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Posted by on Dec 17, 2021 in Haiti News & History

Culture in a Bowl: Soup Joumou

Joumou soup, made from turban squash (joumou), meat, potatoes, malanga, yams, turnips and chilli, is a sign of ‘hope and encouragement’ for the people of Haiti. Photograph: Unesco

Today, I learned that Haiti’s joumou soup was awarded protected status by Unesco. Happy day! This is my absolute favorite Haitian dish, and one which Dave and I have enjoyed on several occasions… most notably on New Year’s Day in 2016.

In Haiti, the first of January not only marks the beginning of another year, it also marks the passage of another year of freedom from slavery.

On January 1, 1804, Haiti became the world’s first democratic black republic. Having defeated Napoleon’s troops, the country’s former slaves became the country’s governors, and the people were free to eat the food that had been previously forbidden to them. Of the Frenchmen’s cuisine, they chose Soup Joumou (Soupe de Giraumon) as the symbol of their liberation, and every Haitian Independence Day, it’s what on the menu in every Haitian home.

Dave and I had the great fortune to be served soup joumou for breakfast New Year’s morning during our three-month stay in Haiti. It’s a creamy turban squash (similar to pumpkin) soup with meat (usually beef), potatoes and other vegetables, including yams, malanga (a root vegetable that looks like a yam wearing a furry coat), turnips, and hot chilli peppers… and it is absolutely delicious!

Our New Year’s Day soup joumou, served at the Chateau Champvert, Torbek (our home away from home).

The nomination of soup joumou was considered by Unesco on compassionate grounds, after the country’s difficult year.

“It is a great joy and a point of pride to see this project come to fruition today, just two weeks before the Haitian independence day. It is an important gesture of recognition for the entire Haitian culture and identity, which will further strengthen its influence throughout the world,” said Audrey Azoulay, Unesco’s director general.

Here’s a link, if you’d like to learn more:

Culture in a bowl: Haiti’s joumou soup awarded protected status by Unesco (The Guardian, Fri 17 Dec 2021)