This January marks the three year anniversary of the the catastrophic earthquake that devastated the island nation of Haiti. According to Caribbean Journal, Haiti’s ministry of tourism hopes to initiate a string of high priority development projects in 2013 to bring travelers back to this beautiful country. These projects include a few collaborations with airlines, specifically Delta, Airfrance, and Air Transat. Chef José Andrés is also working with the Haitian government to promote the local gastronomy of Haiti through Solar for Hope, a development project that brings solar stoves to displaced families. These stoves not only provide a way for Haitian women to cook for their families, but also elevates some of the deforestation problem created from the traditional wood-burning stoves. the Solar for Hope project really embodies the slogan in the development world to help Haiti “Build Back Better”. Food and Wine magazine tracked Chef Andrés’ travels through Haiti and the Chef spoke at a DC Ted event about his work with these stoves.
Haitian cuisine, while similar to the foods of neighboring Caribbean islands, carries distinct French and Creole influences. When I visit someday, I would love to try the Lambi a la Creole (a savory dish of conch simmered in Creole sauce), Riz Djon Djon ( Rice in black mushroom sauce), Pikliz (Spicy carrots and cabbage salad), and wash everything down with a a glass of Cremas made with the famous Rhum Barbancourt.
But right now, what Haiti needs more than tourists, is continued support from the international community. Even though it’s been three years since the earthquake, Haiti is still in the middle of rebuilding infrastructure and relocating people to permanent homes. If I have the opportunity, I would like to go to Haiti and stay for a while as a long-term volunteer, learn creole, and grow with a community. A great book to read if you are interested in traveling to Haiti is Farewell, Free Voodoo: A Letter from Haiti by Amy Wilentz. She writes,
I prepared to be very, very frightened…instead, I was dazzled. The crescening mountains and the flat green valley. And then the desertified wasteland that spills toward the Caribbean – the brown, then green, the blue waters reaching out and away – seemed to explain everything to me, all at once.
Her writing was my invitation to visit and I would like share this invitation to you. Hope to see you there!