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.
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.
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 ; 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.