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Sauce Ti Malize (Creole Hot Sauce)

Cultural Perspectives

By Tim Hazell

“Konesans se riches”
(Knowledge is Wealth)

Haiti is mountainous and denuded, with only one-third of its land under cultivation. Its capital and chief seaport, Port-au-Prince, was founded in 1749 by French sugar planters and has suffered the throes of earthquakes and civil warfare. Its infrastructure is weakened by profound economic inequality and political instability.

In his book Iron Flowers, published in New Orleans in 1979, African journalist and poet Kalamu ya Salaam wrote about the crushing poverty that surrounded him but also gave us fleeting glimpses of rare beauty.

Tomorrow’s Toussaints
Haiti, where
freedom has flowered
and flown
fascinating like long necked
flamingoes gracefully feeding
on snails in small pinkish
sunset colored sequestered ponds.
where the sea sings roaring ashore
and fecund fertile hills lull and roll
quasi human in form…

Performers such as Emeline Michel have achieved international recognition among Haiti’s new generation of songwriters and recording artists. Haitian Creole flows over the tongue and into the throat like honey, a savory mixture, the elegance of French and spice of dialect. Wyclef Jean stirs the pot with Tande. (Listen.)


Wase mikrofon nan mwen se gouveman ou
(Give me the microphone I become your government)
Bon nom’m se Wyclef yo rele’m fanfan
(My real name’s Wyclef they call me fanfan)

François Dominique Toussaint L’Ouverture (1743–1803), Haiti’s first hero, embodied the strength of character of African slaves who worked the plantations, brought to the island as forced labor. His spirit and tenacity live on, vibrating in Creole rhythms.

Haiti’s Creole culture, despite continuing struggles as the poorest nation in the Caribbean, manifests itself like bright tropical plumage. Haitian cuisine is renowned for its ability to scintillate the palate, blending French, African, and Spanish influences, such as this savory Chicken Creole.

3 lbs. chicken thighs
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/2 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1/2 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 large onion, thinly sliced
2 scallions, finely chopped
2 sprigs parsley, finely chopped
2 sprigs thyme
Juice of two limes
3/4 cup orange juice
2 1/2 tbsp. tomato paste
1 habanero pepper
1 1/2 tsp. salt
6 whole cloves
2 tbsp. olive or vegetable oil

Pull skin off chicken thighs, rub with juice of 1 lime, and rinse with cold water. In large bowl mix chicken and half the portions of garlic, onion, scallions, and parsley; add green bell pepper, thyme, salt, and 1 tbsp. remaining lime juice. Let stand to marinate two hours. Heat oil in a large casserole on medium heat. Sauté tomato paste with remaining portions of onion, scallions, and garlic. Add red bell pepper. Add chicken and stir until beginning to brown. Add orange juice, cover, and cook for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Uncover and continue to cook until tender. Add 1 cup of water, whole habanero pepper, cloves, rest of parsley, and simmer for a further 10 minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings. Serve with rice and plantain.

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