One of the greatest pleasures of mountain life in Haiti is to be able to stop along the way during a walk to enjoy nature and its fruits. One of my favorite activities were indeed our long walks on the road to Kenscoff where wild berries, as we call them in Haiti, grow in abundance. These purple berries are found on thorny shrubs along a path, trail or road in the hills of Fort Jacques and Kenscoff. The darker these berries, the less bitter they are and the better they taste.
These berries helped me regain strength during my long walks with my father, uncles, aunts and family friends. Though they were handpicked from a thorny shrub, the wild berries were the delight of those almost two-hour-long walks to Kenscoff, and gave me the energy I needed to keep going. They were the prelude to many delightful treats once we reached our final destination. Indeed, Kenscoff, thanks to its rich agriculture, offered us upon arrival a feast of fruits, which we savored before heading back home. It was our favorite way, and the tastiest one at that, to refuel our bodies.
It’s been years since I last ate those wild berries. We don’t even have any in our backyard at home anymore. We replaced these wild shrubs by other, less thorny berries. The sole survivor of the family in our yard is the one they call “rezen,” in Kenscoff. I am taking the liberty of using the Creole spelling because these are nowhere close to real grapes. Unlike strawberries, “rezen” are elongated berries that grow on a tree so big that picking the fruits is difficult. They are called “rezen” because they actually look like tiny grapes stuck together on one edible stem.
Dear reader, if you find these wild berries in abundance I suggest you make some ice cream, some juice, milk juice, or simply enjoy them freshly picked as I often did throughout my childhood.