Haitian Breakfast

Breakfast is not a big deal in Haiti. Although people are up at 5 or 6 am and busy about their work, no one seems to eat early in the day.  Since I am used to a hearty breakfast, I usually stow away a few pieces of bread from dinner because it is never clear what food may come my way before lunch.  Sometimes Gama gets food from the ladies who cook on site mid-morning.  He always shares, although it is hardly standard American fare.

“Mangoes for Breakfast!” Gama shakes a plastic bag full.  “So, do you want to eat mangoes Haitian way or American way?” He slides a five gallon bucket of water across the floor of the construction shack and dumps five mangoes to float in it.  “When in Rome,” I reply, but I get a quizzical look.  Idioms don’t translate.  “Haitian way.”  He smiles, straddles the bucket, picks a fat mango from the water and gnashes it with his teeth, peels away the skin and chomps down.

I peer into the water.  I am adventurous but not stupid.  I cannot put a mango washed with local water in my mouth.  “American way,” I shrug.  I pull a mango out and use my thumb to break through the soft peel.  “American way is with a knife,” Gama points out.   “You are doing Haitian way for Haitians’ with no teeth.”  It’s a good joke, but then again, maybe it is not.  People without teeth are a significant minority in Haiti.

The mango is sweet and pulpy, the juice gathers around my mouth.  It is the best I’ve ever eaten, but then again I am very hungry.

The next day we have goat head stew for breakfast.  The head is placed in a large kettle and boiled in a buttery sauce, think béarnaise without the flour.  Add chunks of yum, a papaya-like starch, and the obligatory onion.  When the head is tender it is cut into pieces and mixes with the broth and starch.  The skin turns deep grey and curls around the underlying muscle.

Goat head has a nice texture, but I did not find it as flavorful as the goat meat cubed into the evening stews or the char broiled chunks we sometimes get as a garnish to our rice and beans.  I suppose I am developing a sophisticated palate when it comes to goat.



About paulefallon

Greetings reader. I am a writer, architect, cyclist and father from Cambridge, MA. My primary blog, theawkwardpose.com is an archive of all my published writing. The title refers to a sequence of three yoga positions that increase focus and build strength by shifting the body’s center of gravity. The objective is balance without stability. My writing addresses opposing tension in our world, and my attempt to find balance through understanding that opposition. During 2015-2106 I am cycling through all 48 mainland United States and asking the question "How will we live tomorrow?" That journey is chronicled in a dedicated blog, www.howwillwelivetomorrw.com, that includes personal writing related to my adventure as well as others' responses to my question. Thank you for visiting.
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1 Response to Haitian Breakfast

  1. Sherri McCutchen says:

    Never ate goat’s head; have enjoyed bbq goat ribs: like them better capering about alive. Loved watching huge iguanas gorge on fallen mangoes in the bay islands of Honduras. Never tire of universal human connections…In New Orleans, pain perdu (“lost bread”, aka French toast – with nutmeg, cinnamon, eggs, milk, sugar – made from stale, leftover French bread ) for breakfast, with lots of dark chicory coffee.

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