By: Derline Pierre-Louis, Guest Blogger
Reading about sauce pwa congo took me back to living at home with mom. Sunday after church, the table would display two or three whole fish, fried or cooked in sauce, a fresh cooked beet, watercress, fresh cooked carrot salad, a glass bowl of white rice, which can be eaten on its own, sauce pwa congo with coconut milk-depending if we were having guests and they did not eat coconut milk in their sauce pwa and of course juice made from either corosol, papaya, or mango or limes to name a few.
All from her garden in the backyard or bought from a Haitian or Latin market. The food was tasty, of course, but fresh, not from a can. You know how long it take to cook fresh pwa congo from the tree or dried pwa congo from a bag? Thank you for this trip back to salivating memory taste bud trip.
Pwa congo is pigeon peas. Green peas is pwa france or pwa vet. Pwa france/vet is sweet so we'd soak it in salt water to reduce the sweetness, and it can make it's own sauce or is sometimes mixed with pwa congo because pwa congo is more expensive, so to stretch it, green peas would be added. However, when cooking pwa france/vet with rice, it doesn't need to be soaked in salt water, as the water cooking the peas and rice has salt and that reduces the sweetness.
It's the same concept with Lalo and spinach. Lalo is a different green from spinach and has a different texture and preparing it can be tricky. If not cooked properly, it can become slimmy like overcooked okra (kalaloo). People form L'Artibonite are experts in this dish. When you see Lalo sold in restaurants, it is usually mixed with spinach, to stretch it. It's not commonly found in the markets and are imported from Haiti. This information varies slightly or drastically depending on which part of Haiti you're from.
What is your favorite Sunday food memory in Haiti?
By: Ford Pierre
What is the Battle of the Vertières in Haiti?
Each country has its own story. Every country has a milestone date or event that they are unlikely to forget. It can be either an independence, a battle or an occupation. November 18, 1803 is a date that marks one of the most significant days in the history of the Republic of Haiti, the “Battles of Vertières”. This November 18, 2021, Haiti will celebrate the 218th anniversary of this very important event in its history as an independent nation. Let's find out together in this article what the "Battle of Vertières" is and what it represents for Haitians.
The Course Of The Battle And What Caused The Battle of the Vertières
This battle took place in Cap-Haitien (called Cap-Français at the time), more precisely in Vertières, a district located in the Nord department at 3.45 km from the city. It opposed the Indigenous troops led by General Jean-Jacques Dessalines to those of the French army (the largest army at the time), commanded by General Rochambeau. On this day, Dessalines orders to take the fort of Vertières located on a hill near the city and inhabited by French troops almost decimated by disease and war. It should be mentioned that Dessalines did not physically participate in this battle. The one who led the Haitian troops was François Capois, nicknamed Capois-Lanmo for having continued to advance after having come close to death on several occasions. During this battle, the Indigenous army had a total of 27,000 soldiers against 2,000 for the French army. But the latter had everything in its favor because it was better equipped with more sophisticated weapons and superiority in military strategy. About 12,000 soldiers perished on the Indigenous side after 12 intense hours of bloody and merciless fighting. But thanks to the malicious and clever strategies of Dessalines, the Indigenous managed to shatter this myth which made people believe that the white man is superior to the black man by winning the victory over the greatest military force at the time, namely the French army. It is the biggest and the ultimate of the three great battles of the War of Independence. The two others are that of Ravine-à-Couleuvre (23 February 1802) and that of Crête-à-Pierrot (4-24 March 1802).
Haitian Heritage Over The Last 218 Years
The "Battle of Vertières" constitutes an important phase in the history of Haiti. This symbolic and historic battle marks the end of a long period of slavery. November 18, 1803 remains and therefore remains a mythical date which constitutes the essential element of Haitian historical heritage. 218 years after the Battle of Vertières, this date of November 18, 1803 has lost its historical significance for a few years while it is the very day of Haiti's independence. It was this battle that led to the official proclamation of independence on January 1, 1804.
In popular culture, a monument was erected and inaugurated on the Vertières site under the presidency of Paul Eugène Magloire, on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of Haitian independence.
Dany Laferrière, academician and brilliant Haitian writer, entered the word "Vertières" in a French dictionary for the first time on November 18, 2019 to recall what this word means in the history of Haiti.
Do you have any plans to honor this historical day this November 18th?