I am that Haitian…

I did not know I was that Haitian…until I became that Haitian again. By that Haitian, I mean the Haitian whose stomach and palate don’t sing in unison unless they come in contact with typical Haitian food. I mean the Haitian who clings herself to Haitian cuisine as her only lifeline. The Haitian who lives off of “diri, sòs pwa, vyann, bannann.”

Diri, sòs pwa, vyann, bannann?

Rice, bean sauce, meat and plantain, the typical Haitian menu. 

See, Haitian families serve this menu at dinner daily. A table proves incomplete if it does not feature those items in one form or another. I believe I told you all about our love for rice in a previous article. I also paid tribute to our sòs pwa. But, I never really told you about their pairings, and how deeply we cherish them. Truth is, I remained oblivious.

I recently rediscovered how my body longs for this menu.

This very same menu I would have called monotone saying it needed an upgrade. The very same menu I often cursed under my breath at dinner time, longing for a more creative meal.

Now, I know, I have been celebrating Haitian cuisine on this blog for years, so you’d think I always knew my body needed this particular cuisine for its survival. Yet, I was oblivious to that reality. It took me spending over a year not eating the “Haitian way” for me to realize how much our culinary traditions are ingrained in me. My own body reacted by inflaming itself. I can hear your eye rolls, but hear me out. 

See, I spent an entire year, never eating the typical “diri, sòs pwa, vyann, bannann” meal. And I was miserable. I ate meat and vegetables daily. I even cooked the meals myself. Yet, I was never satisfied. I gained weight while never satiating my appetite because I compensated by snacking.

Now, after my year-long hiatus, I understand that my body was craving that “Haitian menu.”

My body needs it to thrive. I can proudly say that I am back to being that Haitian I didn’t know I was. I eat “diri, sòs pwa, vyann, bannann” daily again. And the joy it brings my whole being surpasses any other foreign meal. I dropped quite a few pounds in the process of relinking my palate to its past as well. 

That is why, this Easter Sunday, even though I was cooking for one, I whipped up a full Haitian-style feast. 

On my menu this Easter: leek tarte tatin, bannann peze, lamb rack crusted with chopped Haitian epis and ti bonm – yes, I chopped every single ingredient of our traditional epis to encrust my chops – and rice, of course, the dish that wraps our meals together. I even prepared dessert by remaking a chocolate passion fruit cake I had whipped up once for my birthday a few years back. 

Leek Pie - Tarte Tatin | Tchakayiti - Haitian Food

These past years have been rough. But now, I know how to alleviate the pain. I need to feed myself the Haitian way, and that includes cooking full Haitian meals, throwing Sunday feasts, and celebrating the little moments in the same fashion we all did growing up when life as a Haitian living in Haiti was so much simpler. I now know that I am that Haitian who needs to be fed the Haitian way.

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