I realized in the Haitian community, vegetarians are looked upon almost as favorably as thieves or heretics. And amongst older Haitians, that attitude is prevalent. Upon arrival to a friends house, I informed her mother I am not eating meat. After she looked at me with that distinguishable Haitian look of disgust, she simply said, "You kids are always trying to be like these crazy white Americans, don't you see they are full of problems". Who knew amidst the discussion of assimilation and Americanization, not eating some *griot* for a while would be part of the dialogue? Indeed, it was. Later in my vegetarian exploration, I went out with a friend to a restaurant, and he ordered some fried goat and I got myself some white rice with *sos pwa *and some macaroni au gratin. As he raved about the *tassot*, he went to put some in my mouth and I quickly pulled away. He looked at me again with that disappointed look. His eyes were glaring at me as if to shout: SELLOUT.
What is the big deal I asked myself. It's me that's no longer eating certain things, why is everyone so disappointed and upset with me. But then I
started to figure it out. The disappointment wasn't so much in the fact that I was a vegetarian per say, but more so in the fact that I was rejecting,
what appeared to be, part of Haitian culture. It's rare to encounter a Haitian born in Haiti to tell you that they don't eat this, or they don'teat that. That is such an American thing to do.
But even more importantly: food is indeed a bonding experience among friends, family and lovers. So to be sitting around a dinner table with someone who simply can't have this, that or the other, is a tad bit, to say the least annoying. I have since added seafood back into my diet, however, the journey helped me re-discover a variety of foods from my childhood in Haiti that I had almost forgotten. In my determination not to eat rice everyday, I was forced to explore. I got reintroduce to Yuca(*Manyok*), Plantains, different yams, and other starchy root vegetables, Spinach, Pigeon peas, variety of soups, mayi Moulin and spinach and wide array of other tropical staples. Being in this country, we are spoiled with the abundance of affordable meat options at every corner.
While you may not want to lead a vegetarian lifestyle, exploring the option for a day or two may help rekindle your loveaffair with some of your childhood favorites. *Mazonbel* anyone?
Quick Easy Recipe for those of you who remember Mazonbel, but no real ideas on how to make it fun and interesting.
Mashed Breadfruit with Smoked Herring two whole breadfruits(mazonbel) boneless smoked herring(1/2p ound)
1 whole chopped medium Onion
6 chopped Chalots
1/2 chopped green pepper
1/2 chopped red pepper salt
pinch of scotch bonnet pepper
Peel breadfruits. Cut into quarters. Bring 2 quarts of water to boil Add breadfruit. Add salt to taste. boil for about 30 minutes or until tender.
(knife easily sinks in)
Remove breadfruit from water. Add in bowl. Mash with potato masher.
Soak Herring in warm water for about 3-5 hours, continuously changing water. Do this all while squeezing in the water to remove excess salt. Once its not longer too salty, remove from water and squeeze out any excess water.
In separate sautee pan, put 3 tablespoon olive oil. add chopped onions,peppers and chalots. sautee until translucent. Add Herring. sautee for about 4 minutes. season with garlic and onion powder lightly.
place mashed breadfruit in plate. top with herring, and serve.