The 12:00pm bells are ringing. It’s Friday. School is officially out. A swarm of bees in blue uniform gathers around an ice cream and popsicle vendor.
« 1 crème tamarin, 1 crème kokoye, 2 crèmes grenadia, 1 crème chocolat, 3 crèmes fraise, 2 crèmes pomme…monsieur, monsieur… »
(1 tamarind popsicle, 1 coconut popsicle, 2 passion fruit popsicles, 1 chocolate popsicle, 3 strawberry popsicles, 2 apple popsicles…sir, sir….)
Their loud voices echo in the distance. The overwhelmed yet happy seller is in for a long hour. He does his best to quickly fulfill these young demanding girls’ requests. I, of course, am part of this chaotic group. I am the one who shouting about the tamarind popsicle. My fifteen gourdes in the form of adoquin in hand, I scream at the top of my lungs “monsieur, monsieur, crème tamarin, crème tamarin.” I am desperate to get my tamarind popsicle before he runs out of that flavor.
It is a hot Friday. The sun is at its peak. I have been waiting for hours for the school bell to ring so that I can cool off with a crème tamarin. My face brightens up as soon as the vendor hands me one. I quickly unwrap my syrupy popsicle. I bite into it, and it disappears in just a few minutes. If only I could have a second one. But I already left the school premises, and the vendor is far behind. I hold onto the wooden stick which I suck on for as long as I can smiling as I remember the cold tamarind treat I just had…
Such are the images that came to mind when, a week ago, I received a bag full of tamarinds.
While savoring those fruits, I pictured my young 5-year-old self perched at the classroom window, the same from my sour tamarind story. A few days later, I was recalling those tamarind popsicles or crème tamarin as we call them in Haiti. For a fraction of a second, I saw the ice cream vendor and his yellow cart with its yellow umbrella surrounded by these loud schoolgirls, my fellow classmates and me.
These are the wonderful memories that encouraged me to finally make some tamarind popsicles last weekend. I was so eager to get them right that I was still in the kitchen at eleven at night. I had prepared a first batch earlier in the day, but the fruit pulp had created a deposit at the bottom of my popsicle maker. I had added too much liquid to the mix. Luckily, I still had some tamarinds left. So, at that late hour in the night, I stood in front of my stove extracting the pulp from the fruit for a second batch of tamarind popsicles. And I was successful. The next day, I got to enjoy my very first homemade crème tamarin with a smile on my face.
These tamarind popsicles took me down a marvelous memory lane. While I may not have had wooden sticks, I got to savor flavors from my childhood. For a few minutes, I turned into that schoolgirl who enjoyed countless crème tamarind after a hot day at school. And it was heaven.
Haitian tamarind popsicles
- 12-15 tamarind pods
- 2 cups of water
- 1/3 cup of sugar
- 1 juice of lime
- Peel the tamarind
- Transfer them to a pot with the two (2) cups of water
- Bring to a boil
- Let simmer until the mixture thickens up
- Turn the heat off
- Mash the fruits so as to separate them from the seeds
- Strain the liquid out. It will be really thick
- Add the sugar
- Add the lime juice and mix well
- Pour your tamarind puree in some popsicle molds
- Enjoy on a hot summer day