May is Haitian Heritage Month, a celebration of history, culture, and pride for Haitians everywhere in the world. This celebration is rooted in Haitian Flag Day held on May 18th, a national holiday that commemorates the creation of the flag during the Haitian Revolution. Located in the Caribbean and sharing the island of Hispaniola with the Dominican Republic, Haiti holds such joy and delight in its culture, including its food. Haitian Cuisine is very versatile, having a vast array of French, African, Spanish, and Middle Eastern influences. Today, I’m going to walk you through your meals of the day à l'haïtienne to experience the love and warmth of the culture.

Cocorico, cocorico, cocorico

You’re awakened by the rooster in the garden of your Haitian Airbnb located in Cap-Haitien, Haiti. The sun shining through your windows and the birds chirping outside make you pleased with your decision to escape the cold weather of Boston. World travel has always been so alluring to you, and since Haitian Flag Day on May 18th is coming up, you’ve decided to travel to Haiti to learn more about its culture, specifically its cuisine. Your host lets you know that throughout the day, you will be given two choices for all the meals.

For starters, she presents you with two choices for your breakfast: Espageti ak Hotdog or Bannan Bouyi ak Ze Fri. Espageti ak Hotdog is a pasta dish made with spaghetti, chopped hotdogs, tomato paste, diced veggies, and spices. When ready, it is best served with ketchup squeezed on top and boiled eggs on the side.

Your other option is Bannan Bouyi ak Ze Fri, which translates to Boiled Plantains with Fried Eggs. This Haitian-style omelet is served with regular or sweet plantains. Both dishes can also be served with avocado on the side.

As the day passes, your stomach begins to rumble, but it is not time for dinner yet. So, you ask your host to prepare you a little something to bite on. Fritay ak pikliz or Pâté Kòdé. Fritay ak pikliz is an assortment of fried foods that consists of griot (fried pork), tassot (fried goat), bannan peze (fried plantains), akra (malanga fritters), marinade (chicken fritters), saucisse (fried sausage). The pikliz (spicy coleslaw) which is essential to the fritay, is a pickled white vinegar mix of sliced and shredded cabbage, carrots, bell and scotch bonnet peppers.

Your second option is Pâté Kòdé which are crispy patties filled with your choice of filling which range from hot dogs, eggs, smoked herrings, chicken, and beef. Keep in mind that the Pâté Kòdé can be placed on a fritay platter.

After spending time at the Labadee beach, tanning sous le soleil chaud, and swimming in the turquoise water, it is time for dinner. Your first choice of the day is Diri Blan, Sos Pwa Nwa, ak Legim. It is white rice (diri blan), black beans purée sauce (sos pwa nwa), and legume (legim) which is a stew that includes a lot of mashed vegetables like eggplants, chayotes, spinach, carrots, cabbages, and any variations of meats like beef, chicken, turkey, shrimp, crabs, pork, and/or so many more.

Your second choice is called Diri Djondjon. It is a dish that consists of rice made with black mushrooms. This plate can be paired with fried poulet *chicken* in sauce, salade russe *Russian salad.* It is absolutely delicious and has amazing health benefits.

Your stomach is filled with delight and now you’re craving something sweet. It is now time for desserts. Just the final touch to combine everything perfectly. Once again, your first choice is Dous Makòs. It is a rectangular-shaped vanilla fudge with two layers: chocolate and pink (or red sometimes). It is made with sugar, milk, flavorings, and definitely food colorings for the pink layer. This delicious dessert was created by a man named Fernand Macos in 1939.

Your second dessert ranges between sweet and savory saveur *taste.* The name is tablèt which is essentially brittle. Now, there are different varieties such as tablèt pistach (peanut brittle), tablèt kokoye (coconut brittle), and tablèt nwa (cashew brittle). However, the tablèt pistach is the most popular snack in the streets of Haiti. How is it made? It is caramelized roasted peanuts seasoned with ginger, cinnamon, and nutmeg; then placed aside to dry which forms the rock texture. Absolute wonders, but not recommended for people with a nut allergy.

Just like that, your wonderful day in Haiti has come to an end and I hope you have enjoyed your meals. However, if you are keen on tasting the culture of Haiti through its food, you are more than welcome to visit any of these four places that I have listed below:

Toutwèl Restaurant - 643 River St, Mattapan, MA 02126

Le Foyer Bakery - 132 Babson St, Boston, MA 02126

Highland Creole Cuisine - 2 Highland Ave, Somerville, MA 02143

Signature Kitchen - 1289 Main St, Brockton, MA 02301

Born and raised in Haiti, Carmaïssa moved to the United States at the age of thirteen years old. With her ability to adapt and learn quickly, being trilingual became an advantage. However, over the years, she noticed that her fluency in French had lessened due to the lack of use. Working at the French Library is the epitome of the blessing that she was looking for to regain fluency in her native language. It has also opened countless doors of opportunities for her to connect with people from all over the world about their love for French culture and language. In her free time, she enjoys reading, writing novels, journaling her thoughts, and having deep conversations with loved ones.

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