One of the best way to truly learn about a country's culture its trough its food, and Haiti's Cuisine is famous for Its robust, spicy, full of pungent flavor that will leave you asking for more after the very first bite.
Haitian Cuisine is an amazing blending of tropical tastes and multicultural influences. The result of a mixture of different culinary styles from the various ethnic group that populated Haiti; French, African, and Taino/Arawak, are the most notable culinary techniques implemented, but its evolution throughout centuries, and also a touch from the new waves of immigrants in the early 20th Century from the Middle-East; namely Lebanon and Syria, set Haiti's cooking styles apart from Its' neighbors, in Latin America and the Caribbean. Haitian cooking involves the extensive use of staples condiments: Spices and herbs that are very easy to find throughout the country; most common are scallion, garlic, thyme, parsley, onions, cloves, black pepper... red peppers are extensively used, rendering dishes mildly spicy; unlike Cuban and Jamaican cooking styles which are known to be "hot" due to liberal use of peppers. Let's start with the most common dishes of Haitian Cuisine.
The national dish of Haiti is a very simple one: Yellow Rice and red beans with meat, usually chicken, is served alongside. It might be simple, but it is the taste that really counts and trust me, its delicious. It's preparation consists of scallions, garlic, red peppers, cubes seasoning mashed together in a pilon, the result is fried in olive oil until it turns brown; then the red bean is added, as well as some salt, and about a tablespoon of tomato paste. Under a medium heat, stir and let the flavors blend together for about 2 to three minutes. Then add water, according to the amount of rice you intend to cook, stick a couple of cloves in a hot pepper. see picture of Soup Joumou below for an example. (I would recommend this type of pepper); add it in, turn your heat to high and cover your pot. When the water comes to a broil, you might add your rice. Stir; make sure everything is completely mixed together. Turn down your heat to medium and let the rice cook. After the absorption of the water by the rice, again; stir, now bring the heat to low, cover and leave for another 15-20 minutes, then ready to serve. Bon appetit!
Native to Haiti, Soup Joumou is a savory, mildly spicy soup, with a making history going back to the 17ᵗʰ century by the french colonialist who ruled Haiti at the time. The main ingredient is butternut squash and beef stew meat with additions of numerous different spice and vegetables. such as potato, carrot, turnips, onions, yam, celery, parsley, cabbage and other vegetables depending on family tradition, or personal preference. Thin pasta such as vermicelli and Macaroni are also added. Here is the recipe. It's consumption was forbidden to the slaves by the masters; according to story telling passed from one generation to the next, the soup reflected the skin color of the white masters and since the slaves had a dark skin there were forbidden from having it. They made it for them, but couldn't consume it, in fear of severe punishments. after the Independence of Haiti on January 1st 1804, every slaves celebrated the event by having a huge bowl of Soup Joumou. The tradition remains the same since. On New Year's Day, Soup Joumou is consumed at every Haitian household. Soup Joumou is not only a delicious bowl of soup, but a bowl of history.
Literally translating into vegetables, legumes is one of the most popular Haitian dish. It is a thick vegetables stew, consisting of a mashed mixture of eggplants, spinach, cabbage, chayote, watercress, and other vegetables depending on the cook's preference. Garlic, scallion, hot peppers and tomato paste are added as flavor enhancement. Legume is generally cooked with beef and crabs; and served with rice or Mayi Moulen (grits).