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Haitian Food Specialties

Haiti is a small country in the Carribean that shares the island of Hispaniola with the Dominican Republic. Despite its small size, it is home to over one million people, making it one of the most populous Carribean countries. Despite that, many people are unaware of the culture or society of Haiti. One of the most important ways that people share culture is through food, and Haitian food summarizes the culture of the country spectacularly. Many of these dishes bear similarities to other dishes that are more well-known throughout the Americas.

Diri ak djon djon

One of the key staples of Haitian food is Diri ak djon djon, or black rice. The name of the dish comes from the djon djon mushroom, a type of fungus that grows in the island country. The djon djon mushroom has become a key part of Haitian food and culture because of its taste and color. Although the stems are inedible, the caps of the mushrooms give the rice a black color and umami flavor. Black rice is often served as a side dish to the main meat course in a Haitian meal.

Griyo (Griot)

Giryo, or griot, is often the main meat dish that is accompanied by diri ak djon djon. This Haitian food staple is pork that is generally boiled before being fried. The initial cooking softens the pork, while the frying creates a crispy layer on the outside of the meat. This combination of a crispy outer layer and a soft, succulent center creates a mouth-water dish that is loved by all.

Bannann Peze

Most Central and South American countries have a take on the fried plantain dish. Bannann Peze is the Haitian culture in a fried plantain dish. Plantains are flattened before frying, usually twice in oil. The first fry of the plantain browns and cooks it, while the second fry adds to the crispy, carnival-like texture that is associated with fried foods.

Bulgur Wheat

Bulgur wheat is a type of grain that is made from whole-grain kernels of wheat. The kernels are often boiled for a short amount of time before they are dried. While bulgur wheat isn’t a dish, many different kinds of Haitian food use bulgur wheat as a main ingredient. Among these, the two that sum up Haitian culture the most are labouyi ble and kibi. Labouyi Ble is a type of porridge made from bulgur wheat. The wheat is boiled before being blended with water and strained. It is then mixed with warm spices, like cinnamon, star anise, and nutmeg, then mixed with butter and served warm or cooled. Kibi, or kibbeh, is a type of Haitian food that bears a lot of similarities to Arabic culture and food. Derived from foods like samosas, kibi is generally made from meat, usually beef or lamb, and is mixed with onions and power spices. The spicy mixture is then stuffed into a shell, often made from bulgur wheat, and fried until it is crispy and served hot.