Strictly Facts: A Guide to Caribbean History and Culture

From Soup Joumou to Flying Fish & Cou-Cou: Exploring Caribbean Food Stories through Haitian and Bajan Cuisine

July 10, 2024 Alexandria Miller Episode 87
From Soup Joumou to Flying Fish & Cou-Cou: Exploring Caribbean Food Stories through Haitian and Bajan Cuisine
Strictly Facts: A Guide to Caribbean History and Culture
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Strictly Facts: A Guide to Caribbean History and Culture
From Soup Joumou to Flying Fish & Cou-Cou: Exploring Caribbean Food Stories through Haitian and Bajan Cuisine
Jul 10, 2024 Episode 87
Alexandria Miller

Send us a text message and tell us your thoughts.

We continue our Caribbean culinary voyage with Haitian and Bajan cuisine alongside experts, Kerline Ordeus and Leanna Pierre. Together, we uncover the culinary ties between West African and Caribbean dishes, drawing enlightening parallels between the shared heritage of cassava and okra through Haitian tomtom and Barbados' national dish, flying fish and cou-cou.  We also honor the stories and traditions that make Caribbean food so special like Haiti's soup joumou to Bajan salt bread, illustrating how food preserves cultural identity. Join us as we unearth how ancestral practices and ingredients have been preserved and adapted, revealing the deep connections between food, culture, and history.

Leanna Pierre is a food blogger (under the name Mrs Island Breeze) and world traveler who loves to cook for her husband and children. A first-generation American, she is proud to be the daughter of her Barbados-born and raised parents. Leanna learned how to cook from her mother and her paternal grandmother and has continued to develop her skills over the years through various cooking classes and expanded her repertoire to include cuisines from all over the world. Leanna’s specialty is traditional Caribbean cuisine with a twist of “Southern Comfort” from living in Atlanta for the past 15 years.

The founder of Knockout Kitchen, Kerline Ordeus has been cooking for over 20 years. She learned how to cook from the villagers and her family in Haiti. They were taught by their parents and parents' parents. Haitian cuisine is all about flavors and techniques. A true labor of love. Like every Haitian, Kerline is very much in love with her island. What she remembers most is the beauty of Haitian people despite the hardships that they still face today, hence, her passion for people and why she loves cooking. Follow Kerline online.

Caribbean Legal Solutions is the easiest way to find an attorney in the Caribbean. Contact them today at 1-877-418-2723 or via WhatsApp (718) 887-6141 or caribbeanlegalsolutions.com 

Disclaimer: This podcast ad contains general information about Caribbean Legal Solutions and is not intended as legal advice.  Always consult with a qualified attorney for legal advice specific to your situation.

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Send us a text message and tell us your thoughts.

We continue our Caribbean culinary voyage with Haitian and Bajan cuisine alongside experts, Kerline Ordeus and Leanna Pierre. Together, we uncover the culinary ties between West African and Caribbean dishes, drawing enlightening parallels between the shared heritage of cassava and okra through Haitian tomtom and Barbados' national dish, flying fish and cou-cou.  We also honor the stories and traditions that make Caribbean food so special like Haiti's soup joumou to Bajan salt bread, illustrating how food preserves cultural identity. Join us as we unearth how ancestral practices and ingredients have been preserved and adapted, revealing the deep connections between food, culture, and history.

Leanna Pierre is a food blogger (under the name Mrs Island Breeze) and world traveler who loves to cook for her husband and children. A first-generation American, she is proud to be the daughter of her Barbados-born and raised parents. Leanna learned how to cook from her mother and her paternal grandmother and has continued to develop her skills over the years through various cooking classes and expanded her repertoire to include cuisines from all over the world. Leanna’s specialty is traditional Caribbean cuisine with a twist of “Southern Comfort” from living in Atlanta for the past 15 years.

The founder of Knockout Kitchen, Kerline Ordeus has been cooking for over 20 years. She learned how to cook from the villagers and her family in Haiti. They were taught by their parents and parents' parents. Haitian cuisine is all about flavors and techniques. A true labor of love. Like every Haitian, Kerline is very much in love with her island. What she remembers most is the beauty of Haitian people despite the hardships that they still face today, hence, her passion for people and why she loves cooking. Follow Kerline online.

Caribbean Legal Solutions is the easiest way to find an attorney in the Caribbean. Contact them today at 1-877-418-2723 or via WhatsApp (718) 887-6141 or caribbeanlegalsolutions.com 

Disclaimer: This podcast ad contains general information about Caribbean Legal Solutions and is not intended as legal advice.  Always consult with a qualified attorney for legal advice specific to your situation.

Support the Show.

Connect with Strictly Facts - Instagram | Facebook | Twitter | LinkedIn | YouTube

Looking to read more about the topics covered in this episode? Subscribe to the newsletter at www.strictlyfactspod.com to get the Strictly Facts Syllabus to your email!

Want to Support Strictly Facts?

  • Rate the Show
  • Leave a review on your favorite podcast platform
  • Share this episode with someone who loves Caribbean history and culture
  • Send us a DM or voice note to have your thoughts featured on an upcoming episode
  • Share the episode on social media and tag us
  • Donate to help us continue empowering listeners with Caribbean history and education

Produced by Breadfruit Media

Speaker 1:

Welcome to Strictly Facts, a guide to Caribbean history and culture, hosted by me, alexandria Miller. Strictly Facts teaches the history, politics and activism of the Caribbean and connects these themes to contemporary music and popular culture. Hello, hello, everyone. Welcome back to another episode of Strictly Facts a guide to Caribbean history and culture. I'm not even going to waste any time because, as you all know, I've been enjoying this venture that we've been taking through Caribbean cuisine across the region truly, and so, kicking off our discussion today, we are focusing on the diverse food cultures of Haiti and Barbados. I am tremendously honored to have two guests on the show Firstly, recipe developer, digital creator and head chef of Knockout Kitchen, kerlin Ordeas, and attorney by day digital recipe developer and the woman behind Mrs Island Breeze, the blog and social media pages, Leanna Pierre. So thank you both so much for joining me for this episode. And why don't you kick us off with you telling our listeners a little bit more about yourselves, your connections to the Caribbean which I didn't necessarily give away yet and what inspired your passions for Caribbean food?

Speaker 2:

Well, thank you for having us. I guess I'll kick it off so I'm Leanna Pierre. I am first generation Bajan American, so both of my parents are born and raised in Barbados. They both migrated to the US as adults. Really came from my mom and my grandma. Cooking has always been time that we shared together.

Speaker 2:

Whenever there was food, there was family, there was time spent together, there was conversations, there was laughter, and so I think a lot of my favorite memories and fondest memories, whether it's with family or friends, circulate around food, and so it's always been that great connector for me. And then, speaking more specifically to Bajan cuisine, you know, being first generation American, going back to Barbados was a frequent occurrence when I was a child, right. But I think for a lot of people, as you get older, you get into high school, you get into more activities, your summers are taken up with different things, you start to get a little bit further and further removed and it becomes a little bit more challenging to make those trips on a consistent basis. So food is just another way to maintain that connection for me.

Speaker 3:

All right. So hi everyone. My name is Carlene.

Speaker 1:

Ordeas.

Speaker 3:

And I was actually born in Haiti. Both of my parents are Haitian and I was born in Okai, so I know a lot of the listeners would be familiar with that, but I've been cooking for a very long time, for over 20 years. I remember as a child growing up in Haiti and watching the villagers, my auntie, everyone just gather around and cook and learn from each other, and it was always how food was celebrated. I know that. You know, from a culture perspective, food is huge in Haiti and I think that you know we always say that if someone cooks for you, they love you.

Speaker 3:

So that is how I show my love, so that is why I cook. I love to feed people, so you know a lot of the way that Haitian food is made. You can definitely tell that there's a lot of love, there's a lot of passion that goes into the way that we create each of our dishes, you know, by the way that we prep and washes our meat, to the way that we marinate it and execute the dish. So I've always been very passionate about cooking and for that very reason is to bring people together. Like you said, I think that food is healing and the way that we prep it should be from that same mindset as well.

Speaker 3:

So that is how I've been able to share my love here, even in Los Angeles, where there's not many, you know, haitian restaurants, and so I've been trying to just bridge that gap here also, trying to just bridge that gap here also, but I don't want to get too far down into the deep, but I am actually a healthcare administrator by trade, so I know you're a lawyer, liana. It's awesome to see that. So cooking is my night job. So you know, during the day, I'm actually helping. You know, run the hospital. You know I also love that and I'm trying to actually learn everything that I can and take some of that back and also, you know, open up a restaurant here. Hopefully one day I will be one of you to. First, Everyone is welcome to join, everyone from the diaspora throughout the Caribbean.

Speaker 1:

I know that I love food from everywhere and you can tell how food is definitely heavily influenced throughout the Caribbean and I know you'll get to some of that, thank you. Thank you so much, and thank you both for introducing yourselves and again telling our listeners a little bit more about who you are and your love for Caribbean foods, as you were mentioning, carleen. I definitely do want us to talk about these foods, right? We are a region that I think sometimes gets smushed together for lack of a better way of phrasing, right, and, of course, there are similarities, but there are also very unique differences, based off our national identities, regional identities. We've had several conversations so far based off these histories already, and so, really, with a focus on Barbados and Haiti, what do you all think makes your foods particular and special and individual, particularly for the region?

Speaker 3:

From a Haitian perspective. You know, when you go to Haiti, even still today, you'll see, you know diverse people throughout the Caribbean and definitely the food of Haiti, I would say, is a fusion of, you know, the Tainos, the people that were there before, right African. You will see a lot of the Spanish influence also throughout the Caribbean, french and then Arab influence, and I can name some of these dishes. For example, you know griot the Tainos actually were the first to be observed to be, you know, slow cooking meats. So they actually invented barbecue and I don't think a lot of people know that, and you know griot is huge. It's actually our national food in Haiti and you know everyone, even outside of Haiti, they're like oh, you're making griot. I know what griot is, I want some. So you know, that's just an example of how we're just fully immersed.

Speaker 3:

And picles, for example. The way we make it is different. But I know Jamaicans, you know they have a version of piquis. You know my friend from El Salvador. She commented on one of my posts one day and she's like oh my God, we make this as well, but we we don't use, you know, scotch bonnet or habanero. We use jalapenos. That's crazy, right. So it's mind blowing to sort of like make these connections. But you know, I think that you know these different cultures that I've, you know, listed. You know they've left their mark on our cuisine still today. You know the way that we cook it, like you know beans and rice. You know, you can make these connections because even you know Mexican food when you look at it, the beans, the way they cook it, it's just it's different than how Haitians make it, but it's also like it's a staple in their diet.

Speaker 2:

I would say, kind of following up on what was saying, I think what makes Asian food unique is the flavor profile. And to her point, the flavor profile that you're going to get is a result of the combination of African, portuguese, indian, british indigenous flavors combined, like we can't ignore the impact that the transatlantic slave trade had on how those flavors developed and have melded together over time. And so to Karleen's point, there is this kind of across the diaspora, these similarities in foods, with things like rice being an anchor, lots of stews, use of okra, and you see that not just across the Caribbean or African diaspora, but even when you get to places like South Carolina. There is a very direct connection between Charleston, south Carolina, literally down to the architecture. If you visit you will notice a lot of the buildings look and feel like Barbados, and that's because plantation owners who, after they left Barbados, went to settle Charleston as Little Barbados. So you'll get some of that even in the food there as well.

Speaker 2:

So there is this interconnected nature and so it is this amalgamation of flavors and I think part of what makes food so fun and interesting. To Carlene's point, you'll have a lot of the same ingredients but, depending on who's preparing it and what country, completely different flavors. Like you know, when you look at, say, joloff rice and pilau from, say, trinidad or Tobago and cook up rice from Barbados, it's a lot of the same ingredients, right, but they taste wildly different. So I think you know those flavor profiles are what I would say make Barbados, and really each Caribbean island, different no-transcript of green seasoning, and that's all we call it green seasoning yes, and you know Haitians we call it epis, but I think that is, you know, the main ingredients in our cuisine.

Speaker 3:

That makes it so different. And you know, epis is pretty much. It's bold. You know it's a different. Spices, you know, for example, we use green onions. You know a lot of people would use bell peppers in theirs. They'll use tomatoes if they want to make it red or if they want to keep it green, they'd leave it out. Tomatoes if they want to make it red or if they want to keep it green, they leave it out. And a lot of herbs thyme, you know, which is generally used in Haiti, scotch bonnet, and you know all that is blended together and and it's used to marinate our meats. You know, like not even meats too. You know we use Haitian spaghetti. We use that in Haitian spaghetti and then everyone's like what makes Haitian spaghetti so good? Blah, oh blah. Epis is the answer and I'm telling you it's the same thing.

Speaker 3:

Epis is the answer to a lot of our food and why it's so different and why it's so delicious.

Speaker 1:

Thank you both for leading me to my next question, because not only have you situated us in that sort of historical framework, thinking of the African, the indigenous, the obviously colonial influences in our foods, but the fact that our people have then gone on to influence other places, like, as you both noted, to South Carolina, new Orleans, you know as well, where several people from what was then Saint-Domingue becoming Haiti, you know, leaving after the Haitian Revolution based off their own principles or ideas about Black independence, right, then relocating to what is now New Orleans, and then even bringing enslaved Africans with them.

Speaker 1:

So it, I think, paints a broader picture of not only our foods but the way that our foods have also then gone on to influence other places as well. Right, we've been sort of not necessarily dancing around this idea, but I really want to ground us in talking about some of these foods and their connections to the different people who have influenced our histories. Right, some influences or some foods I automatically think of are cuckoo in Barbados, for instance, and you know just various ways that you know you can directly point them to, as you both are mentioning to like West Africa, which is, in my view, very similar to fufu. Right, and so could you all situate us in this moment and highlight, you know, what are some very popular foods in Barbados and Haiti today and how they connect to some of these influences?

Speaker 3:

Sure, yeah, why not? So, tom Tom, you know, as, as you suggested, I think that that's. You know Fufu, and for you know folks in West Africa. The only difference about fufu and Haitian tomtom is, literally, we use breadfruit. Okay, that is the only difference, and breadfruit is thoroughly, of course, found in Haiti and especially, you know, depending on the different season, we have way too much of it. So I'm wondering, you know, who said, well, we have a whole lot of this.

Speaker 3:

We couldn't make fufu out of this instead of, like, using plantains to make it? You know, so, traditionally, that's huge, huge in Haiti, and you know, you use it with your hands. Even in the way that we gather around, you use your hands to eat it, and a lot of food, and you know the African culture, they use their hands to eat, and I feel like we need to go back to that way. People are so afraid to use their hands, and I even get comments, too, on my page. They're like, why are you not using this to eat it? Well, you, you can use your hands, and I feel like it just grounds you in the way that it's supposed to be eaten. You know, like when you have people gather around the table, you know, you set up the dish and then you're like digging with your hands and it just like opens people up to like vulnerability, like let's share this dish together, let's enjoy this together. And I think it's the same way of connecting this to West African how they eat with their hands and how they enjoy the food, you know, with their families, right, traditionally.

Speaker 3:

Another one that I think that we don't talk about is cassava. You know you can find cassava and Christopher Columbus I hate to reference him, but in his diary, when you know, when he got to Haiti and thought that he was in India, he talked about passava. He talked about how the indigenous people, the Tainos, were using the roots to make these different dishes. But I see that the connection with okra, okra is literally malanga, and some people don't use malanga to to make it and they use, you know, the it's, it's the other one that's that's used with with cassava, but anyway, it's escaping me.

Speaker 3:

It's another route, but West African, you know they use it. So I'm curious to to even know, cause I don't know this myself, you know, did the African bring it to the island or is it like they both had it right, because we know that we both use this. You know to the core whether, if it's okra, I remember you know I do catering. Also, my friend was like, please tell me you can make me okra and guess where she was from. You know she's African and it's crazy, crazy because I'm like, well, how do you make this? You know, was that something that was later learned you?

Speaker 3:

know, in Haiti, or is it something that actually the Africans brought to us also? I don't know if we'll never know, but I I always thought that that was interesting. But go ahead, leanna. I, uh, I, I go on a rampage sometimes. I'm excited about this.

Speaker 2:

Listen, we are kindred spirits. You are a little foodie heart. You've gone and fuck with you. Why so, I would say for me, in terms of barbados, which food I? I feel like you can't talk about barbados without talking about flying fish and cuckoo. That's our national dish. Um, cuckoo is made from cornmeal and okra and you know salt and pepper and seasonings and things like that, and so there is a similarity to fufu. It's not quite as pull-y in the way that you can like eat it with your hands, because it doesn't like quite pull apart the same way, even though it does kind of come together.

Speaker 2:

We often talk about it in the context of West Africa, but I also think there are some similarities to a dish in East Africa. There's one called ugali, and it's basically you take dried out corn and you take a stone and kind of grind it into a flour and then you mix it with water. Now, with cuckoo, we're seasoning it as we go, we're adding things to it. We're adding okra, we're adding pepper, we're adding these things. Ugali is really designed to be just the corn flour and water. Whatever flavor you get comes from the stew that you serve over it, whether it's vegetable-based or it has meat, so it's not designed for you to really spice it up, although of course it's your kitchen, you can do what you want but traditionally it's just the corn, flour and water. I think that's interesting and also similar to cuckoo, but also different at the same time. So you're seeing those connections not just from West Africa but also East Africa.

Speaker 2:

Other dishes that I feel like are central to Barbados macaroni pie, that's basically. It's not a pie, it doesn't have like crust, like a like an apple pie. It's basically our version of baked macaroni and cheese, but it's different. We use evaporated milk in it, we put peppers in it, we use mustard. We also use hanker cheese, which is like the unofficial cheese or maybe the official cheese of barbados, but it's a new zealand cheese. It's not a bayesian cheese, but it is what we use. It comes in a big vacuum sealed brick, like if you're eating macaroni pot, you're you're having anchor cheese in there.

Speaker 2:

Um, put it in sauce. Uh, puddingudding is made from sweet potato and you bake it. So it's kind of this sweet and savory dish. The sauce can be made with different parts of the pig. My dad likes pig ear sauce, pig foot sauce. It's like pickled. So there are different ways that you can do it. Lots of breadfruit. We love doing breadfruit chips, or we will roast the breadfruit and do like a loaded breadfruit with like saltfish that's seasoned cassava pone. So we use cassava as well in soups and stews, but we also use it to make like a sweet dish, almost like a dessert. So think of it almost like a bread pudding, but instead of bread made from cassava instead. Like a bread pudding but instead of bread made from cassava instead. So again, even in just talking about Haiti and Barbados, all of these similarities in ingredients to create amazing delicious dishes that are wildly different and all equally delicious.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, oh my goodness, leanna, that's crazy because when you were talking about your version of macaroni, that's literally how Haitian make their mac and cheese. We also use evaporated milk. That's why I was like stop it.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, it's crazy and what's different is so one of the things that I've noticed about macaroni and cheese because y'all know, macaroni and cheese gets serious everywhere, get serious exactly where. One of the things, the first thing that I noticed when I went to the Bahamas, was the type of noodle that they use for macaroni and cheese. So they use like a, like almost like a didi noodle, much broader and shorter, and Barbados, at least the way my grandma made it. Growing up we used elbows, but the long elbows, not the short, curled ones that you're used to seeing in American macaroni and cheese.

Speaker 2:

So that's also something that I noticed that is different depending on where you're from, even down to the type of noodle, even if the ingredients are the same and even how you serve it right. So, like a lot of times here, macaroni and cheese in the South, it's loose, right Like when, even if it's baked, when you take it apart, it kind of falls onto the plate and you can, you know, add whatever you want to it, let the sauce from the sweet potatoes hit it. But I noticed in the Bahamas when they do it, they cut it almost into a cube, right Like it's served like a, a square. It's not a loose kind of falling macaroni and cheese so it we could probably have a whole.

Speaker 3:

I agree, because the way you're talking about the corn, you know ugali. I've made that connection, before you know, with my Kenyan friends. You know they will eat ugali and I'm'm like what is Ugali? And everybody's like you either hate it or you love it.

Speaker 2:

And then I realized that's my Moulin there you go, right, and that's the beautiful thing I think about food in general, right, like I didn't even mention fish cakes, right, barbados, which is basically like fritters. So if you go to the Bahamas, they have cock fritters. If you go to like, maybe like Puerto Rico, you might have bacalaitos, right, but it's all like a fritter with some kind of fish, whether it's a shellfish or you know fish that has bones and scales inside, right? So they're just all of these connections, and when you get people who love food and love to share together, you get to have beautiful conversations like this yes, I agree, and I love this.

Speaker 3:

It's. It makes me happy when you know, when we talk about how we're just so connected and I and I tell folks all the time throughout the caribbean, I don't know what the fuss is about. We all love each other. You know, whatever the fuss is, at the end of the day we are the same people that were dropped at a different border, yep, you know. And then, whatever influence that happened, you know that were throughout that island.

Speaker 3:

That's what you know the food looks like. Also, you know like it's so crazy because, like some of the those patties, those are like French, heavily French influence. You know pate. You know pate codé. You know all of the different way that pastries is used. You know that is a direct influence of the French, even with, you know, you were talking about the different types of macaroni. That's an influence of the Italian, because we know that they were the one who invented pasta, right? So somehow, how did someone from Italy ended up in the Caribbean, right? But let's not talk about that, alexandra. That's your job, so I'll give it a shot. It's a big job.

Speaker 1:

It's a very big job, but I think that's, you know, that's the point of these conversations, right that these foods that we eat, that we partake in, that are very much central to our families right, to our cultures and to us really being who we are, are not only demonstrative of these greater historical connections, but are also ways as you were pointing to Carleen to draw us together, right, while you know a Jamaican patty may not necessarily look like a Haitian patty or it's baked a different way, and you know a Jamaican patty may not necessarily look like a Haitian patty or it's baked a different way, and you know which one has this ingredient versus this thing.

Speaker 1:

It's a way for us to draw commonalities and dismant, definitely want us to talk about some of which that have been very tremendous, I think, in shaping our national awarenesses Right and even building who these nations have become as very significant for our region. And so griot was brought up, cuckoo and flying fish also another national dish was brought up, but there are so many, and so I'm really asking you all to possibly share a few other really important dishes, soup, jumbo included.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, I was gonna say that's the most important no-transcript.

Speaker 2:

So I know you asked for dishes, but I kind of want to turn it a little bit to focus on rum, because sugar was such an important part of the history of Barbados. Like, barbados has always been small but mighty, right. And when I say small, I'm talking about physical size, the mileage, the acreage Right. And when I say small, I'm talking about physical size, the mileage, the acreage right. Despite that, there was a time that Barbados was the wealthiest colony in the British Empire and that was directly a result of sugarcane and sugar production, which ultimately led to the production of rum. And Barbados has one of the oldest distilleries in the world Mount Gay Rum is the official rum of Barbados.

Speaker 2:

And so I feel like, even though we're talking about food, it is hard to talk about the cuisine of Barbados without talking about that legacy of sugar and rum and the importance that it has even today. And it extends even further when we start to talk about music and look at things like Soca and Calypso and what we have as Crop Over, which has a direct connection going back to the days of slavery and the end of harvest and being able to gather with food and with drink to celebrate that harvest season is over, right. So today people from the outside looking in may just see rum and revelry, which there is, and that is fun, but it is grounded in history, right. And so all of those things have an impact on food, on drink, on celebration, on how we come together. So I know you asked about dishes, but I feel like rum is a piece that is just so seminal to Barbados Beyond. Just like it tastes good and it makes good rum punch, it was literally built into the economics of the island.

Speaker 3:

You know I couldn't agree more, Leanna. I think that we need to talk about rum. I know that it is a story that's barely covered, but I know Barbancourt, they've been in service since like 1862, I believe you know. So that definitely talks about the historical facts around sugar cane, right, we know why. You know the Europeans talks about the historical facts around sugar cane, right, we know why. You know the Europeans, why they came over and they brought. You know they brought slaves from Africa just to work these different plantations.

Speaker 3:

But I think hardly do we cover rum. I think Haitians have one of the best rum in the world. I have not had your rum though, leanna, but I'm curious. We can exchange. We can exchange, yes, I'm curious to have some, some Beijing rum, but I know that is something that we've always pride ourselves in is the way that we make. We also make clearing. You know that's, that's the white version of.

Speaker 3:

You know what I think people will probably call that vodka here, and that is a lot of like our delicious beverages that we'll combine with. You know, passion fruit, for example. That is a staple, I think, throughout the Caribbean. But, to answer your question, alexandria, I think subjumu, that is our big, significant dish. I have not had one of my friends that have tasted subjumu and have not wanted a second bowl, had one of my friends that have tasted soujoumou and have not wanted a second bowl, and I think that speaks to, you know, the love that is put in it.

Speaker 3:

And so every Haitian, throughout the Caribbean, on December 31st, they're in their kitchen and guess what they're making? They're making soujoumou. Okay now, soujoumou is, you know, traditionally made with different squashes, right? And we know, towards the end of the year, that's when it's squash season, right, everybody's making squash. So you know, there's, like you know, a lot of people would add, like meats, like beef, you know the different vegetables. Some folks will add pasta to it. I don't, but you know that's a fight that I have on my page too. What, where's the pasta?

Speaker 3:

I'm like I don't want no pasta in my soup.

Speaker 2:

I love pasta, but I also love pasta. So there's that.

Speaker 3:

I do too, but I don't want it in my soup, so it's always something with that. But you know, traditionally this is celebrated for Independence Day because, you know, haitians have been making this soup before. You know like people were there. And so, historically, after we gained our independence, because we were prohibited to drink this soup, right, it was considered, you know, for the elite, right? Only the elite folks would you know which were what? Slave masters and their family. So, after we gained our independence, we said forget this.

Speaker 3:

Our liberators they're saying you know what, on this day, guess what we're gonna do? We're gonna drink the soup that was once forbidden to us. So every year, this tradition have been carried out by Haitians until this day and I think, will continue, you know, for the rest of our lives and our people after it too. So I think that there's there is strength. Continue, you know, for the rest of our lives and our people after it too. So I think that there's there is strength and saying you know what?

Speaker 3:

This is something that was taken from us, you know, because the soup, the way that it's made, you can tell there's so much love, because you can't make this soup in one hour. Okay, you're, you're spending your whole day in that kitchen. You're going to marinate this beef ahead of time, right? You're going to marinate the meat if you're going to add meat in it, and that's marinated for at least 24 hours, you know. And then you're cutting up so many different vegetables, and I'm talking about these vegetables, and people also talk about how folks in the Caribbean don't do not eat healthy or our food is very unhealthy, which I have made it my life business. To say that is false, because everything that is in that soup are vegetables that bring, you know, so much for the body. You know, for example, like there's leek and the soup there is. You know there's different starches, like you know we talked about yucca, exactly Beautiful root vegetables.

Speaker 3:

Let's talk about yellow yams, for example. People don't know what that's made of and what it can do for you, right? So I feel like a lot of our vegetables, a lot of the food that we eat in general, are very, very healthy for the body, you know, your skin, for your you know your skin for your you know heart health. That helps you with diabetes, you know there's like so much. Like our foods are, I think they bring in health and wealth also.

Speaker 2:

I forgot to mention. I have to mention salt bread. Salt bread is to Barbados what like baguettes are to France, like it's that kind of importance. And and you'll see, I feel like a lot of Caribbean cultures have their own kind of a version of what. What bread is important.

Speaker 2:

You know, in a gaillera you may have like tennis roll, like every culture kind of has their thing like that. That's like our tennis roll, um salt bread, and you know it's called that to distinguish from like sweet bread, which when we say sweet bread we're talking about like a coconut bread that has like cinnamon and nutmeg and all those kinds of things. So the idea of salt bread is to distinguish. So you know exactly what it is. But it's basically like a dinner roll and we use it to make cutters, which is a dinner roll with like cheese in it. A dinner roll, and we use it to make cutters, which is a dinner roll with like cheese in it.

Speaker 2:

Sometimes you could put I as a kid used to like to put fried flying fish in it and put a whole bunch of pepper sauce on it. But you know there are different ways that you can do it. I would say salt bread is is up there and I think to your point in terms of importance and history. It's one of those foods where it doesn't require a lot of ingredients. Right, you're talking about flour, yeast, salt water, and so if money is scarce or access to lots of ingredients is scarce, this is something that you can make that it's delicious, it's filling, it doesn't cost a lot of money, and so I think that there is a legacy in that as well.

Speaker 3:

I love that and I agree. There's like so many dishes that can be made. You know, for our labui, for example, you know we have so many different versions of porridge, you know, and those are easy to make, but like filling also. For you know, those times where you know folks are having difficulties with, you know, keeping food on the table and I think that you know, throughout the Caribbean, you'll see, everyone has a version of different forages that they make. You know Haitians love forage, so you know we got a million of them out there. We make them with so many different things and people are like oh, I didn't know you could make it with plantains. Yeah, haitians have made it with plantains and I've seen that Jamaicans also have done it with not only corn but also with plantains also.

Speaker 2:

Listen, the Caribbean is going to remix. If we don't do it, we're going to remix the remix.

Speaker 3:

No, I couldn't agree more.

Speaker 1:

You all bring up so many tremendous points. I mean, I think, to the earlier point about Barbados and its impact. I had a previous episode where we talked about Cropover and Barbados as being what was once called Little England. For your point, leanna, that it was such a great impact on the British Empire that some people are like not even aware, right, subjumul? First off, I I really do want to commend the awareness I think has definitely increased, especially as it's been named a unesco and tangible um cultural heritage on it's joined that list very recently, right, um, and I think that has definitely helped to bring the awareness globally of not just the soup in itself, right, but the importance that Haiti has had in shaping what we identify as this longer history of Black independence, black sovereignty. Right, I have a rum episode coming, so it's in the works. It's probably going to have to be a little bit of a series too, so it's coming.

Speaker 1:

But, yeah, tremendous, tremendous points that you all made and I think, even bringing me to my next point, there are national dishes, of course, right, but you all ended on talking about, you know, sort of more common foods or maybe lesser known foods from an outward or outsider looking in, right.

Speaker 1:

Foods from an outward or outsider looking in, right, but things that are sustainable foods, that are integral to our everyday presences. You know, even the fact that, like for Jamaica, you can eat a pati for lunch, right, like that is our breakfast or whatever it is. It's a thing that many people will do to the point where it's been, it's been like a. More recently, there's been a deal for it, right, in terms of just that sort of awareness that everybody kind of might need to eat a pati at one point in a in the day, right, whether it's just to get by or whatever. And so, whether it's cutters, whether it's Haitian spaghetti, you spaghetti, whichever ones you might want to dive into, or potentially others, what are some of your favorite foods that are must-haves in terms of trying Haitian or Bajan food that might not immediately strike everybody's first look when they are doing a search for your cuisine?

Speaker 2:

Oh man, that's a tough one. There's so many things. So, all right, all right, let's start with drinks. You got to have Mabie. So Mabie is made from tree bark. It is a very distinct and acquired taste, so it's one of those things where you either love it or you hate it, but I feel like that's quintessential Barbados. You got to have Mabie, Of course. I've already mentioned Mount Gay Rum. You've got to have some of that if you're of age. And drinking I got to shout out Trudy Breiker. She's the master distiller at Mount Gay. You know, I can't help but notice that we're all women on this podcast episode today and, I think, shouting out the impact and importance of women in developing cuisine across the diaspora. So shout out to Trudy and Edward, so proud of you, you are killing it. So I would say that for drinks and maybe even a fruit tea. It's a soda, it's super sweet, don't drink too much of it, but I feel like you can't come to Barbados and not have fruit tea.

Speaker 2:

If we're talking about fast food, you got to go to Chafet. Chafet is the home of roasted chicken and roti. And here's the thing Barbados, fast food. And I think this is probably true of fast food and a lot of the Caribbean. It doesn't taste like fast food, like a roti from Chafet doesn't taste like I don't know a roti from Chafet doesn't taste like I don't know a $1 burger or whatever. Like it tastes like somebody made this at home. Now it's still going to taste better at home, but it's really good. I feel like you have to go to Chafet if you go to Barbados.

Speaker 2:

In terms of what to eat that people want to think of, everybody thinks of cuckoo and flying fish, because it's the national dish, but what I really like is green banana cuckoo. So it is mashed green banana, seasoned with salt and pepper and all kinds of deliciousness, and you can serve it with chicken, with fish, with whatever kind of stew, but I love mashed green banana cuckoo. So I think that's something that, uh, you should try if you go. Uh, sea egg that's something that you don't hear a lot about. Uh, sea egg with rice. I think that's something that you should definitely try. Um, if you're in Barbados, uh, macaroni pie. Of course, you just gotta do it.

Speaker 2:

Flying fish, if you can get. I mean, I feel like all the flying fish have been picked out of the ocean, because the ones that I'm just saying are like this small, I don't like they're less than the palm of my hand. I don't know what's happened to the flying fish, but if you can get some, you should have that Definitely. Roasted bread, fruits and turnovers coconut turnovers. So for dessert that's one of my favorite things there are these big, puffy, delicious rolls stuffed with spiced coconut and brushed with sugar water on top to give it just like a little bit of crust, but the bread is just soft and pillowy and it is absolute deliciousness. So yeah, I would put those on my list.

Speaker 3:

Trust me, I was writing things down as you were speaking that mashed green banana, I'm on that, okay. So I think for me there is more to Haitian food than just griot and I know that you know, since it's our national food and a lot of people know about it and it's great. But I feel like rice in general, haitian have made very best. We have so many different varieties of rice in the different ways that we make it with different beans. You know, for example, mushroom rice. I think that you know that we make it with different beans. You know, for example, mushroom rice. I think that you know that is distinct to Haiti, right, the, the, the jonjon, which is the mushroom is found in Haiti, and the, the way that it changes the complex of the rice, is definitely something that's truly beautiful about that dish itself, and the rice is so good that you can eat it alone and I know that you know you probably have heard that, but like, it really is something and it's it's so delicious. So, mushroom rice, definitely get it with a real mushroom, not, you know, with with just the bouillon. No, you can add a little Maggie bouillon in there too. That's fine, it doesn't hurt it, but, like, definitely with the real mushrooms, because you know mushroom in general is so good for you. So you know, but people don't talk about that since our food is not healthy. You know I'm throwing shots here. But another thing that you know that we do any of the bean sauces also, and you know you'll see Haitians eating that with white rice because it's really that good.

Speaker 3:

And you know we're talking now about the black peas. You know you can do it with red beans, you can do it with white beans. I mean those are very popular. But also let's talk about the fish In Haiti. Those are very popular, but also let's talk about the fish In Haiti. You know, red snapper is huge and I think throughout the Caribbean it truly is a Caribbean sensation. So you know, I think anything snapper with boiled plantains fire. There is nothing better than that's my favorite dish. By the way, I've been thinking about it, it's red snapper with some boiled plantains, the plantains, the plantains not completely green, just a little bit yellow, so you can get a little sweetener in there.

Speaker 3:

Uh, if you know what I'm talking about, you know well, I don't know, we know you get that and I'm telling you, you tear that up and the fish doesn't need to be fried, it can just be, you know, literally in sauce. I think that's my favorite. I I feel like there are so many great food that you can try, like our patties, for example. Oh my god, pate corée is something, and I'm telling you it's the feeling you take one bite and you're like, oh my god, this is changing my life and you know I gotta tell you that it's not just the filling the pastry is so flaky like for me, it's both, it really is.

Speaker 3:

I have to agree with you for sure, but I'll be waiting for that. Uh, what is it that? Uh, does they in there the egg? The moment you find the egg and I'm telling you there's something they do, uh, they, they do to it that it just tastes so good. And I've made that for my partner and she is in love, okay, you know it's also very delicious Salted fish with plantains or yellow yams.

Speaker 3:

You know, I've been featuring a lot of that on my page recently. It's just to show that it doesn't have to be rice. You know like there's other dishes that are just as delicious, you know from our cuisine. But yeah, I definitely say our mac and cheese delicious, definitely, try it. We call it macabre nio gratin. I don't know why it has a French name, but you know, haitian spaghetti is really that good, so definitely try it. We have a lot of sweets also. I'm not huge on sweets, but I feel, like some of the ones that we do, very well. If it's not our porridge, it's going to be pan patat. You know that's also a sweet. You know, bread dish? I think you definitely described the exact same one, leanna earlier.

Speaker 3:

And I'm like are you talking about the same dish that we don't even know that? You know that you guys make too, but it's a sweet potato bread and I think that the way that that's made is just just so delicious. Rum definitely try some of those. We have also some street and I remember getting those as a kid is Tikal Wal, and it's literally like it could be made with koalasol, which is, I think, is guava guava, is that how you say it in English or the Spanish name for it Sour salt. Yeah, sour salt. Yeah, sour salt. But you can blend that into a juice, you can use evaporated milk in there and then that consistent, you put it inside like a plastic little bag, you seal it and then you put it in the freezer to freeze and you have that throughout the day, my God.

Speaker 3:

They call those baggies in the Bahamas and we make popsicles out of them we make sour, sour popsicles and juice as well, yeah, those are the best, even if, like I remember, as a kid, I used to be so like impatient. I'm like, oh, I just need it now, even if it's not all the way frozen girl, you still killing that because you still got that little juice. But there's so many varieties of those in Haiti must have. I'm sure there's like so many that I'm missing, but, like any of our, you know plantains also. We've done very well I think the entire Caribbean have done that well the way that we use plantain in the best delicious way possible. Yeah, it's just incredible. But I think that you know Haitians make lemonade, haitian lemonade, something to be tried, very simple but delicious, and I'm sure, like the Caribbean, a lot of us we make it very similar too, because I think what it is in there is like that almond extract that we use or like you know, exactly.

Speaker 3:

And the way that we, you know, like I, I would say like lemonade. If I'm going to have lemonade in my house, I might as well just get a whole bag of lemons and you know of limes or whatever, and then just make it because it really tastes better. It does, and any of them, like watermelon juice, the way that we, you know, we make those delicious, um, but yeah, I can go on and on alexandra, I think I'm giving you enough maybe.

Speaker 3:

But uh, soup jumu definitely top on the list. If you've never tried it, I say find someone that you know will cook it well for you. I, you know, I have not had bad subjumu, but I do see that everyone makes it different. You know, some people make it more watery, some people make it more. You know, thick on the thicker side, which means they added more, probably more, squash to it. But definitely a must try if you have not tried it.

Speaker 1:

I will certainly be adding these to not only my personal list to try, but definitely for our listeners, I'll include links and recipes from some of y'all's sites and everything as well, on to our Strictly Facts syllabus, so our listeners can definitely check out when they have a chance. And so, before closing out a little bit, I definitely would be remiss without asking you all what are some of your favorite ways our foods, or your foods rather, show up in Haitian or Bajan popular culture.

Speaker 2:

I would say probably in Soka music. I don't know why, but there's something exciting about uh hearing that in music like there's. There was one song oh man, this is many carnivals ago where there's a song called cheese cut of wine and I told you about, like the cut of sandwiches with cheese. That just like cracked me up, like seeing it used in that different way. Whenever I see that, it just it just makes me smile like I love my people. Y'all crack me up.

Speaker 3:

That's so funny. I think food is so love and Haiti that, yeah, you hear it in our songs too. Um, and I think that you know throughout the Caribbean too, in a way that the history I was uh listening to. I told my uh partner about you know Ana Kaona and you like her history in the Caribbean and also, you know, specifically to Haiti and what happened. And she was like hold up, listen, there's a song about that Ana Kaona in Spanish that you know she was looking to play it for me and I was like huh, that's insane how that shows up.

Speaker 3:

I love how our food definitely shows up in poems. You know Haitians are huge on folktale, so, you know, like I feel like we write about our food. I feel like food is part of our history in Haiti. Another thing, too, I want to highlight is that if there was a true definition of blackity, black and being proud of it that would be Haitians. I think that we have always been proud of our African roots from the beginning, even though, you know, other parts of Haiti were not about that. They were more of like I'm not Africans, I'm Caribbean, and you know Haitians are like no, our mothers, our fathers, a lot of them can be traced to, you know, africa. It's called Mother Africa for for a change. So I think that, yes, songs, poems, our folk tale, our history, it's all wrapped into our food for sure.

Speaker 2:

And I think, even now, the piece that I'm seeing is, as we talk about this connection to Africa, you have how you make it, but this is how we got here, this is how it traveled, this is how it's changed over time. This is why, right, so I think that that's another way that we're seeing it. I don't know if that necessarily falls into pop culture, but I definitely think that it is becoming more common to see not just recipe writers or bloggers like myself, but culinary historians who are digging into the actual facts and doing a lot of what you're trying to do now in your blog and with what you have going on with your dissertation doing that deep historical work that grounds the food, yeah, and and I applaud you for that, alexandria and and I was really excited to see that you reached out to me and I was like, oh my god, by any means, I am not an expert in this.

Speaker 3:

Oh my gosh, I'm like am I qualified to have this, yes, yes because, you know, from my perspective, I imagine our ancestors literally carrying out seeds okay, throughout oceans, so they can preserve part of who they were or part of who they are.

Speaker 3:

Right, our food, I feel like it tells a story of how we have traveled from Africa all the way to the Caribbean and you can see it in the way that you know. Traditionally, pigeon peas, I believe, can be tracked back to West Africa, you know, but every person throughout the Caribbean, because I recently posted a pigeon pea rice, you know rice video and people were like no, leave it up to the Jamaicans and so and so. And I'm like no, pigeon peas is huge in the Haitian culture and you know the nutty flavor from it. It gives the rice a completely different profile also. But you know, like to me, the way that I can make these connections is that our ancestors fought to keep this little bit of themselves, and we can see it now and the way that food shows up and how it just connects us back to where we all came from, which I always say is mother Africa. Whether you like it or not, that's where, that's where our roots lie, and you know, and of course, culturally where we are.

Speaker 3:

you know cause I'm proud of our Taino. You know history, too right, of the Haitians that were there before the Africans got there as well, before the whites got there also, yep.

Speaker 2:

Indigenous people. They're a part of us.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, they are part of us, and I know a lot of people are like, well, I'm not Taino, I'm straight, you know, and I know this is huge because of how proud we are in Haiti of our African lineage. We tend to say, oh, we're Tainos are not part of us, but they are, you know, because I say you know, I was born in a mountain called Kapolika, and actually you can't even find it on the map, that's how hidden it is, and I grew up up there. This is where my family are from, and you cannot say that the Tainos, when they left, they all went back to the mountains and they took some of the slaves with them too that were brought from Africa. You know, because they're like, okay, you can live in the mountains and Haiti is is the most mountainous you know island in the Caribbean, and so you see that in the way that folks that actually left the city, that were not safe, they went back to the mountains and I still have my roots there.

Speaker 3:

My mother was buried there in a mountain, you know. So I cannot say, oh well, the Tainos are not part of me, because they are part of me also, I think, soon enough, you know, with history with blogs like this. I hope to raise that awareness and I always tell people you know, haitian food is definitely one of the most underrepresented food you know in the United States and maybe the world, and I hope to you know what I do with, how I show up. I hope that I can change and make an impact in that area as well, and I'm pretty sure, leanna, you probably feel the same way too.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, you know, and I'll say this to be clear, you know, my blog isn't just Beijing food. If you look at it, there's all kinds of stuff. There's Chinese food, there's Italian food, there's Southern food, because it's true to how I cook. Like, the way that I cook is informed by where I've traveled, where I live. I live in Atlanta now. So there, you know, there's so much that I've learned about Southern cuisine and being able to make those connections so like, oh, we have something just like this in the Caribbean. So it's all over the place.

Speaker 2:

But still to your point, I think food is an important part of how we preserve culture, how we preserve stories, how we pass down things to our children, to other members of our family.

Speaker 2:

There are so many things that I do in the kitchen because of the way I learned from my grandmothers, from my mother.

Speaker 2:

I hope to impart those one day to my daughter and to my son and to my son, and that you know, when they come home from college or from work or from travels or wherever they grow up and decide to be and decide to do, that they are craving these things right, that they have those sensory memories when they smell a certain thing To this day. Every time I smell sauteing onion and thyme and tomato in a pan, I think of my grandmother, because so many of her dishes started that way. Whether it was she was my mom and my dad and my grandparents in the kitchen around the table sharing about our days, sharing about our lives, staying connected, because it's so easy to just get wrapped up in what you have going on in yourself and I feel like mealtime is a time to just sit down and come together and break away from what you may be doing as an individual and just reconnect with the people in your life who mean the most to you.

Speaker 3:

We don't do that enough. You know like we don't sit together and eat together like our ancestors did and how they connected. You know, now with the hustle and bustle of life, you know we got a million things going on and it's really hard to preserve those. You know, those moments like you're talking about Leanna, it's hard to say, oh well, I cook because I want to pass this on. But even with the kids nowadays, like it's really hard to have one of them interested in being in the kitchen, you know, because they have a lot going on too. So it's it's beautiful to hear that that's how you know you're trying to preserve your culture. And I and I and I think you know, for me too, I would love that I don't have any kids just yet, but I would love one of them to be interested in. You know the way that I cook and why I cook the way that I do and you know, hopefully, keep that tradition. You know, keep that tradition going.

Speaker 3:

And you know I come from a huge family. There's 13 of us, brothers and sisters, and there's over 20 nieces and nephews. So you know my family is huge and so I think that it's always been important to us to be together, to share a meal together, no matter, you know how spread apart we are, but you know when it's dinner time, you know everybody's cracking up. You know, haitians, we're huge on jokes, so we're going to crack jokes. We're going to roast you on the table, you know. But it makes it worthwhile. You know, that's what it's about. That's what it's about connecting over food, loving each other, respecting each other, and I feel like with food, like we all speak the same language. Food brings us together. It doesn't matter.

Speaker 3:

Don't be afraid to try different foods, because for me, even throughout the Caribbean, I'm like oh, what's that? Oh, that's familiar. I go to New Orleans, I'm trying their food because I'm a foodie, so I love to eat, and so, you know, I'm like oh, what you got there Is that fried chicken. How are you doing that? You know I'm in the kitchen because I'm curious. But you know, again, we should all be curious about each other, curious about our food, because our food speaks volume into who we are as a person. And so I always say you know, whoever's cooking, I'm here to learn, I'm here to see, you know, okay, because what does that chicken bring up for you?

Speaker 3:

Grandma taught you that, yeah, and they'll tell you too. Yeah, that's how my granny did it and that's how she taught my mama to do it, or that's how my you know, that's my, that's how my dad did this and this is what he taught me. You know, like, and it's beautiful to hear how happy they are about it. This is what I learned and I'm open to sharing it and that's what I do on my page too.

Speaker 3:

It's like people can say, oh, this is not how you make this and I'll say this is how I learned in the villagers in Haiti. And it doesn't say that I'm not Haitian enough because I don't cook the same way that you do, right, it just says that, okay for my family and the village you know the villagers that I grew up in this is the way they cook, this is how they marinated their meats, this is how, this is what they did and this is how, what I was taught, and, of course, I'm gonna put my own flair to it, yeah, but you know, but to that, it just it's beautiful that you know the way that food history, just it. It does this thing. It locks us together, because I'm I love liana already. What? Just because you told me about your food that's food, the great equalizer, right?

Speaker 2:

it's the connector, it's the, it's the portal to someone's world, right? Like? I feel like if you meet someone and you're like I don't even know what we're gonna talk about, do we even have anything in common? Start talking about food listen, the story goes quickly.

Speaker 3:

Conversation opens up yeah, yeah, I agree 100% that is a beautiful point.

Speaker 1:

I think that'll take us out right. Food is a great connector, a great way of understanding each other individually, but also from a greater standpoint, culturally, in terms of who we are, where we come, expertise your love of food, of course, with us here at Strictly Facts. I will be sure, as always, to include the links to your pages and so forth in our show notes to our listeners to check out Carleen and Leanna's pages and see all of the amazing work that they're doing with sharing food from Barbados, from Haiti, the amazing work that they're doing with sharing food from Barbados, from Haiti and, as Leanna pointed, throughout different cultures, of course, throughout the world. So thank you again to you both for sharing with us and to our Strictly Facts listeners. I hope, as always, that you enjoyed it little more. Thanks for tuning in to Strictly Facts. Visit strictlyfactspodcastcom for more information from each episode. Follow us at Strictly Facts Pod on Instagram and Facebook and at Strictly Facts PD on Twitter.

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