“Is tasteless food eaten without salt, or is there flavor in the sap of the mallow? I refuse to touch it; such food makes me ill.” Job 6:6-7
One of the tasks that a Trinity/HOPE team member undertakes when going to Haiti is to check the status of where the food is stored and to check on the supplies that are used for the food that is prepared. Storage areas might be anything from a small building about the size of an outdoor privy with a chain and padlock on the door to a small storage room in a school also with a locked door. We check for any traces of rodent droppings or bugs or mildew; ensure the food is in a safe place.
Supplies are generally a can of vegetable oil, a couple of bags of red beans, a bag of rice, sometimes there are some vegetables, a can of tomato paste, a box of Maggi which is a seasoning and usually there will be a container of smoked herring, or as is the case in the attached photo a box with some of the smelly fish. You may be thinking “ew!” but the fish is used sparingly and gives the rice and beans a delicious hint of smoke. My taste buds crave Haitian food from time to time and plantain, goat and rice and beans find their way into my kitchen quite often. My personal favorite recipe for Diri ak sòs pwa is as follows; 1 cup dried pinto beans, soaked overnight in 5 cups of water, 2 tablespoons of olive oil, 1/3 cup tomato paste, I medium white onion, diced, 4 cups white rice, 2 bay leaves, 1 smoked kipper snack (smoked herring), ¼ teaspoon ground cloves, 3 large sprigs fresh parsley, 3 sprigs fresh thyme and salt and pepper to taste,
In a large pot, bring the beans and their soaking water to a boil. Lower the heat, cover the pan, and simmer about 45 minutes, or until they are tender. Drain the beans, reserving liquid. In the same large pot, heat the oil. Add the onion and herring, cook, stirring, for 2 minutes or until the mixture browns lightly. Next, stir in the beans and tomato paste and cook for 2 minutes, stirring. Next measure the reserved cooking liquid, and add enough water to make 8 cups. Pour it into the beans and bring to a boil. Stir in the rice. Lower the heat and simmer, stirring often, for 20 minutes or until only a little liquid remains. Turn the heat to the lowest setting. Stir in the bay leaves, salt, pepper, and cloves. Place the parsley sprigs and thyme sprigs on top. Press a large piece of foil directly onto the rice; many Haitian cooks use a large piece of plastic. Cover the pot and continue cooking for 18 to 20 minutes or until the rice is very tender. Remove parsleyand thyme before serving.
Next get a metal pie pan or plastic cereal bowl and a spoon and place two and a half cups of rice and beans into your serving bowl and set it at your table. Wash your hands under running water, wipe them dry on a cloth towel, say your mealtime prayer and imagine that you are dining with a child attending a Christian school somewhere in Haiti savoring each spoonful of your only meal of the day.
Dear Heavenly Father, you have called your servants to ventures of which we cannot see the ending, by paths as yet untrodden, through perils unknown. Give us faith to go out with good courage, not knowing where we go but only that your hand is leading us and your love supporting us through Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior. Amen.
May God be with you…Jay