A Haitian Culinary Adventure

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I first (and last) discovered Haitian cuisine soon after I was married, almost 25 years ago. I had gotten a book on ethnic restaurants in the Bay Area at a used book sale and one of the restaurants it featured and gave most praise to was La Belle Creole, a Haitian restaurant in Emeryville, right next to Oakland. Its menu featured exotic meats I had never tasted before, including rabbit, Guinea hen and alligator. You had to let the chef know what your choice would be when you called to make your reservation.

The restaurant, located in the ground floor of an old Victorian House, had an eclectic dining room: half Victorian grandma, half budoir. I half-remember posters of women with little clothes, but they seemed tasteful. Back then, this was the fanciest restaurant I'd ever eaten at. I absolutely loved it. Looking back, I can't really say this was an authentic Haitian restaurant - perhaps the Chef Gerard (if I'm right about his name) simply drew inspiration from Haitian creole cuisine for his preparations, but it was what I had in mind when I approached this cuisine.

What I found was a bit different, less exotic, more approachable and yet quite interesting. The dishes reflect both a French and a Caribbean influence, as you would expect, and I had both winners and loosers. This is what I cooked: