Hello readers. I spent the first ten days of this month traveling from Alaska to the country of Haiti and back. Our group of 16 helped build a church in a remote village on the island of La Gonave and we continue to endeavor to provide a source of clean water for that same community.
While there, you could often find me helping prepare food (where I learned to make a fresh goat from start to finish the way the locals do from a formidable Haitian matriarch named Mama Elyse pictured above), behind the camera capturing the people and the moments, digging up my college French in an attempt to speak Creole, spending time with the children and the team members, or painting walls (and myself in the process). We traveled on several planes, a large box truck, in the bed of a tiny pickup truck crammed full of people and supplies, on a handmade sailboat on the Caribbean that very closely resembled a pirate ship, and on the back of a motorcycle with two other people and no helmets on a treacherous, rocky, steep thing that could only sometimes be called a road.
The mangoes were ripe and the rice and beans were daily. There was a chicken nesting in the outhouse, donkeys and goats on the road, and cockroaches and tarantulas scurrying the ground. The rooster crowed, the generator hummed, the donkey brayed, the plywood clapped together to make rhythm and song, the nails were driven into the roof, the jump rope slapped the ground. The weather was hot and humid, the water was the bluest blue and the warmest warm, and the people were absolutely beautiful – hardworking, curious, resourceful, and full of hope and laughter and music.
There’s not meant to be an easy segue here – from my experience in Haiti to returning to life here as a food writer. There’s no way to go to a remote place where the people have little food and no clean water and not have it make you pause before talking about recipes. And that’s exactly as it should be.
So, mindfully and simply, I offer you this Lemon Chicken with Asparagus. It tastes amazing, especially when eaten with gratitude and an awareness of how vast this world is and what a privilege it is to sit down at the table and enjoy a satisfying meal together, wherever we may be.