[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

6501: Celebration Soup: Haitians mark their nation's independence... (fwd)

From: nozier <nozier@tradewind.net>

Published Sunday, December 31, 2000, in the Miami Herald
 Celebration Soup: Haitians mark their nation's independence on Jan. 1
with the
 richest and best

 The Haitian people are proud of their glory. And as citizens of the
 independent black country in the Western Hemisphere, they had to come
up with
 a glorious dish to celebrate their independence day, Jan. 1, 1804.
 Therefore, for almost 200 years, joumou, Haitian yellow squash soup,
has had to
 be the best on Jan. 1. The soup must measure up to the spirit of the
day, to the
 beauty of our independence, to the nonstop celebration of our triumph.
 On Jan. 1 the soup must be brightly yellow and made with a lot of meat.
 yellow is the color that will make money flow into the household
(according to
 superstition), Haitians will not miss their New Year's soup, no matter
where they
 have migrated. On the eve of our independence day, many memories of
joumou come back to me. I remember Pratik Tita from my childhood days in
Port-au-Prince. Pratik is
 the name given to the street vendors who regularly go to houses in a
 neighborhood to sell their products. Tita was our pratik, and she was
my mother's
 protégé. Tita knew the importance of the squash for New Year's soup.
``It must be the
 best,'' she would say. Each year she would put aside the yellowest
squash for my
 mother and would proudly say, ``Joumou jonn, wa fe enpil cob.'' (``The
squash is
 yellow; you will make a lot of money.'')
 Mother not only added extra meat to the New Year's Day soup, but like
 Haitian cooks, she saved and added the bones of the Christmas ham for a
 flavor. Oh, so many memories! How can I forget Jan. 1, 1965? It was my
first New Year's Day in America. The day before, mother and I set out in
hopes of buying a piece
 of yellow squash. Back in those days, West Indies products were not
 found in Brooklyn, where we lived, but we thought everything could be
found in
 Manhattan. It was a mission impossible. Not only did we not know where
in Manhattan to find a grocery store, but we were afraid to distance
ourselves too much from the
 station where we could catch the GG train back to Brooklyn.
 We ended up in the middle of Macy's like two lost souls, my mother
wearing a
 gray coat that we called sourit (mouse), and me with high black boots
that made
 me look like a black cat (un chat bott). Anyone who saw us probably
knew that
 we were foreign. We were so determined to return home with that piece
of yellow squash that we would not have hesitated to go to Saks Fifth
Avenue and use our poor English and our French-English dictionary to ask
for that special ingredient. But alas, we
 returned empty-handed to Brooklyn on our GG train. We felt foreign and
 But as we got to our little apartment, the first thing we saw on the
kitchen table
 was half a yellow squash, so yellow that we knew it had to come from
 Believe it or not, Pratik Tita had sent it as a New Year's gift to

 Haitian storyteller Liliane Nerette Louis lives in North Miami. She is
the author of
 When Night Falls, Kric! Krac!