Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Spicy Chicken and Plantain - Fill the Belly and Soften the Heart

My kids are spoiled.

Your kids are spoiled.

I'm not criticizing- I'm stating facts.

It's our culture. It's our affluence. We can't help but be spoiled.

If you make $35k you are in the top 4% of the wealthiest in the world. 50k? Congrats- you are the top 1%.

We are the top of the top. And that $50k really isn't a huge achievement by US standards.

How can we not be considered spoiled?

We can't help but be removed from the reality that is the rest of the world.

To combat this and open my girls eyes and more importantly, hearts to our brothers and sisters around the world Ive decided to take a few meals a month and eat like the poor of the world.

Each time we will pick a country and eat like the people of that nation. We will learn about the country, it's culture, it's people, it's plight. We will take time and pray for the nation and its people.

I had Already decided to do this in a smaller way based on what God has been calling our hearts to over the last few months. It was going to be just one country specifically, for personal reasons but I've been reading The 7Project : An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess by Jen Hatmaker.

In it she chooses 7 areas of her life to sacrifice in. One is food. She chooses to eat 7 foods only for an entire month. To help her on her journey she has a council of friends who help her decide rules and projects. They also do the experiment in their own ways. For food month, the council picked the 7 poorest nations of the world and eats like them for the month.

And so my expansion began just one country to many and it became a monthly event rather that a one time deal.

To start our new project we chose Haiti. Haiti has a personal significance to our family and became the natural choice.

As I did my preliminary research for our meal (believe it or not I am not a master of obscure international cuisine) I kept hitting road blocks.

Naturally Haitian cuisine brings up limited- but delicious looking- results, I was not looking for just hatian cuisine.

We were to be eating like the poor of the country. Which in Haiti is about everyone but 100 people who all live on a couple blocks in Port Au Prince.

But I couldn't find (despite my google master search skills) resources on what the poor of the nation would eat.

Anybody could guess rice and beans- but since my kids ate that a few weeks ago and enjoyed it (and it could be the poor meal for every county and I'm looking to diversify) I wanted to find something more.

A startling trend began to develop as I added words to my search terms. Soon I was getting hits on specifically the diet of the impoverished of the island nation of Haiti.

They eat mud.

Mud cookies, mud cakes.

Literally. Made. Of. Mud.

I sobbed.

Only the very ignorant among us is unaware of the hunger that rocks the nations in this world. We all have the images of compassion international children eating meager portions of rice with a few beans interspersed throughout with their hands out of wooden bowls leaving no grain behind.

But mud?


3 meals a day.

These people live in a nation that was poor and deveatated long before the earthquake. Famine and starvation is not new to Haiti. It has suffered under corrupt leaders. It has suffered from lack of economy.

But the earthquake dragged this island nation to the depths.

This year Haiti was moved to the number one slot by the World Bank as Earths poorest nation.

Can you imagine?

The poorest of these beautiful people can't even afford rice most times now.

It's not just the quake. The rising oil prices have greatly impacted the nation. As does the maddening drive for bio fuel. Way to go liberals.

While we feel the pains in our wallets, Haitians feel it in their bellies.

With food prices up 40% in the Carribbean many find themselves unable to afford rice , which averages 60 cents for two cups (up ten cents from december and up 50% from a year ago)and have turned to buying the mineral rich dirt shipped in from Haitis central plateau.

Once used as an antacid among pregnant women, it is now a source of sustenance. Oftentimes the only source. After straining out rocks the dirt is then mixed with vegetable shortening and salt and eaten - often for every meal.

While it fills the belly it also brings it pain.

Being unable to obviously feed my children mud cakes (by the grace of God. Thank you God for your many blessings) I decided to just make a traditional Hatian meal and found a recipe on an orphanage site.

It consisted of chicken boiled in tomatoes and peppers and water served over rice.

Haitis rice is a far cry from the enriched rice we eat here. It's long and brown and -from what I've read from food travel blogs- tastes terrible. Not even the prized Prestige beer can mask the taste.

Oh and it's full of bugs.


I only had chicken breasts but they wouldn't be used typically.

I also made a side of fried plantains.

Plantains look like large green bananas. The flesh of one reminded me of a tam in texture and appearance while the other one had banana looking flesh. Apparently despite looking the same on the peel - the difference in flesh was due to differences in ripeness. Plantains are fried in all states of ripeness, so other than being annoying with different cooking times it made little difference.

Ella totally snubbed the meal. All of it. She didnt even try the plantains.

She went hungry until supper time.

Part of this experiment is also to get the kids to appreciate what they have.

Guess what - kids in haiti don't kid cuisine to pop in the microwave if they don't like the mud cake for the day and I'm tired of being expected to make four meals per meal.

Lest you find me too heartless- She also had been given plain rice in the event the chicken and sauce were too spicy . She refused to eat it, even though she loves plain rice.

Laci , my pickiest who won't eat chicken unless its breaded and fried by either McDonald's or chick fil a only- actually kept saying it was really good.
I'm not sure if she really liked the food or the idea behind it.

Laci has a heart for people of other countries. It's really neat to see her compassion at an early age. She's a spiritual kid for her age and I'm proud of her. And I take no credit, it belongs to her and God.

In any case she did like the plantains genuinely.

Being fried they taste like and interesting potato. They are very starchy . It's very potato like, yet slightly unique. And at the end of the flavor is a slight hint of sweetness (the depth of which is also determined by ripeness)

I suggest them for any meal. They're really actually good!

The girls all said a prayer for haiti and the Haitian people before they ate. I love when they speak from their heart.

Despite Ella not eating, and Layla eating very little, I feel it was a success. Our main goal was to expose them to other cultures in a concrete way and teach them about life outside of our blessed existence. I want to develop in them a compassion for other people and a desire to help and pray for those less fortunate.

We all can do more. If you're moved by the brief overview of the Haitian crisis consider looking into companies that benefit them.

3 Cords Haiti teaches women, many amputees or having other disabilities skills to provide an income. They sell beautiful bags and accessories.

Apparent Project another organization empowering the Haitians by teaching them workable skills and selling their goods. I'm actually partnering with them in the near future in conjunction with the call God has place on our families heart . More on that soon but in the meantime check out their site.

2nd Story Goods

Another organization same as the above premise: sustainable income through making beautiful things. Check out their bags and necklaces. Why buy from faceless corporations when you can get the same thing and give hope to people who need it?

The Hands And Feet Project

The Hands and Feet Project, founded by Audio Adrenaline in 2004, cares for 100 orphaned and abandoned children in the southern region of Haiti. Hands and Feet strives to provide family-style care for each child, giving each boy and girl the opportunity to reach their God given potential. However, our Children's Villages have reached their capacity. Sadly, we've had to turn away hundreds of children in need just in the past few months.

Love them. So inspiring.

Get involved, go be the Hands and Feet with them sponsor a child, donate.

Giving Hope Haiti

Do a one time donation, sponsor or co-sponsor a child or contribute to a families adoption costs.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

No comments:

Post a Comment