Back at the end of 2009 when I announced the ‘south-of-the-border’ Culinary Tour itinerary, Haiti was to be stop #8. Several weeks later, the world was horrified by the devastating news of the earthquake. Since then, I’ve struggled with what to do. Would it be more respectful to cancel the stop? Or would now, more than ever, be a good time to embrace Haiti in the way we know best by celebrating its people and food? I decided to keep to the schedule but, instead of cooking, I chose to engage with the local Haitian community by patronizing Tropical Island, a Haitian restaurant in Boynton Beach. This is Lovely who works at the restaurant. Her momma named her well!
My decision to ‘eat out’ was threefold. (1) I hoped spending money in the community would offer some additional measure of support and solidarity. (2) It introduced me to a restaurant and people I might not have ever interacted with. (3) Although I don’t have recipes, it provides readers with a glimpse of authentic Haitian food, which I totally enjoyed. Each dish was full-flavored with a hint of heat from the scotch bonnet peppers.
Like any good foodie, I no sooner closed the refrigerator door on the leftovers from dinner when I started to think about what to do with them. It was an early lunch the next day.
I took the chill off the rice and conch and then created layers of flavor. From the bottom up: arugula, rice + peas tossed with a bit of cider vinegar, a little bit of the picklese, strained stewed conch, topped with crispy plantain which I minced and fried with garlic and salt. Trés bon!
Let us not forget Haiti and its beautiful people. The food blogging community made an immediate (and continuing response) to the call for aid. There have been fund-raiser dinners, raffles, and personal transference of ad revenues among numerous endeavors. One such effort, H2Ope for Haiti has extended its one-week online raffle to March 7. You’ve got another week to buy a raffle ticket and bid for the item of your choice.
I believe the whole world responded with generosity and open hearts. It is my sincere hope bureacracy does not get in the way of recovery for the Haitian people…but I worry.
Haiti Round-Up: Wednesday, March 3
Next Stop: Cuba, March 8