Haitian food dishes and platters

History of Haitian Cuisine & Food Traditions

The west portion of the continent of Hispaniola is occupied by Haiti (the Dominican Republic occupies the eastern two thirds). Three primary mountain ranges run over the nation, divided by broad plains, giving the country its name, Haiti, which meaning rugged. Caffeine, cocoa, coconuts, avocados, oranges, limes, and mangoes all thrive in the wild. Coffee and sugarcane are by far the most major commercial commodities.

Early History of Haitian cuisine 

Traditional Haitian food was shaped by an exposure to Spain, France, Africa, and eventually the United States. Despite the fact that Haitian food is mostly centered around Creole and French culinary methods, various other countries have seized authority of Haiti over the years, bringing with them cuisine and concepts of their homelands.

In 1804, Haiti gained freedom from the French becoming the New World’s first African-American country. However, French domination is still visible in current Haitian society, especially in the widespread usage of the French language and improvements to the nation’s food. Cheeses, sweets, and breads from France are widely available at local marketplaces and supermarkets.

Composition of Haitian Meals

In practice, carbohydrate staples like as rice, maize, millet, sweet potatoes, and beans make up the majority of the ordinary Haitian menu. Meat and seafood of various kinds are consumed, but mostly the richer citizens can purchase them. Spices are used rarely but also as a second dish, such as in Piklis, a fermented cabbage meal containing carrot and marinated in vinegar scottish bonnet peppers. Epis is a ground onion, cilantro, garlic, black pepper, and thyme combination that is commonly used to prepare meat.

Morning food

Each morning, Haitians, like people in the U.S., start waking up to a cup of joe, which is always complemented by bread as well as cream or peanut butter. Riz et Pois, the country’s traditional rice and bean dish, is provided as the main course at midday to offer vital carbs to field laborers. A dish of viv — boiling plantain as well as other cooked roots and tubers served with a meat meal — is frequently served before it. A gratin is frequently served during Sunday lunch, a reference to their French ancestry once more. As a supplementary dish, pasta gratin (macaroni and cheese!) is popular. Sundays are also the time when you could have some free time for a tasty dessert.

Evening food

Evening meals are usually modest affairs, consisting of a bowl of cereal or a bowl of soups. People buy fritay (take-out) at street sellers equally as frequently. Fried plantains, griot (fried pig), or even grilled chicken are among the dishes available.

Tropical fruits and berries such as avocado, peaches, mangoes, coconuts, and pineapple thrive in Haiti’s Caribbean environment. Fresh produce is also a popular snack, and for a real sugar rush, consumers like succulent sugar cane stalks that are ready to eat. Fruit drinks are frequently made from fresh fruits. If you don’t provide fruit juice or fruit drink with a special dinner for a guest, it’s just not deemed proper. A cocktail might be served either prior or following dinner.

Pre-Colonial cuisine

The Tano inhabitants, who spoke an Arawakan dialect named Tano, lived on a number of Caribbean territories, including Haiti. Barbecue (or BBQ) is a Haitian invention. The name “barbecue” comes from the term barabicu, which is found inside the Tano and Timucua cultures of the Caribbean and Florida, respectively, and reached European dialects as barbacoa.

The term is defined as a “structure of sticks put upon posts” by the Oxford English Dictionaries. [4] [5] Inside the Diccionario de la Lengua Espaola (second Edition) of the Real Academia Espaola, Gonzalo Fernández Valdés, a Spaniard adventurer, first used the term “barbecoa” in writing throughout Spain in 1526.

Following Columbus’ arrival in the Americas in 1492, the Spaniards reportedly saw local Haitians cooking animal flesh above a grill constructed out of a wooden structure sitting on twigs and a fire beneath, with fire and smoke rising and enveloping the animal meat, imparting a distinct aroma.

Surprisingly, the same structure was utilised to safeguard people from wild animals that may attack them while they were sleeping. The barbeque has not only remained in Haitian cuisine, but has also been exported to other areas of the globe and also has a wide range of regional variants.

Colonial cuisine

On December 5, 1492, Christopher Columbus arrived at Môle Saint-Nicolas and seized the territory of La Isla Espanola (later dubbed Hispaniola) for Spain. The Spaniards formed plantation owners and forced the indigenous people to work as slaves, but the extreme conditions and contagious diseases carried in by the Spanish seafarers pretty much wiped out all the indigenous inhabitants by 1520, as the natives certainly lacks protection to these emerging diseases.

Rather, the Spaniards shipped slaves from Africa to collaborate the farms. Okra (also known as gumbo; delicious pods), ackee (red and yellow fruits), taro (a nutritious root), pigeon peas (seedlings of an African bush), and other spices were all brought to the cuisine by Africans. By the method of buccaneers, France had entrenched itself on the western section of the islands of Hispaniola and Tortuga in 1659.

The Treaty of Ryswick, signed in 1697, gave the French the right to take over the western half of the islands from the Spanish, who had ignored it. Even by 1700s, the French had established a comfortable grip on the region, effectively farming sugarcane, caffeine, cotton, and cocoa with the help of African slaves.

When the Haitian Revolution concluded and the Very first Empire of Haiti was created in 1804, hundreds of revolutionaries, including whites and liberated people of colour (affranchis or gens de couleur libres), escaped to New Orleans, tripling the town’s populace. They also contributed Haitian delicacies to Louisiana Creole food, such as red beans and rice as well as mirliton.

Since Haiti’s liberation from the French, France’s influence has stayed strong in the country’s culture, not just in terms of language but also in terms of culinary innovations. hard cheeses, cakes, and pastries from France are still widely available in local supermarkets and marketplaces.

Dining Etiquettes

A dinner invite, if it originates from a member of the lower or upper social classes, is a really formal occasion. It would be okay to dress in anything from casual to formal attire. Even if your friend resides in a village, they expect visitors to act appropriately, and any misbehaviour is considered a disrespect.

Knives and forks are handled in the traditional European manner (the knife remains in the right hand and the fork remains in the left throughout the meal). Whenever the meal is completed, lay the fork and knife all over the right-hand side of the dish opposite to one another.

The most prestigious place at the table would be at the front, as the most significant visitor sitting close to the host’s right. All through dinner, the knife is held in the right and the fork in the left hand.

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