I Must Make Riz ak Djon Djon.

My family is from the North of Haiti. Haitians in the north just about love everything with cashews. There is one dish in particular that I just must have my grandmother make: rice and mushrooms, riz ak djon djon. It seems a bit weird when translated.

I have so many  memories of  my mother unpacking luggage of releatives who came to visit from Haiti.. We would always get djon djon, kassav and cashews. We would immediately have  kassav and spicy peaut butter (trust me, this is so good). Yesterday, as I spoke to my grandmother, discussing how I botched the rice dish, she told me something that made me realize, how she has coped with the earthquake in Haiti.  She could not understand why I was so crazy about this particular dish. “You know how to cook the other stuff, other rice dishes, why are you so crazy about this one?”  As  she called me my nickname, she told me “with everything that has happened in Haiti you have to get djon djon from someone who had it about a year ago….or djon djon from the North.  I don’t want you eating djon djon from the South…you understand, okay!”

As I was scanning the paper, preparing for the gym, I realized my grandmother has had black rice about four times this year and two were because I asked her to make it.  For her this mushroom, signifies the earthquake. For me, this mushroom is my history and  memories with my family.  She  won’t eat this mushroom, because now more than ever she does not want to think about the death.  Now, she asks people  “where did you get your djon djon?

For some reason, I have to perfect this recipe. Everyone loves my grandmothers rice. I want to cook it just like her. I don’t want to just make black rice with beans. I want to make her recipe.  I want those smiles when seasonings, spice and texture has been achieved.  I want my grandmother to eat my rice because one day she won’t be here.  Of course, my mother has perfected her recipe and has her signature Haitian dishes. As the first born, for my generation, the spoon and pot have been passed on to me.  I must perfect this dish.


Black Rice and Beans


Done! Black Rice and Beans


~ by travelling womanists on November 2, 2010.

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