Archive for the ‘Haitian Food’ Category

How we eat

Thursday, October 20th, 2011

I’m always the first to complain about people’s stereotypes regarding Haitian culture. I hate it when people say “you don’t look Haitian” or “you speak very well ‘for a Haitian’”. I realized that I’m so irritated by these comments that I miss an opportunity to teach others about what makes my culture so great. Better late than never, right? First lesson: how we eat.

Haitians (in general) eat three meals a day with very little snacking in between. Breakfast is usually something pretty heavy like eggs and boiled plantains or even spaghetti. Kids often have a lighter dish like bread and café au lait (yes, we drink coffee as children) or hot chocolate. The picture below is smoked herring (chiktay in Creole) which is sautéed with onions and hot peppers (we mostly use Scotch bonnet). You can eat this with bread or boiled plantains. I like it so much I can eat it throughout the day as a snack with crackers.


Lunch is a pretty heavy meal, as well. Most dishes will consist of rice and beans in some form and meat. Some people also like to include a vegetable such as yuca, plantains or bread fruit. The dish below is red beans and rice, fried pork and plantains. Fried pork (griyo in Creole) is a very common dish sold by street vendors all over Haiti. It sounds easy to make, but there’s a trick used to prepare it that makes it nearly impossible to replicate at home. I think it has to do with the cut of the meat and the spices used.

griot, banane peze, diri kole.

Dinner is usually the lightest meal of the day. In my neck of the woods, we never really ate any rice or meat after 6 PM. It’s very common to have a porridge like the one pictured below made from grated plantains (you seeing a theme here) with some toast. Or, we sometimes had hot chocolate with a baguette. I must note that Haitian cuisine is very versatile in terms of porridges which can also be made from yuca, millet, and cornmeal.

Banana Porridge (Haitian Style)

This is of course a brief explanation and there’s a whole lot more to Haitian cuisine. Don’t worry, I plan on sharing more in the future Guiño; especially the many uses of some of the vegetables I mentioned here. Any fellow Haitians who eat/ate differently at home, please feel free to share.

How to make Haitian meatballs

Tuesday, August 31st, 2010

As I mentioned before, I’m not a big fan of Venezuelan food. Therefore, at home the kids mostly eat traditional Haitian cuisine. I remember how tired I would grow of some variation of rice and beans, so I try to throw in some pasta or grilled vegetables on the weekly menu.

Meatballs, or boulèt, is one of my favorite dishes. Haitian food is complicated to make, so I’m going to give you the basic directions to make the meatballs and will also include what I feel are some optional steps.

Here’s what you’re going to need to get started:

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Ground beef – this about 1 lb.

Bread (stale if you have it) soaked in water

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Spice medley – parsley, garlic, red and green bell peppers, green onions.

You’re also going to need this contraption:

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This is handmade mortar and pestle and a MUST in any self-respecting Haitian household.

First thing is to crush all the fresh spices in the mortar and pestle. Add some fine salt to your liking.

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Squeeze the excess water out of the bread and set aside.

Optional: 1) Add the juice of a squeezed lemon into the spice mix for acidity. 2) After squeezing the excess water out of the bread, you can mash it in the mortar and pestle too. 3) You can rinse the ground beef in a sieve to remove some of the blood. 4) Boil a small potato, peel it and crush it to add with the spices and bread.

Add the spices and the bread to the ground beef.

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I also like to to add a chopped medium-sized onion.

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Mix the spices, bread and onions and this what you get.

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You take the ground beef mixture with some all-purpose flour and start making the meatballs by rolling large spoonfuls between the palms of your hands (or however you like to make your meatballs round). Once the desired shape, roll them in the flour. In the meantime, heat up your oil – I like to use corn or vegetable.

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When the oil is hot (it bubbles when I put the end of a wooden spoon in it), start frying the meatballs.

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When they’ve browned on one side, flip them over.

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As with any fried food, I like to set them on a paper towel to drain any excess oil. In the interim, rinse and repeat for the remaining uncooked meatballs.

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And this, is the boulèt in all its glory.

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In our house, it’s usually eaten with white rice and red or black bean purée, but it’s not a hard and fast rule. Sometimes I accidentally get full eating them while cooking, so it can definitely stand alone.

Any questions?

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