Sometimes it’s worth a bit of e.coli
By Brad Miller
When I told people I was traveling to Haiti, they all warned me about the food.
“It’s going to be rice and beans for you!”
“You’re going to be so sick of rice and beans by the time you get back…”
“Eat American stuff now; you’re going to miss it with all those rice and beans!”
Rice and beans, rice and beans, that’s all I heard. But upon actually going to Haiti, I discovered two things:
1) There’s a lot more to traditional Haitian dishes than rice and beans
2) Haitian rice and beans are REALLY, REALLY GOOD
But this got me thinking. If the food is this good in the kitchens, what about street food?
What about the stuff all the day-workers eat? I had seen little cook-shacks up in the mountains near Chambrun. We drove by them when we visited neighboring churches, and I knew they catered to the miners in those hills.
If that was what the average Haitian worker was eating, that’s what I was going to try: fried pork, fried pressed plantains, and spicy pickliz (pick-lees) – a kind of hot mango coleslaw.
Now, I knew all the rules about how to be safe and sanitary and hygienic. I also knew there was zero chance I would be able to enforce them in this instance. So I made sure to schedule this culinary adventure at the end of my trip (better to be sick going home than sick during my visit) and crossed my fingers.
None of the booths needed to advertise. The smell alone was all the announcement needed that something delicious was cooking. The crackle of pork fat, the crispy sizzle of plantains, the vinegar tang of spicy slaw in the air…. I couldn’t wait to try it.
I got my foam box loaded up and took a bite… spectacular! Delicious! Chewy plantains with just enough crisp. Rich, meaty pork that’s about as organic as you can get (I’d seen some of the pigs wandering about). And spicy pickliz that definitely lived up to their name.
I shared some with the staff that had offered to drive me up and back. By the time we returned, the plate was polished clean.
I may or may not have paid for this adventure later, but even after a round of antibiotics, it was worth it. Soooo worth it.
Haitian street food: Dangerously Delicious.