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Origins of Haitian Cuisine

By | Food | 644 Comments

Haitian cuisine is inspired by its location, climate, and history. Haiti occupies the western third of the island of Hispaniola, located in the Caribbean (the Dominican Republic occupies the eastern two thirds). According to Food in Every Country, crops like avocados, coffee, cocoa beans, coconuts, oranges, limes, and mango grow in the wild.

The site goes on to report that throughout its history, several foreign countries colonized and gained control of Haiti, introducing food and ideas from their native lands, which greatly affected the food Haitians ate. The Taino Natives, France, Spain, and the continent of Africa have all played significant roles in shaping the cuisine.

As early as 5000 BC, hunter gatherers inhabited the island. They cultivated a wide range of fruits and vegetables, including guavas, corn, papayas, and sweet potatoes. In 1492, Christopher Columbus landed on the island and claimed it for the Spanish, who almost wiped out the native population with disease and forced labor by the early sixteenth century. The Spanish then began importing African slaves to the island, which was then called La Isla Espanola. These Africans introduced okra, taro (edible root), and various spices to the island. (They later introduced rice and beans as well.)

By the eighteenth century, the French had taken control of the Haitian part of the Island, which the Taino had called Ayiti. They continued using slaves to produce sugarcane, coffee, and cocoa. Haitians won their independence from France in 1804, but French culture still influences their cuisine. You can still find French cheeses and desserts in many local markets today.

When it comes to today, Haiti’s main food influences include French and Creole culture. Their use of strong spices distinguishes them from other Caribbean islands. Many dishes come from a pesto base, and others from a foundation of green onions, thyme, parsley, peppers, and garlic. Starchy foods are among the most common staples. Riz et pois (rice and beans) are the national dish. Djon-djon, or black rice and beans, are a native staple. Locally grown Haitian mushrooms are used to dye the rice black, and the mushrooms as well as lima beans top the rice. Calalou, another main dish, is composed of crab meat, salted pork, spinach, onion, okra, and peppers. Pork is popular, though usually fried for flavor. Conch meat is popular around the coast. For dessert, pain patate is popular. This pudding is made with sweet potato, fig, and banana pudding.

As a result of European and African influences, many Haitians practice Catholicism and Voodoo, a mixture of Christianity and African animism (belief in spirits and nature). For Catholic Haitians, important holidays (such as Christmas and Easter) are marked by celebration dinners. Fried pork, pikliz (pickled carrots and cabbage), fried plantains, Haitian bread, and pineapple nog are common Christmas staples. National holidays, regardless of belief, are also popular. On All Souls’ Day (Day of the Dead), loved ones who have passed away are honored and celebrated with food and drink. Pumpkin soup is eaten for lunch on Sundays; it is also eaten on New Year’s Day for good luck.

At Bon Appetit Haitian Restaurant, you can enjoy an impressive array of Haitian cuisine. In fact, our mission is to provide you with such an exceptional experience, you will return time and time again. The culinary team at Bon Appetit Haitian Restaurant is talented, experienced, and dedicated to providing superior authentic Haitian dining. Our food will transport you to the world of fine Haitian dining with one bite! When you dine with us, you’re guaranteed an unforgettable dining experience. Take a trip to Haiti without stepping foot on a plane.

Source:

“Haiti.” Food in Every Country. Unknown date. http://www.foodbycountry.com/Germany-to-Japan/Haiti.html

Food Allergy Information

By | Food | No Comments

At Bon Appetit Haitian Restaurant, we’re committed to making the dining experience of every guest, including our guests with food allergies, an exceptional one. We sincerely hope this information will help you make informed food selections.

The information we are able to provide details which menu items contain the most common allergens and intolerances, based on the information provided by our suppliers. While we work to keep this information as up-to-date as possible, we recommend you check our allergen information each time you dine with us.

Because all of our dishes are prepared-to-order, our normal kitchen operations may involve shared cooking and preparation areas. Therefore, we cannot guarantee that any menu item can be completely free of allergens. Items cooked on our grill or in our fryer present a special risk for cross-contamination, so we’ve clearly identified those for you.

Procedures to Minimize Cross-Contamination

When you tell your server that you have a food allergy, they will add this information to your order. This will alert kitchen staff that you have a food allergy and will trigger several processes, including staff changing gloves and serving utensils. Each of our managers has completed a food safety course, which includes basic information about food allergies, in addition to safe food handling practices.

Even with processes and procedures in place, please be aware that we are not an allergen-free facility, and we cannot guarantee that any item is free of any allergen. While we regret that this may disappoint some guests, we feel strongly about being transparent about what we can and cannot guarantee.

Allergen Information Provided: The “Top 8”

Because the FDA requires and regulates allergen labeling for the ”top 8” (milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, soy, wheat), we’re able source this allergen information from our suppliers. At this time, we can only retrieve allergen information for the “top 8.”

Separate Fryers

We do not have a separate fryer at this time. This means any food that is in the fryer can come in contact with most of the major allergens, including: wheat (and gluten), shellfish, dairy, soy and egg.

Questions?

If your questions cannot be answered by the allergen guide, please contact us by phone at (317)-982-7339.

Rice with goat and salad

Introduction to the Haitian Culinary Experience

By | Food | 20,797 Comments

Food is an essential part of the Haitian culture, and one Haitians are proud to bring to the United States. According to an article by the University of New England, Haitian cuisine is most strongly influenced by African and French flavors; however, there also is a presence of Spanish and Indian-inspired flavors, giving Haitian food a vibrant mix of cultural influences and a rich historical background. There is something for every palette in the world of Haitian dining!

Staple meats include beef, goat, pork, chicken, turkey, and of course, fish. Haitians also enjoy a variety of beans and black-eyed peas. Fruits and vegetables are also a huge influence, the most popular of which include avocados, plantains, bananas, breadfruit, limes, mangoes, papayas, corn, chiles, arrowroot, peppers, sweet potatoes, and much more.

Because of the lack of access to fresh vegetables, black beans and rice are a common staple. Griyo (fried pork), tassot (dried meat), and citrus-marinated chicken are popular meat dishes. Conch is also popular, and can be cooked in a few different ways. Pikliz (pickled cabbage and vegetables) is used as a condiment, complimenting many meat dishes. It can be grated or shredded, served in a vinegar base, and is often dashed with chili peppers. Soup and stews are commonplace, with joumou (pumpkin soup) being one of the most celebrated. The soup is eaten on New Year’s day or Haiti’s independence day. Slaves in Haiti were not allowed to eat joumou as it was considered superior: the dish commemorates freedom from slavery.

Rum is perhaps the most popular alcoholic beverage in the country, followed closely by beer. Haitians also enjoy a variety of desserts, with pain patate (sweet potato bread pudding) as one of the most beloved. Aside from sweet potatoes, the dessert is also made with freshly grated coconut, coconut milk, butter, sugar, crushed ripe bananas, and whole milk. Blan manje (a light dessert prepared cold and with coconut milk) and Haitian fudge are also celebrated desserts.

The article from University of New England goes on to explain that traditional Haitian kitchens are often outdoors. Families do not always have running water or electricity. Food is often fried and at low cost in curbside restaurants or over charcoal stoves. People often do not have access to refrigeration, so the food is more likely to be prepared fresh.

Today, Haitian chefs are becoming more and more proud of their origins and want their patrons to experience them. They discuss their food with the same pride that defines their food culture. Haitian food is not only delicious, its inclusion in American society opens the door for the United States to become a more culturally diverse place to live, work, and play, giving way to a brighter, more inclusive future that Bon Appetit Haitian Restaurant is thrilled to be a part of.

The culinary team at Bon Appetit Haitian Restaurant is talented, experienced, and dedicated to bringing superior authentic Haitian dining to the United States. Bon Appetit Haitian Restaurant delivers the finest for any occasion and will always make your mouth water. Our dishes are infused with the freshest local ingredients along with passion and care. Our mission is to ensure each customer’s dining experience is so far above and beyond their expectations, they will return time and time again. Come in and take a trip to Haiti with one bite!