Haitian American Author Nadege Fleurimond created HAITI UNCOVERED, a full color coffee table culinary book with photos, recipes, history and culture to be used as a reference for Haitians and Non-Haitians. Check out this Q&A with her and The Real Haiti!
- Did you grow up in Haiti? Where are you from?
I was born in Haiti, but left at the age of 7. I was born in the capital city of Port-au-Prince, but my family is from the South Department in a city called Les Cayes. That is usually the city that I represent when anyone ask me where I am from. But from 7, Brooklyn has been home. The only time I moved out was when I attended college across the bridge in Manhattan at Columbia University.
- Who were the biggest influencers in your life, especially related to cooking?
Funny enough, my father. He is an amazing cook. As much as he is against this culinary career that I have chosen, he really is my big inspiration. I saw what he was able to do with food, and I was inspired at a very young age.
- What was your "ah-ha" moment that made you trade the courtroom for your passion, the culinary industry?
I grew up first wanting to be a doctor. That was mainly because, as Haitian person that's your first calling. So when I attended Brooklyn Tech, I was on this Bio-Chem track full of math and sciences, then I realized I hated it.
Upon attending college, all my friends would praise my analytical skills and ability to keep calm and collected in situations. They loved how fair I was in most situations, and we all agreed I should be a lawyer. And it made sense to me, because I am thinker.
I don't think I ever gave up my law dreams. I am not one of those people who believe that we all only have one calling. I still have aspirations to go to law school. I may never practice, but I honestly think my mind was made to function as a lawyer.
The kitchen chose me. It initially started off as, let me give this a try. To oh, lets see where this will go. 12 years later, I still don't think I have chosen this as my sole path. But I have enjoyed this journey thoroughly and I will continue to do it to the extent that enjoyment and fulfillment is there.
- How would you describe your cooking style?
Diverse. I love real food. I love food that touches your marrow. It has to taste good. Often time people make pretty food that doesn't taste that amazing. I believe you need both. I love amazing, real food, that taste awesome. I love cooking in ways that reminds you of your grandmother, mother, or amazing master uncle cook.
- When traveling in Haiti while doing research for your book, what was the one place that you visited that inspired you the most? Or had the most impact?
I think food wise it has to be Jeremie. Jeremie is in the Grand-Anse region of Haiti. The Grand-Anse is the southern Western tip of Haiti. It is very isolated from the rest of Haiti as the road to get there are not the very best. They are just plain bad. So just the travelling was inspiring, but the food culture there is very distinct. They have items that are very unique to their region such as tom tom, which is a dish made out of mashed bread fruit with a tasty slippery okra sauce. Pisket is another loved dish from the region, which is a dish made of tiny fish, sautéed in oil, tomato paste and seasoning.
- Tell us your favorite part of the real Haiti and why we need to keep spreading awareness of this beautiful land.
The people. While the food is amazing and down right knee buckling good and the beaches and various scenes are a sight to behold, the people of Haiti are the real charm of the country. The humor and candor of a Haitian person is one of the most amazing experiences one can encounter.
The book is currently available via our website at http://www.nadegefleurimond.com and also on Amazon.com