In a country that struggles with hunger and malnourishment, many Haitians turn to the informal street restaurants known as "manje kwit" or "Chin Janbe" that line many of the city's major streets.
The manje kwit or Chin Jambe cooks offer meals for $1 or less. Their fare is a lifeline for many Haitians living on less than $2 a day.
From small houses made of sheet metal and draped with sheets, they serve teachers, students, porters and shoe polishers just to name a few.
If you have visited Haiti but never tasted their street food, your exploration is yet incomplete. You can identify over one hundred and fifty street food items in the informal street restaurants that line many of the city's major streets. Haitian foods are a blend of influences. Creole cuisine originates from a blend of several culinary styles that populated the western portion of the island of Hispaniola, namely the French, African, Taíno natives, and Spanish influence. Mixed roots and spices, basic yet zippy, simple and grounded by the reality of the tropics and the back-story of its African heritage, yet touched with a hint of French complexity. Street food is comparatively a new concept in Haiti. Vendors sit under umbrellas on every Port-au-Prince sidewalk peddling fare like fried plantains, chicken, and spaghetti. Some enterprising Haitians, however, are consciously taking a cue from food truck scenes abroad and adding their own Creole twist.
Haitian Street Food Sellers are known as 'Chin Janbe'--they are the lifeline for many of the capital's food-insecure resident. The street food venders are simple poor men who prepare food in their small houses and shanties. Some of them are great chefs who sell their foods in the stalls near bus stations, churches or on the edges of local markets and serve local people at an affordable price like 75 gourdes ($1) or less, while the average cost of a plate of food in basic Creole restaurants here is 250 Haitian gourdes ($4). Haiti is one of the poorest countries in the Western Hemisphere, where most citizens live on less than $2 a day.
In early July when protests against price hikes paralyzed Port-au-Prince, these informal street chefs known as "manje kwit, without prior notice, were forced close their stalls. They could not sell their prepared foods. Whatever they had, had to share within the family and rest distributed free to their neighbors. Thus, they lost a major part of their savings cum investment in a single day. During the five days of protest, many of their poor clients struggled to find food which they can afford to buy.
Here is a picture of Delimart Plaza in Delmas 32, Port-au-Prince, Haiti being looted during a protest over fuel price increase on July 7, 2018.
On Friday, July 6, 2018, when the Haitian Commerce Ministry and Economic Ministry issued a joint statement announcing an increase of 38%, 47% and 51% price for gasoline, diesel, and kerosene respectively, it triggered days of violent civil unrest and demonstrations. Major protests erupted in the country with demonstrators using burning tires and barricades to block major streets across the capital and in the northern city of Cap-Haitien. Dozens of shops were looted and burned and cars were set ablaze. At least four people were killed.
Western Premiere hotel in Petion-Ville was ransacked, banks and stores in Delmas were looted, and many flights were either cancelled or rescheduled.
On Saturday, July 17, 2018, looters pillaged burned and vandalized Delimart Plaza. Delimart Plaza is one of the biggest supermarket chains in the capital city, Port-au-Prince. The superstore was founded by Dr. Reginald Boulos in 2000 who is a medical doctor and former chairman of Intercontinental S.A. Since its foundation the shop kept growing to become the biggest supermarket chain in the entire city. It the best place for quality goods at the lowest price, especially the one at Delmas 32, Delimart is comparable to any Publix or Walmart grocery stores in the U.S as far as the range of products and prices are concerned. However, unfortunately, this shop has been completely destroyed by the violent agitators.
The local management is presently engaged in quantifying the damages, both in financial and human terms. As per news dated, July 11, 2018, the Delimart S.A has announced that their properties located in various locations in Haiti such as in Delmas 32, Delmas 30 and Clercine were looted and some burned. The management has decided to keep their shops closed until further notice. The Directorate General of Delimart is aware of the precarious and difficult situations that will arise due to this closure.
This closure of the stores will severely and lastingly affect hundreds of direct and indirect jobs. The local suppliers will bear the brunt of the negative effects. Moreover, the entire national economy will suffer with the rise of the unemployment rate as about 673 people will lose jobs in the stores due to this indefinite closure.
Here is a picture of the future home of The Citadel food Hall in Little Haiti.
It is a fact that Miami serves up an abundance of culture at every neighborhood, on every street corner. The city is always in a constant state to remain poised for growth and change. Recently, Conway Commercial Real Estate and Urban Atlantic Group are planning to open a 10,000-square Food Hall called "The Citadel" on Little Haiti's northern boundary on NE Second Avenue. The space with about 20 favorite restaurants is slated to open sometime next year. There will be stalls for pizza, steak, sushi, Spanish tapas, and tacos. As per Thomas Conway, the principal of Conway Commercial, there will be places for bakery, coffee, wine bar and a butcher. It will have a nice blend of local and national operators who understand how neighborhoods develop through food. The Citadel will house multiple culinary concepts, creative workspaces, retail outlets, and a rooftop bar all out of a historical location.
This Saturday, April 16, 2016 many personalities of the Haitian media was present at the inauguration of Maison Kreyol in the city of Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic. The new Haitian restaurant in Santo Domingo opened during Diaspora Week.
It is primarily a Haitian restaurant which is considered to be the first of its kind in the neighboring country. It is already predicted to become a success for the Haitian community living in the Dominican Republic as the new Maison Kreyol will be a central location for Haitians either living or visiting the Dominican Republic.
A deadly alcohol in Haiti. Since last February, Haiti's General Hospital has registered 21 deaths out of 32 patients who were admitted with cases alcohol poisoning by consuming popular locally made spirit 'Moonshine' ('clairin' or 'kleren' in Creole). The victims drank this distilled sugarcane liquor containing poisonous methanol. The presence of methanol you can never see, smell or feel, but small amounts can make you very ill or even kill you. Some of the symptoms of methanol poisoning are severe headache, stomach ache, vomiting, and loss of vision. The number of victims could have been less had prior alerts been issued after the earlier reports of poisoning. However, some of the drinkers found the spurious drink stinging, much bitter than normal as if the merchant had added cure-all-medicinal herb Asorosi or cerasee in the liquor, ruining its strength and aromatic flavor.