Friday, February 15, 2013

What's Cookin'?

A fun part of learning about a new culture is experiencing their cuisine.  Many times meals are shared to show hospitality to guests and to spend time with family and friends.  Some of my favorite, most meaningful conversations and moments have been shared over a meal.  In the spirit of that sharing and love, this blog post is devoted to presenting some of the Haitian dishes I've been devouring for the past few months.  Please enjoy this crash course in Haitian dining!

Diri kole ak pwa (rice and beans): This is a staple food here and is served with almost every meal.  It comes in several varieties including the one you see here with red beans.

Mayi kole ak pwa (corn with beans): This is ground up corn and once set, it turns into an almost cake-like consistency.  I've decided that this must be the Haitian form of cornbread. 

Boulèt (meatballs): These are little bites of deliciousness!  Inside is ground up meat (not exactly sure which ones...maybe one day I'll ask), flour, and spices.  

Sòs vyann bèf (beef and vegetables in sauce): Beef and chicken are the two meats I'm served the most.  This with the rice and beans is my typical mid-day meal.  One of the best parts of Haitian food is that peppers are used a lot to add a little kick!

Pate Benita: This was first described to me as Haitian pizza and it is truly amazing!  The outside is fried dough and inside you find onions, eggs, cheese, and hotdogs.  There's a woman close to school named Benita who makes some of the best ones.  That is why this pate has her name on it! 

Legim (vegetables): Often my vegetables are served like this.  Sometimes this dish is also served with beef or crab mixed in with the vegetables.

Zaboka ak Fig (avocados & bananas): I realize that everyone has probably seen both of these before, but I had to show off the size of the avocados here.  They're huge and so different from the ones at home that I didn't even know what was given to me the first time I saw one.

Korosòl (soursop): This is another fruit that I had not encountered till I moved here.  A few weeks ago one was given to me and I just kind of looked at it funny and said, "What do I do with this???"  My Haitian friends had a good laugh...thankfully one of them helped me out and made it into juice for me.  It's absolutely delicious and I highly recommend trying it if you ever come across one!  

Bannann fri (fried plantains): This is one of my favorite foods here!  These are often served as a side with goat.  Side note - bannann in Creole means plantain, fig in Creole means banana (there were several very confusing conversations with my Haitian friends till I figured that one out)

Pikliz: The best way to describe this is as spicy coleslaw.  This has quite the punch of flavor to it and is eaten on the bannnann fri.  

Patat fri (fried sweet potatoes): Another yummy food, but one or two of these will fill you up quickly since they are very dense.

Bannann dous fri (sweet fried plantains): These are also quite delicious and make a nice dessert.

Labouyi: This dish has many varieties and is very similar to a sweet porridge.  It is cooked with anise giving it a slightly licorice flavor.  Normally this is eaten in the evenings.

Gato (cake): Okay, so not necessarily a Haitian food, but I had to share with you my first Haitian birthday cake!  Thank you again to all the birthday wishes and love this past Saturday! (Note: my cake did not originally look like that, but Kelsey accidentally sat on the box on ride home.  I think it adds character.)

That's just a little taste of what meals are like here.  Everything has been quite scrumptious and I have already started to make a list of dishes I would like to learn how to make myself.  Thank you my sponsors from these past weeks Paulette Jennis and Don and Yvonne Bingaman.  Also a thank you to my sponsors from this week Bruce and Doris Trant!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

When Worlds Collide

As you read in my last post, I had a special visitor this past week from Virginia!  I was blessed with a visit from my priest, Webster Gibson, the rector of my parish Christ Church in Winchester.  Unfortunately we had a little hiccup in his visit (flight cancellation delaying him a day), but once he finally got here we had a great time together!

After picking up Webster from the airport on Friday, we had an exciting ride back to the hotel.  Part of experiencing Port-au-Prince is going for a ride in the traffic...never a dull moment!  A particularly funny moment of the ride was after the two of us got caught up I started explaining some Haitian things to Webster.  One of which was the tap-taps, a mode of public transportation here (see picture above - we were in a car behind one).  I explained to him that you ride in the back and when you need to get off you tap twice on the ceiling to let the driver know to stop.  As I was telling him this, I banged twice on the roof of the car we were riding in as a demonstration, to which our driver slammed on the breaks....Whoops, guess I'll leave my "tap-tap's" to riding in the tap-taps only!

The rest of evening consisted of more catching up and Webster's delivery of all the love from home.  A big thank you to my family, friends and parish for all of the well wishes and birthday fun!  Your support while I am serving here is so very, very much appreciated!!!

The next morning, we got up early and headed downtown for Webster to fully experience a Saturday at Holy Trinity Music School.  This morning was a little different, since I was helping adjudicate auditions for the youngest orchestra at Holy Trinity.  I must say the children did a great job, especially since this was their first audition!  And Webster was a great sport to sit through every audition with me and Fritz, the conductor of this group.  

Afterwards Webster was given the grand tour of the facilities and observed me teach a flute lesson.  In the picture above my student jokingly told me he forgot his flute and that's me saying "What???"  I'm glad to know my students are feeling comfortable enough to joke around with me now!

In the afternoon I headed to choir rehearsal; normally i just sing but this time I helped the students with a song they were doing in English.  I was asked to aid with the pronunciation of the lyrics to which I said a silent prayer in my head to not mess them up too badly!

On Sunday morning Webster came and delivered the sermon for both the English and French services at St. Jacques.  I especially enjoyed listening to the translated version during the French service.  Favorite moment: No one knowing how to translate the word "faithful," leading to a brief pause and some laughter.  

Another beautiful moment was watching my priest stand side-by-side with Pére David to serve the communion.  We were one big family with no one excluded not even the smallest (as you can see above!).  It was fantastic to see the two parts of my worlds come together again! 

The rest of our Sunday was spent relaxing and reflecting; as always I appreciated the conversation and wisdom.  Taking a step back to reflect is a vital part of serving and I was grateful to have Webster here to chat with and to help me see my ministry from a different point of view.  Sadly on Monday afternoon, he headed back to Virginia, but I am so happy for the time were we able to spend together (he was also happy for a reprise from the winter cold!).