Beans: a side with many dishes and often served with rice
Rice: a common base to meals or simply a side dish; often served
Regional Variations, Specialties, & Unique Dishes
Legim: beef or crab stew that usually includes eggplant,
cabbage, spinach, and watercress, but can include many more vegetables
Poul Ak Nwa: found only in the north, this dish is made
with chicken and cashews
Griots with Rice & Beans: the national dish consists of fried
pork cubes, rice, beans, and bananas, usually covered with hot sauce
Tchaka: pork, bean, and pumpkin stew
The Haitians have a mix of dining traditions between
French, Caribbean, and Central American etiquettes. Generally the people
are very laid back and easy going, but there are some dining rules all guests should
try to adhere to. This begins with your arrival and dress as you may arrive a few
minutes late and in casual clothing, but if meeting a business partner or going
to a local's home dress a bit nicer as this shows respect.
As you enter the room to eat, allow women and "senior" men to enter first
and allow your host to show you your seat. Couples are often separated and the seating
tends to alternate between men and women so conversation can be encouraged. Often
times drinks will be served with a meal and your host will welcome you with a toast
of "salud." If not drinking, the meal will begin with the words
As you eat use the continental style (knife in the right hand, fork in the left)
and keep your hands within sight at all times by resting your wrists on the edge
of the table. Once you have finished place your knife and fork together on the right
side of your plate.
If you are eating in a restaurant, get the server's attention by making eye
contact; don't wave or call his/her name. A gratuity is usually not included
in your bill so be sure to add a tip of about 10% to the bill and hand all the money
to your server directly.
Celebrations & Events
As with most Caribbean destinations, the celebrations in Haiti
must begin with Carnival, which takes place just before the beginning of Lent. Although
this celebration is now more about the music, dancing, and partying, its origin
comes from a great over consumption that takes place just before Lent begins and
remnants of this origin are still seen. During this time the people over indulge
in meats and fatty foods prior to their Lenten requirements of fasting.
Other holidays, most particularly Christmas is celebrated with large feasts for
families, but one unique aspect of this holiday is a drink called "kremas."
Kremas is a local Haitian drink that is made of milk and rum
and is most often served during the Christmas holiday, but can be found year round.
Haiti boasts all the popular drinks from teas and coffees
to colas and milk, but juices and some unique drinks rule the nation. Among the
more popular juices are guava, mango, orange, passion fruit, pineapple, and coconut
milk/water among others. If you ever tire of the juice selection or are simply looking
for something unusual try akasan, which is cornmeal, evaporated milk, sugar,
cinnamon and other spices or try malta, which is flavored with barley and
Again, Haiti offers nearly every kind of alcoholic beverage
available although some, including wine and some hard liquors are not real common.
Beer is a mainstay on many menus and you can find both international brands as well
as local beers, such as "Prestige." Rum is the other common beverage and
the Haitians prefer the local "Rhum Barnancourt" although it can be expensive.
A popular mixed drink using rum is cremas, a creamy coconut, milk, and
rum drink; if you want an adventure, perhaps a slightly dangerous and ill-advised
one, seek out kleren, the local moonshine.
The tap water in Haiti should not be consumed. Be sure to
also avoid anything with ice as it may have been made from the tap water. Salads
and fruits could have also been washed in the tap water so be careful with those
foods as well.