Housekeeping in Haitian Creole XI: Mme Josette, The Magnificent

Haiti, cooking, professional cook, traditional food

Mme Josette shows off her onion tart

One of the great joys of knowing Mme Josette is that we don’t know everything about her – poko (kreyol for not yet).

There are wondrous new things to discover. As we found out just last week. Bright and early on Monday, Mme Josette arrived bearing a large tart that might have come straight out of a patisserie in Paris.

“Pou ou. Se tart zonyon (for you. It’s onion tart,” she smiled.

“Eske ou fe manje?(did you bake it)” I asked admiring, hardly able to believe that she had turned up with one of the best looking dishes I’ve seen in a long time.

“Wi,” she said blandly.

“Mesi anpil. Fok mwen bay ou lajan (many thanks you must let me pay you).”

“Non, non,” she shook her head. “Pou ou.”

So we accepted the gracious gift and did what we could to return the gesture with a few cans that she might use to bake with at home.

IMG_0243It proved to be an excellent – and canny – advertisement for Mme Josette. We contracted to pay her extra to bake an onion tart and another dish and pudding for a small dinner party.

She did. The coronets were beautiful – filled with ground beef, with long purple onion and green pepper spikes curling out of them.

Coronets vyann moule

Coronets vyann moule

The ‘Blancmange’ pronounced by Haitians ‘Blan-moan-jay’ was delicious and not at all like the blancmange the world knows and might expect.

And we learnt that Mme Josette went to cookery school and ran a patisserie for years. “M te apran nan lekol pwofesyonal (I learnt at professional school),” she told me with quiet pride.

“Ou artist,” I responded, failing to find the right kreyol word to describe her evident expertise and joy in creating superb food.

It did the trick. She left happy and assured that we appreciated her artistry.

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