A Taste Of History: Soup Joumou Brouhaha Highlights Fandom, Significance Of Dish
|Soup joumou dish by Chef Alain Lemaire. The signature dish consumed on January First, Haitian Independence Day, offers a taste of both Haitian cuisine and history. Photo: via @cheflemaire.|
Dixie Sandborn, a Michigan professor, knew nothing about Haitian culture until she began raising the two children she adopted from Haiti. Soon enough, she became very familiar with Haiti and a culinary hallmark: soup
Now, the soup
The soup dish has gained increasing popularity in recent years, particularly as a result of social media. Earlier this month, a Bon Appétit recipe that did not incorporate many of the original ingredients stirred up much controversy and revived spirited discussions online and offline about the significance of the soup.
“When I take the soup to an international dinner, I follow it exactly, because I want it to be authentic,” said Sandborn, who resides in East Lansing. “I decided to write about it because I had a connection to it through my kids and it has a lot of history.”
A taste of history
The dish dates back to 1804, when Haiti declared independence from French colonists, who forbade them from eating soup. It incorporates an array of hearty ingredients, including cabbage, potatoes, meat, Haitian epis, and the squash called “joumou,” Creole for pumpkin. Experts said the soup was originally conceived not just for its enjoyable flavor, but also for health.
As the soup continues to gain a fan base outside the Haitian community, many Haitian-Americans are creating everything from books to hoodies to tell the story of the soup. And with the New Year approaching, people both in the diaspora and in Haiti are planning to hold events to share the soup with their community.
Bayinnah Bello, a professor of history at the State University of Haiti whose courses include “Women and Society” and “First Peoples Civilization” explains why soup joumou holds such significance to Haitians.
“When Marie-Claire Heureuse Félicité Bonheur Dessalines created the empire of Haiti with her husband, Jean-Jacques Dessalines, her worry was what people could eat to survive, no matter what happened after independence,” Bello said. “She came up with the soup to make medicine and to treat tuberculosis, along with other illnesses.”
Through her organization, Fondasyon Félicité, Bello plans to make the soup with volunteers from all over Haiti this year and distribute the dish to more than 10,000 people.
Preparing the soup is an extensive process. First, the meat must be marinated overnight and then placed in a stockpot with water until it evaporates. As the meat is cooking, the vegetables, including the pumpkin, are washed and cooked over heat for an hour in a
Chefs emphasize that while there is a standard recipe for soup joumou, ingredients do vary based on
“I love the potatoes, carrots, and cabbage,” said Lamise Oyugi, a health administrator and YouTube influencer who has uploaded a soup j
Photo from Food Fidelity.
This article was originally published in The Haitian Times.