Around the World in 80 Plates: Port-au-Prince, Haiti

Haiti is a small island country in the Caribbean, and has its own unique cuisine that has been influenced by the island’s wide variety of people who moved to, or were forcibly brought, to the island over the course of the last 500 or so years. This island used to be called Hispaniola, and it is where Christopher Colombus landed his ships and mistakenly thought he was in India. Once he realized he was not in India, he proceeded to colonize the island and take as many things of value back to Europe as he could. He also brought many Europeans, primarily Spanish and French to the island when he returned, who then brought slaves from Africa to work on their plantations and in the fields. The anchor of Christopher Columbus’s largest ship, the Santa María now rests in the Musée du Panthéon National Haïtien, in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.

Because of the global influences since the late 1400s, Haitian food is like nothing else and is worth trying out! It has tasty fish and shellfish, tropical fruit, spicy chiles, rice, beans, and is even the first recorded place to use the word barabicu, which is now better known as barbecue! 1

There are many recipes for spicy grilled chicken or goat, and Haitian barbecue chicken is similar to Jamaican Jerked chicken, with lots of spices and hot chiles in the marinade. Grilled fish, shellfish, vegetables and fruit are also popular, as is slow roasted pork. Because of the tropical climate, food is always growing, and fruit is always available fresh so its served at most meals either whole, as juice, or added to desserts.

No matter what they are cooking on their barbecue, you can be certain you’ll find beans and rice served as a side at both lunch and dinner. Combining these two ingredients also creates a complete protein, meaning it has all the amino acids (building blocks) that your body needs to keep your muscles healthy and moving! This is great for many Haitians, because they almost all play football (our soccer) and baseball. Its easy to be outside and moving when the weather is nearly always sunny and hot! Swimming in the ocean, and hiking to the top of their mountains are also popular ways to keep moving. Many people find that riding their bike is an easy way to get around and stay fit too.

Resources: 1-https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Haitian_cuisine, 2-

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