By Annick Megie/Images © Tchakayiti
As simple as the task to shortlist four dishes that Haitians enjoy sounds, I could not get it done. No, not at all! There are so many wonderful flavours to discover over on our side of the region that it seemed difficult, if not impossible, to come up with just four recommendations.
So I decided to turn to Twitter for advice. Little did I know that the list of suggestions would be longer than mine. I ended up with a list of 20 recommendations for Haitian foods that are a must to try, each item tastier than the former; a list I cannot possibly share with you in just one article.
Instead, I narrowed it down based on the current season. Since summer is here, allow me to serve you four of my favourite beach flavours, enjoyed over in my wonderful homeland – Haiti.
1. Lambi Boucané (Grilled Conch)
While lying lazily in a hammock on one of Haiti’s pristine beaches, sampling some coconut water from freshly picked coconuts make sure to request some lambi boucané.
Prepared right on the beach on makeshift charcoal grills, lambi boucané is a heavenly taste of our Haitian waters.
You simply cannot fully embrace a Haitian beach experience without a dozen of these grilled mollusks, freshly caught by divers close to the shore.
Don’t forget to ask, if you can handle it, that it be enhanced with the lime flavoured hot sauce made with our famous piment bouc – the seller will most likely be carrying some in a recycled rum bottle. If you cannot stand the heat, don’t worry. You can cool it off with some more coconut water.
P.S – If you don’t get the opportunity to enjoy some of our lambi boucané, you can still treat your tastebuds to a sweet taste of the ocean, right from the comforts of your home with this Lambi Grille (Grilled Lambi) recipe.
2. Veritab Peze (Twice-fried Breadfruit)
You can enjoy that lambi with some fritay (fried food). I suggest veritab peze. Now bannann peze (twice-fried plantains) would be more popular, but where’s the fun in going the traditional and easy route?
The breadfruit is cut into chunks, which are fried once until crisp and golden brown then pressed and fried a second time. They come out crispy on the outside while still chewy on the inside. Get the recipe here.
3. Pikliz (Spicy Pickled Slaw)
For a full Haitian experience, top those veritab with some pikliz, a spicy mix of finely shredded raw cabbage, carrots, shallots, onions and hot peppers. Yes, more heat! Don’t worry, you can soothe your palate with some sweet dessert later. My recommendation? A douce escape. Get pikliz recipe here.
4. Dous or douce
What Haitians refer to as douce are either fruit or nut sweets prepared in a syrup to which milk can be added. There are many different flavours ranging from kokoye (coconut), pistach (peanuts), lèt (milk) or anana (pineapple), among others.
If you are coming from the Côtes des Arcadins, make sure to try some tablèt pistach (peanut brittle) in Cabaret. Caramelized under the sun, they are gooey and heavenly. On the other hand, if you come from the South and pass through Petit-Goâve, try some dous makòs, a concentrated milk douce composed of five different coloured layers.
If none of those cities are close to your route, worry not. You can still indulge in some dous kokoye at home. All you will need is some coconut milk and this recipe.
And there you have it, a tasty beach day in Hait. And what better way is there to indulge, than a relaxing day on an exotic Caribbean beach, discovering delicous Haitian foods.
Tell us your favourite Haitian foods in the comments below!