Tuesday, April 6, 2010











Above is a goat's head being cooked. The next picture shows the plantain being fried. The covered cooking pot contains rice being boiled. The red mixture is the goat's blood being cooked down. Underneath the pot of boiling blood, you can see the ash from the burnt charcoal.
All cooking is done on charcoal which is made by burning wood. This is an extensive industry as it is really the only source of fuel for cooking. There are no electric ovens or natural gas for the majority of people.
Rice seems to be a big part of the diet in Haiti. Sometimes it is served with dark mushrooms mixed in, other times there are beans. The other common staple is plantain or "bananas". They are rather hard non-sweet bananas that are fried. First, they are cut into large chunks and then "mashed" into flatten pieces. They do this using two blocks (I think they are made of wood) which are the size and shape of hockey pucks. They are then placed in cooking oil.
If there is meat served it is usually goat; it's very common. Unlike other animals, goats eat whatever they can. No need for a diet of fresh grass, grain, oats or hay. Other times there is chicken. All meat is freshly killed the day it is eaten. I am sure that it lasts several days, but the point is that there is no grocery store with the meat all neatly wrapped in cellophane. Perhaps there are stores like this in Port au Prince, but if there are, I doubt there are many (at least not like here). When there is meat, there is also some murky reddish brown sauce to pour over the rice. Floating on top of the sauce are onions cut in rings. I believe it is made with parts of the meat being served.

One night there was a large plate of what looked like crumbled and fried hamburger meat. It was actually the cooked blood of the goat we would eat the next few days.

Most meals that I have had also have a plate of cooked and finely chopped vegetables. These are usually beets, potatoes and carrots. Sometimes there will be shredded cabbage and carrots mixed together.

There are no desserts.

Breakfast is sometimes bread and peanut butter to spread, coffee, a kind of spaghetti with hint of vegetables and a little tomato sauce. Usually there is a large bowl of plantain bananas floating in a thick watery soup.

It sounds rather dire, but I must say, the flavors are really good.

When I have talked to Haitians or when we are meeting people or children at orphanages or at a soup feeding kitchen, sometimes I hear that they haven't eaten in a day, sometimes in two days. Remember this is not Port au Prince, but up in the Central Plateau. This area did not suffer damage from the earthquake, but they are receiving many displaced people from the capital and these displaced people are placing strains on the limited resources of the already poor local people there.

There is no starvation that I have seen, but there is not an over abundance of food. My impression is that a good portion of the day is spent finding / procuring food, retrieving water or making fire to cook. From the look of some of the children, I strongly suspect that malnutrition is common and that many people, young and old pass a day without food.

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