and sold on the streets today. Finally, the Taíno word bucán describes the technique of spit-roasting, an important
element of a barbecue (Taíno word barbacoa).


Yucca

Tobacco (tabaco) has a long history of use in Haiti. Tobacco is an integral part of voodoo ceremonies, where cigar smoking is used in spirit offerings and possession rituals. Besides being big business for export, tobacco is ubiquitous as a smoking product throughout Haiti. People smoke locally made cigarettes, as well as cigars and pipes. Many traditions of tobacco use include rolling cigars or smoking a compacted tobacco leaf plug in a pipe called (cachimbo).




Columbus and Postcolombian era:



The Central American country of Haiti is part of the western Caribbean island of Hispaniola. It occupies about one third of the island and the eastern two-thirds are occupied by the Dominican Republic. Haiti has the North Atlantic Ocean to the north and the Caribbean Sea when Columbus discovered it in 1492 -were virtually annihilated by Spanish settlers within 25 years. In the early 17th century, the French established a presence on Hispaniola, and in 1697, Spain ceded to the French the western third of the island - Haiti. The French colony, based on forestry and sugar-related industries, became one of the wealthiest in the caribbean, but only through the heavy importation of African slaves and considerable environmental degradation. Haiti became the first blackrepublic to declare its independence in 1804.

The arrival of the Spanish in 1492 introduced a variety of new foods to the region, from wine and olive oil to vinegar and European spices. Metalutensils from Spain greatly improved Caribbean technology, as did the durable containers made from metal and glass. An ancient spanish vinegar-based meat seasoning became Haiti’s national marinade, Adobo.

Christopher Columbus brought sugarcane to the Caribbean on his second voyage in 1494. It was not long before the “old world” technique of distillation created a “new world” spirit that remains the quintessential drink of the Caribbean: Rum. Virtually every nation in the Caribbean produces its own rum, with styles varying widely from island to island. Haiti’s Barbancourt, use the traditional pot still of cognac and Scottish whiskey.

Eager for a share in the new world’s wealth, the French, Dutch, and British colonized the islands in turn. Each nation put its mark on local larders. In the French islands for example, you will find French-style jams, rum-preserved fruits. The arrival of the first African slaves in the seventeenth century had a profound impact on Caribbean culinary history.

Brought to the Caribbean to work on the sugar plantations that stretched from Cuba to Trinidad, the slaves introduced such traditional African foods as gunga peas, okra, and yams (a true yam is quite different from what Americans call a sweet potato). Denied fresh meat or fish because of the expense, the slaves evolved a cuisine based on inexpensive ingredients, such as “ground rovisions” (starchy root vegetables), beans, salt fish and salt pork. Many Caribbean hot sauces and condiments were perfected by the Afro-Caribbeans to lend excitement to an otherwise monotonous diet.

The warm climate of the Caribbean supports a bounty of exotic fruits,from perfumed guava to tangy passion fruit. Small wonder that the tropical fruit jams and jellies, rum punches, fruit cheeses, and fruit curds became popular West Indian sweets. Nor is it any great surprise that the world’s sugar capital should produce such a rich tradition of candies and sweets, ranging from tamarind balls to coconut candies. The West Indies is the home of the world’s hottest chili, the scotch bonnet. The name comes from its crinkled crown, which with a little imagination looks like a Scottish turban. The Scotch Bonnet and its cousins- Mexican habanero, it is fifty times hotter than a Jalapeno chili.

In Haiti they grill, dry their meat and seafood. They cut their meat in strips and placed spices on the meat before drying. The meat was preserved by grilling, smoking, and spicing the meat. They a cooking techniques which they learn from their ancestors, dated back precolombian time and during the colonial era. This smoke-grilled meat was called barabica or bar-bcue. The word translates as sacred fire pit and is also spelled barbicoa or bar-b-que. Let’s look at the history of barbecuing in the islands during the colonial era.

Cuisine of the filibusters


The history of piracy in the West Indies are well-known throughout the world but little that many in the world know is that Tortuga Island is in no other place but in Haiti. In that Island, Pirates, buccaneers, filibusters who were hunters, gatherers and privateers from France, Portugal, Holland, Zealand, indentured servant and maroon slaves inhabited, the island. From this island the French has a foothold of the western part of Hispanola and later they were established themselves as a colony in Haiti. The word bucanners comes from the word boucan, a wooden frame used for cooking meat used by French hunters call boucaniers. interestingly, the English word, filibuster, has its origins in pirate terminology. Vrijbuiter meaning plunderer in Dutch was corrupted into the English "freebooter" and the French "flibustier." The French word then went back into the English as "filibuster." A filibuster was not a pirate but an adventurous man involved in certain Latin American revolutions and coups.
They not only marvel at the rich flora, the diversity of fish swimming a few meters from the shore, rich in wild pigs, trees filled with delicious fruits, big birds like chickens, potatoes offered by the Caribbean they cook under the grill or in a pot it was really the land of plenty.
with chicken, pork or beef.

Who would have imagined pirates, buccaneers as foodies? And yet: the Creole cuisine of today was born from the crucible buccaneers and filibuster, miraculous blend of influences. The first Amerindian inhabitants already smoked meat on racks over a fire of green wood (the racket), marinate fish in lemon juice wrapped in banana leaves before cooking. Dried meat brushed with a mixture of peppers and spices. Then the Dutch, Spanish, Portuguese, French, English, landed the Old World brought their culinary traditions and a few basic ingredients (rice, wheat, beef, pork, olive oil, ginger), while their African slaves brought okra, yams, watermelon ...

The Pirates living in Tortuga Island were Marginals who settle in the islands, deserters from various nations it developed an original society, based on the  capture of livestock, cut into thin strip s and "smoked" in the manner of Caribbean Indians, pirates and sold to passing. At the same time as the buccaneers adapted their traditions to the products they discovered – they came to produce one of the most original kitchens and tastiest available. Highly spiced, like the life they led.
  
Types of Foods and Spices Commonly Used in Cooking

Haitian foods are rich in spices such as lime, garlic, and peppers. These add a distinctly Haitian taste to all of their recipes. Additionally, vegetables such as carrots, cabbage, shallots, chili, and eggplant are some of the basic ingredients in Haitian cuisine. These vegetables serve as side dishes in Haitian meals; they are soaked in vinegar to make a relish similar to those found in American cuisine. People in Haiti also love to eat food with meats such as goat, pork, and chicken. Fruits like mangoes, guavas, green plantains and coconuts are also part of the Haitian diet.

Food Profiles of Haitian Cooking

Haitian dishes are generally cooked over several hours. In the rural area the food is cooked the traditional way by using wood, coal, and rocks; however, those living in urban areas they use modern cooking equipment. All the ingredients come from natural fruits and vegetables, which makes the food healthy and delicious. One of the most notable things about Haitians is their passion for cooking. Almost all Haitians love to cook, and enjoy experimenting with different dishes using their spices as the main seasoning. This is evidenced by the small food courts in downtown Port-au-Prince that sell rice and beans or corn meal dishes




Traditional Dishes

Traditional Haitian dishes are largely comprised of pork, fish, root vegetables, and Pikliz (hot pepper vinegar) and Zepis (ground spices). The most popular dishes are:

Rice and Beans

is known to be Haiti’s national dish; it is the most commonly eaten meal in households and is rich in starch and complex carbohydrates.


Mais Moulu

(mayi moulen) is very pouplar in Haitian rural areas. The dish is somewhat like cornmeal that can be eaten with sauce pois (sos pwa), a bean sauce made from one of many types of beans such as kidney beans, pintos, and garbanzos. What makes it unique is that this food can be eaten with fish (often red snapper), depending  person’s personal preference.

Diri ak Djon Djon

(Rice with mushrooms) is a native dish of Haiti which consists of rice darken by a black mushrooms that is endemic to Haiti, peas and shrimp.



Banane Pesee
(Bannan Pézé) can either be eaten as a snack or part of a meal. It is made up of flattened plantain slices that are fried in oil served with tassot and/or griot, deep-fried goat and pork.


Manjé Kréyol

(Haitian Creole) is the Haitian variety of creole cooking found on the other Caribbean islands. It makes use of herbs and peppers. A typical dish would probably be a plate of du riz colée a pois (diri kolé ak pwa), which is brown rice with red kidney or pinto beans glazed with a marinade and topped off with red snapper, tomatoes and onions. The dish can be accompanied by bouillon (bouyon), known as sancocho in some neighboring countries. Bouillon is a hearty stew consisting of various spices, potatoes, tomatoes, and meats such as goat or beef.

Soup Joumou 

is a traditional soup very popular in Latin America and the Caribbean. It is a thick and hardy soup made from pumpkins. Traditionally, it is consumed on the 1st of January as a historical tribute to Haiti’s independence in 1804; on that day, newly freed slaves consumed pumpkin soup to celebrate their freedom, a meal forbidden by their French masters

 Griots

is one of Haiti’s most popular dishes. Always a crowd pleaser, it is customarily served at parties and other social gatherings. Pork cubes are soaked in a sour orange marinade, and then slow-roasted until tender. The tender morsels are then fried in oil until delectably caramelized. The dish uses a mixture of orange and lime juice. It is also referred to as grillots, griyo, griyot or griot.

Traditional Holiday Dishes

The Haitian people love to celebrate and as you would expect, food is often an important element of many of their festivities. Different religious celebrations are accompanied by dedicated culinary masterpieces that liven up any social gathering. Weddings are the most impressive Haitian celebrations and the ingenious and delicious dishes prepared for this occasion would make any other traditional cuisine fanatic envious. Haitians celebrate their independence on January 1, 1804 and although this is more of an official holiday, it is another opportunity for the people of Haiti to gather and socialize. In Haiti, independence triggered a lot of radical changes and this is why the celebration is deemed very important by today’s Haitians.


The traditional squash soup or Soup Joumou that many Haitians make for New Year's has historical significance for many families. This soup is a dish that is associated with the freedom of the nation, the first black nation to gain its independence as a colony. Although there are many variations of the soup there is the common thread that the soup have yellow squash in it. The yellow squash was a delicacy for the French colonist and the slaves were not allowed to eat it. The national holiday falls on New Years Day, when Haitians walk from house to house to pay friends and family the first visits on the New Year.
                                       
Vodouisants enjoy harvest festivals

That are held for two days annually each November. Haitians also observe Manger-Yam, which literally means eat yam day. The festival is marked by feasting, drinking, singing, and dancing. The purpose of this day is to emphasize the importance of the yam in rural diets.


One of the national holidays

Haitians observe is All Souls’ Day. It is a day on which deceased loved ones are honored and their lives celebrated through storytelling, eating, and drinking. Many Haitians place food in front of a loved one’s grave or at the table where they used to eat. The family will only enjoy their own meal afterthe food has been offered.

Traditional Desserts

Haitian desserts are the perfect way to finish a delicious meal. Popular Haitian desserts include fresco, pain patate(sweet potato pudding), Doukounou, blanc-manger, meringe, fruit tarts and many French desserts.


Famous Chefs that Specialize in Haitian Cooking

Traditional Haitian food is prepared using unique provincial styles and methods. People in Haiti prefer to have their food cooked with simple techniques that make use of natural elements such as wooden fire, coals, and rocks. The traditional way of cooking is passed from generation to generation. In cooking, authentic Haitian chefs place emphasis on making sure their food has a distinct natural flavor and is healthy. The following chefs specialize in Haitian cuisine:

Chef Ron Duprat

He became interested in pursuing a culinary career because of his passion for food and an established family tradition. One of his biggest influences was his Haitian grandmother, from whom he learned the skills and techniques needed for creating innovative dishes. He has since developed his own personal style and cuisine through years of traveling the globe and studying various cultural cuisines. Most notably, Chef   Duprat has created menus for dignitaries, heads of state,and has collaborated with many great chefs.

Chef Jodi Adams

is a celebrity chef from Boston who owns Cambridge’s four-star restaurant Rialto. During the Haiti Tragedy, Jody Adams prepared traditional goat dishes to support the relief effort.
Chef Marie-Laurence Pierre
She is originally from Haiti. After attaining over 16 years of experience in business management and the hospitality industry, she decided to open A Culinary Affair, an establishment that specializes in Caribbean Cuisine. Their menus feature a selection of pan ethnic dishes, combining the finesse of European cuisine with the spices of Africa.

Carnival in Port-au-Prince

It is the most festive time of the year in Haiti, also known as Fat-Tuesday. It is comprised of three days of festivities and begins before Ash Wednesday. It is celebrated in the capital, Port-au-Prince. In keeping with the party atmosphere, the city is filled with music, parade floats and people dancing and singing in the streets. The Wednesday that follows Mardi Gras, is known as Ash Wednesday. This festival is marked by spectacular parades that feature floats, pageants, masked balls, elaborate costumes, seductive music and many more.



 Preparation Methods for Haitian Cooking

Haitian cooking needs time and meticulousness; many of the plants are let to rest before cooking and special dishes are cooked for hours, as the conservation of the nutrients and vitamins is very important in the Haitian culture. The bananas are traditionally cooked by keeping their natural skin or even wrapping other food in banana leaves and leaving them to slow cook for long periods of time from 3 to 4 hours for any usual meal. A layer of dirt is sometimes shoveled on the oven to prevent the heat spreading. Just like the banana, the sweet potatoes should be cooked without peeling, as in this way, they keep their nutritional elements.

Traditionally, the Haitian used and still use coal fire made on the ground on top of which food was seated so that it would cook slowly and healthy. While these rustic methods will make the delight of any tourist, you should also know that many Haitians use modern cooking methods, especially in urban areas.


Special Equipment for Haitian Cooking

Traditionally, there are 2 important things that are necessary when wanting to cook a traditional Haitian meal: the fire arrangement and the time. Coals are used for slow cooking, instead of the modern oven. These are set in a hole in the ground (real earth), with leaves on top, under the food and more leaves on top of the food.


Haitian Food Traditions and Festivals The Haitian people love to celebrate and as you would expect, food is often an important element of many of their festivities. Different religious celebrations are accompanied by dedicated culinarymasterpieces that liven up any social gathering. Weddings are the most impressive Haitian celebrations and the ingenious and delicious dishes prepared for this occasion would make any other traditional cuisine fanatic envious. Haitians celebrate their independence on January 1, 1804 and although this is more of an official holiday, it is another opportunity for the people of Haiti to gather and socialize. In Haiti, independence triggered a lot of radical changes and this is why the celebration is deemed very important by today’s society.

The people of Haiti are predominantly Roman Catholic, although majority believe in and practice at least some aspects of Vodou. As a result, in addition to their official national holidays and festivities, Haitians also celebrate two of the most widely observed holidays- Christmas and New Year. On Christmas Eve, Roman Catholics attend midnight mass, and come home to a celebratory meal followed by an exchange of gifts. Typically, only the wealthy will own a Christmas tree, but all villagers get to enjoy pis d’etoil (firecrackers).

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