We now have spent four Thanksgivings in Haiti. We moved the week of Thanksgiving in 2008. At that time, we were living at the New Hope Haiti Mission. And since every Thursday they have had a big, goat soup with a lot of huge vegetables all cooked together (in Creole, Boullion), that is what we ate our first Thanksgiving in Haiti.
The next Thanksgiving, we decided to have a huge Thanksgiving feast, the best we could come up with. We shopped long and hard at the Caribbean supermarket (which went down in the 2010 earthquake) to find the things we needed. Our Haitian friends, Jean Claubert and Louizanie Belton came over to join in with our festivities. Louizanie prepared diri djon djon (rice with mushrooms) at our house. While I watched her prepare the delicious Haitian dish, I noticed that everything was fresh, real, and whole. The rice, the beans, the coconut, the green onions, the mushroom were all very natural while I opened cans of green beans, cranberry sauce, and sweet potatoes. It was at that moment that I realized that what I thought was cooking a homemade Thanksgiving was really just opening and dumping and mixing.
This realization led me on a challenge to really learn to cook. Many times here in Haiti we cannot find the things we want at the grocery or the price is so outrageous that we refuse to pay. Instead of doing without, we have learned to make what we need. It has been a fun adventure and we continue on this path of using what is available to get what we need/want.
This year, the only thing we had to use that was canned were the sweet potatoes. Unfortunately, we cannot find that traditional sweet potato variety here in Haiti. Eric really wanted my mom’s sweet potato souffle, so we had to settle for canned yams. Sure there were some random cans thrown in the mix here and there, but overall, I thought it all turned out pretty fresh. I even made my first pumpkin pie all the way from scratch. Definitely, the way to go!
The winner of the most beautiful dish was my mother-in-law’s cranberry salad.
The absolute freshest part of dinner had to be the TURKEY!!
Happy Thanksgiving to all of you from the Lotz Family in Port-au-Prince, Haiti!!