January 22, 2022

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Haiti’s “Jomo Soup” is a historical dish with a taste of freedom

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Porto Principe (AFP) – Combining meat, vegetables, pasta and giramon squash, it gets its name from the previously banned “zumo soup” for slaves, tasted by Haitians on January 1 each year, which symbolizes the independence of their country.

Listed as a World Heritage Site, this soup has long been synonymous with repression on the Caribbean island: pumpkins were cultivated by many slaves necessary for its preparation. French plantation owners.

But on January 1, 1804, when the first black republic was born, Mary-Claire Hurres Felicit, the wife of Jean-Jacques Tessalins, the leader of the first Haiti, decided to serve this meal in moderation.

Cooking that soup is “a way of symbolizing victory over these years of scarcity, oppression and colonialism,” says Natalie Cardichon, while buying all the ingredients to prepare the national dish at the market.

“This is the weight of this soup,” he says seriously.

Rosemine Dorsius prepares traditional soup on December 31, 2021 in Port-au-Prince, Haiti Richard Pierre’s AFP

It also marks the moment when families reunite. This year has been a complicated one for many.

– Insecurity –

Haiti was hit by a devastating earthquake on July 7, 2021, after it recorded the assassination of its president by an armed commando. Political unrest and poverty have increased, and kidnappings have become as powerful as the work of gangs.

Insecurity and the inability to use roads protected by armed gangs are forcing many Haitians to spend the New Year with their loved ones.

“I have friends at university, their parents do not live in Port-au-Prince and I can’t meet them in the provinces because of the security situation,” explains Stephanie Smith, a student from the capital. “So I call you!”

A pot of traditional soup on January 1, 2022 in Port-au-Prince, Haiti
A pot of traditional soup on January 1, 2022 in Port-au-Prince, Haiti Richard Pierre’s AFP

His mother, Rosmeen Dorsius, often prepares “jomo soup” for his family, but on every national holiday, he cooks whole dishes.

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Enough to feed “a number of people,” this 54-year-old Haitian modestly believes his daughter will be enough for about thirty restaurants.

“There are eight of us in my family, but unfortunately, in the neighborhood, there are people who can’t make soup, so we think about them,” the 27-year-old explains.

Work in the kitchen starts the day before, and even at dawn on January 1st, the ladies of the family are busy around the stove.

Rosemène Dorséus recalled the days when she and her husband made soup together when the children were young. “Now that my daughters are older, they help me,” he says.

– “Tradition of our ancestors” –

The soup with its rich history has now gained international recognition and has been elevated to the level of the extraordinary heritage of mankind by UNESCO.

Dominic Dubois, Haiti’s ambassador to UNESCO, believes that “Haiti’s struggle and its voice are invisible today.” Addiction.

According to him, the dedication of “Jumo Soup” is a “historic correction”.

Rosemine Dorsius prepares traditional soup on January 1, 2022 in Port-au-Prince, Haiti
Rosemine Dorsius prepares traditional soup on January 1, 2022 in Port-au-Prince, Haiti Richard Pierre’s AFP

His representatives made every effort to include it in the register, demanding that the file be processed in August. On December 16, he finally got an excellent score.

He said 2021 was an “exceptionally painful year” and people needed “ways to help lift our heads,” said Cape Haitian, a city saddened by the December 14 tanker explosion. Life of 90 people.

In Haiti, cooking “zumo soup” has been a tradition for over two centuries, a way of honoring your country and its past.

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According to Natalie Kardashian, it is a way of inviting the world to “discover the history of Haiti” and a way of showing how “we are so proud to be upholding the heritage of our ancestors”.