Day 18: The Pearl of the Antilles
 

Haiti is called the "Pearl of the Antilles."  This name is due to its natural beauty.  For a country so beautiful, its past is disproportionately marred as a victim of human evil.  The Spanish killed off the native population and imported slaves to work.  Haiti was fertile, had good irrigation, and was the perfect environment to grow many valuable crops (Coffee, Cocoa, Sugar, Tobacco, Cotton, etc).  After it was ceded to France, it soon to become the richest colony of any European power at that time.  It accounted for an estimated 50% of the GDP of France in 1750; the French would import, refine, and package the wealth of natural recourses from Haiti.  In 1791 the slaves rose up and successfully executed the first slave revolution which resulted in their freedom by 1798.  As a result of many outside influences, Haiti has struggled to recapture the wealth it once had and is currently the poorest country in the western hemisphere.  Due to its connection with the Spanish and French, and with the slave trade from Africa, Haiti is deeply rooted in Catholicism and Yoruba (an African tribal religion that many people popularly refer to as Voodoo).   Culinarily, Haiti shares in the regional flavors of the Caribbean.

Ke Bef (Ox Tail) 

Many cultures have dishes that are born out of efficient use animals, which results in not throwing anything away.  This is often a result of poverty.  What begins as a dish of what is considered by many to be "throw away" parts, often transforms into modern delicacies.  There are several Central and South American dishes that fall into this category: fajitas and beef tongue just to name a couple. Ke Bef in Haiti is such a dish.  Prior to its popularity, such a dish is relatively cheap to eat, and when cooked properly is quite delicious.   Order the dish today, and it carries a heftier price (as does beef tongue and fajitas).  Stewed Ke Bef is tender and savory as the tail is not a strong working muscle.  This dish is paired with twice fried plantains.  These take on a crispier and saltier flavor than the more common sweet plantains.

 

Ke Bef (Ox Tail) 


Poul Fri (Grilled Chicken)

Sharing in the Caribbean culinary tradition, Poul Fri is their take on what we could call Jerk Chicken.  It is noticeably less spicy than the Jamaican counterpart.  

Poul Fri (Grilled Chicken)

Tasso Bef (Fried Beef)

Tasso Bef is fried beef.  As this is not a common beef cooking method for most people, it is worth trying.  Frying the beef gives it a dry, almost crunchy, texture.  This is dipped into a savory sauce when eaten.

 

Tasso Bef (Fried Beef)