Hundreds poured into the open-air plaza at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) in North Miami on Saturday for a food and music festival celebrating Haitian heritage.
For the third year in a row, Taste of Haiti brought together chefs and owners of Miami's popular Haitian restaurants and catering businesses specializing in Caribbean food so that the public could sample traditional as well as more modern staples of Creole cuisine.
A family-friendly event, people of all ages and nationalities tried specialties like tender tassot de cabrit (fried goat meat) and soup Joumou, a pumpkin- or squash-based soup made with beef, potatoes, vegetables and plantains. The soup is frequently eaten on New Year's Day as an homage to the defeat of the French by Haitian rebels during the Battle of Vertières. Haitian independence was officially achieved in 1804.
The Haitian Culinary Alliance, whose goal is to promote and introduce Haitian gastronomy, partnered with the city of North Miami and Commissioner Jean Monestime to bring the cultural and gastronomical event to the area known for its large Haitian-American population. This month marks Haitian Heritage Month, which has been celebrated every May for the past 17 years in the U.S.
“This is a perfect example of what happens when people get together,” said North Miami Mayor Dr. Smith Joseph on stage to the crowd before him during the event. “It's a positive movement.”
Joseph was born in Saint-Louis-du-Nord, Haiti, and moved to the U.S. during the late ’70s. He was elected mayor last November. The city was was rocked by unsettling news when his predecessor, North Miami's first female Haitian-American mayor Lucie Tondreau, was indicted for her role in a multimillion dollar mortgage fraud scam and was sentenced to over five years in federal prison.
A bounce-house and a ridable choo-choo train provided light-hearted entertainment for the many children who attended with their parents and relatives, even in the sweltering 90 degree heat. Cellist Guy Michel along with disc jockeys gave sound to the night and a chef competition with the sizzle of fried okra and other bites lent even more eclectic energy to the festival, which concluded at 10 p.m.