Housekeeping in Haitian Creole – Part VII

by Rashmee

Posted on March 16, 2013



 

cooking, stew, kreyol, Haiti
This isn’t it, but the stew was too watery because I couldn’t explain that it needed slowly to  thicken on the stove

My kreyol cooking vocabulary languishes at the outer margins of ignorance. Meanwhile, the stew continues too watery and the okra is either over or under-cooked but never ‘just right’.

Let me explain. It’s not Mme Josette who’s failing the Goldilocks test. She simply doesn’t know it, or certainly not in the way I understand it. In our house, the stew needs to be thick and the okra fries crisp. But my kreyol is too fragmentary to explain.

So when I left a stew to cook long and slow on the stove, thickening in the process, the good lady was not at fault for turning it off, thinking it might burn.

Okra fries are best when they are 'byen kwit' or well-cooked, as they say in kreyol
Okra fries are best when they are ‘byen kwit’ or well-cooked, as they say in kreyol

When I put okra into a hot oven, sliced thin lengthwise, daubed with a little oil and dredged in seasoned flour, the idea was to make okra fries. Mme Josette, bless her heart, took them out too early. They weren’t crunchy enough. They needed to be “byen kwit”, I later learnt I needed to say when I wanted something to be well cooked.

Alternatively, I could say “sa gen pou kwit pou yon bon bout tan (this has to cook for a long time)”.

I’m starting twice-weekly kreyol lessons from Tuesday. Hopefully, housekeeping will get a bit of the Creole sauce (or sos kreyol) that adds flavor to life in Haiti.

Jack Kerouac
“Our battered suitcases were piled on the sidewalk again; we had longer ways to go. But no matter, the road is life”
– Jack Kerouac

Rashmee has lived and worked in several countries in the past decade, including Afghanistan, India, Haiti, Tunisia, the UAE, US and UK

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