Eating out in Haiti can be surprisingly expensive. Watch out for the prices on menus as some are in gourdes, some are in Haitian dollars (a non-existent currency from when the gourdes was historically tied to the US dollar; 5 gourdes …Open the full description
Eating out in Haiti can be surprisingly expensive. Watch out for the prices on menus as some are in gourdes, some are in Haitian dollars (a non-existent currency from when the gourdes was historically tied to the US dollar; 5 gourdes equals one Haitian dollar), or in US dollars. Generally "gds" or "gdes" means the number given refers to price in Haitian Gourdes while "$HT" means the price given is in Haitian dollars. When in doubt, ask!
Haiti does some food very well and other foods, not so well. The best things to eat are:
1) Fritay - marinated meat deep fried at roadside stands and served with picklies, deep fried starchy veggies (potatoes, pressed green plantains, breadfruit slices, or white sweet potato called patat). You order fritay by the amount of money you wish to pay. At a decent stand you'll pay about 150 gdes for a container with bit less than a cup of meat, two handfuls of fried starchy things, and a generous scoop of picklies. You can always ask the cook if you would like to have more picklies, at no additional charge. The best Fritay in PAP is at the market in Fermathe.
2) Peanut butter - Haiti grows peanuts. You can get them freshly roasted on the street, often outside cock fights or bars or in the market. Peanut butter is sold in tubs or glass jars and comes in spicy and non-spicy versions. The spicy kind isn't unbearably hot and is great spread on toasted French bread with banana or balanced with a bit of mango jam for breakfast.
3) Avocaods - They are cheap, easy to find in season, and come in a bewildering number of varieties. In Haiti we eat avocado slices with our spaghetti.
Which brings me to, 4) spaghetti - in Haiti this is a breakfast food. Noodles are boiled until dry, then pan fried with garlic, shallots and margarine (called TiMalice). A generous scoop of tomato paste is added for color and flavor. Salt, parsley, and thyme are commonly added, and you might find a stray scotch bonnet pepper in the mix for spice. This isn't your European or North American pasta though - don't expect sauce. The noodles are served in a heap on a plate or in a shallow bowl, topped with picklies and avocado, and then mayonnaise and/or ketchup is squirted over the whole thing.
5) Pumpkin soup (Soup Jou Moun) - this is traditionally served for the new year or on Sunday with hunks of toasted French bread. The soup itself usually has a pumpkin base with lots of root veggies, spinach, and hunks of meat (usually beef and sometimes chicken, though goat is also common).
In general you can inexpensive food on the street and in the street market (be prepared to bargain), though prices in restaurants and grocery stores are comparable to the US and Europe since many products are imported. Eatin on the street is generally safe - look for women cooking for larger crowds or go someplace like the Fermathe street market where there is a lot of turnaround.