It is a muggy August evening here in Port-au-Prince. The fan is fighting a losing battle to keep us cool as we wash dishes together at the sink. Madeline’s bedroom door is open, and we hear her quiet hiccups as she sleeps. It is hard to believe that this time last year we were cooking in our Pittsburgh kitchen, planning our baby’s birth in a country we had never before visited. Madeline will be 7 months old next week, and each day her little personality gets bigger. She is a warm and pensive little baby, who adores her sleep. Madeline has figured out that the world is best when put in her mouth, and this week mastered crawling. This month has also marked Madeline’s introduction to solid food, and our excited creation of her first tiny meals. Her hands down favorite flavor combination is beet watermelon puree, with Paul’s Massaman curry a close second. Her least favorite; her papa’s attempt at a spicy potato leek soup. As people who love to cook, it has been thrilling to see Madeline’s world expand with every taste. Dorky new parents that we are, we both sit with rapt attention for each new bite: there’s a squint of her eyes, a slight cock of the head, and a furloughed brow, her tongue slowly rolling the new flavor around her mouth…and the moment of decision: food, or not-food. Luckily for us, Madeline has all but once given our weird concoctions the benefit of the doubt. To the joy of first tastes.
Black Pepper & Lime Caesar Salad
My mother and sister flew to Haiti last week, the final visit in an amazing month of family guests. First Madeline's uncle arrived on a spur of the moment 48-hour trip to cuddle his new niece. Next to arrive was her grandpa and grandma, traveling to Haiti from Indiana, narrowly avoiding a political protest near the airport on the day of their arrival. Madeline's omi and opi from Canada made it in time to see her first smiles, and last week she met her aunt from Pittsburgh for the first time. It has been an incredible expression of love and support from both of our families as they trekked to Haiti, schlepping our many bags along with them. Each time, as I passed our little daughter over to her newly arrived family member, it was a moving experience. Perhaps it's the postpartum hormones... but there was just something about the contrast of having moved to a new place without family, and then watching the faces of our parents and siblings as they held our daughter for the first time that put a lump in my throat. So how does this all relate to this most excellent black pepper lime caesar salad recipe you might ask? My family is nuts for caesar salad. So as I paced the house waiting for my mother and sisters' delayed flight last week, I made my new favorite variation with black pepper and lime. I perfected this version over the last few months while pregnant and unable to eat the classic caesar dressing with raw eggs. I discovered mayonnaise to be a creamy and delicious substitute and swapped out the traditional lemon in favor of local key limes. This is an addictive dressing, so I recommend just going ahead and doubling it the first time.
Food and Thoughts of 2016
We catapulted into 2016 in a new country, jobs, and language. Learning Haitian Creole together had moments of both frustration and hilarity. We practiced our new vocabulary at the maternity clinic, when two months after we arrived in Haiti, we became parents! Paul reflected about becoming a father to a daughter, pondering some of the global challenges that girls and women face. Madeline could not have a bigger ally in her proud papa. This year, our first as parents, we have felt deep gratitude and joy for our little daughter. Along the way we also started trying our hand at Haitian cooking, learning to make some of the iconic sweet, savory & spicy dishes we had learned to love. And through it all, our little baby kept growing, and so did we...
First Days in Haiti
Our first taste of Haiti has been sweet. We have had a warm and supportive welcome, with friendly, generous co-workers, delicious home cooked meals, many helping hands to get us set up for prenatal care, and mountains of patience from everyone around us as we make our first faltering attempts at speaking Creole. We have been loving our first meals in Haiti. A favorite, today's lunch, was a rich and savory pumpkin soup, called Soup Joumou; a justifiably famous dish often served for Haitian Independence and New Years Day. We will be staying in the guesthouse above our office (pictured above) for a few more days until we head to the countryside, north of the capital in Desarmes, for a three week homestay; an immersive experience that will help to jumpstart our Creole and introduce us to rural life in Haiti.
Stay tuned over the next several weeks as we share some delicious recipes we prepared before we left the US.
Third Trimester, Malaria Fevers, & The Ocean
We're back from a relaxing Christmas in Jacmel, a historic town famous for its artists on Haiti's southern coast. It was a chance to get away and unwind after what has been a fairly uncomfortable third trimester for me, with pretty non-stop nausea and vomiting (sadly, a reprise of my 1st trimester). Thankfully, our little baby is resilient and has been doing well through it all, and we are just a few weeks away from meeting him/her. Paul has been an incredible support through my many nauseous mornings, afternoons and evenings, but it turns out that I didn't have the market cornered on stomach issues. Paul ended up driving the winding mountain roads from Port-au-Prince to Jacmel in the midst of malaria fevers and chills, interspersed with rounds of vomiting. After four hours driving stick with steep hairpin turns, I've never seen Paul so happy to get out of a car. Our first taste of salty ocean breezes and fresh seafood seemed to have done us well. Once we were feeling better, we perused Jacmel's famous paper mache artists, took in the historic architecture, and went swimming in the ocean. Below are a few pictures from our trip to share the flavor of the place.
We have a daughter! It’s a surreal thing to say. We are blissfully happy to share that after weeks of on-and-off contractions and gestation in three countries, our beautiful baby girl, Madeline, was born at 1 am yesterday in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, weighing in at a healthy 7 pounds. Madeline is a lively little newborn, and both she and Rebecca are doing well. It’s hard to put words to the feeling of being parents for just a few short hours; joy, relief, shock and happiness. We have been finding ourselves bursting into giddy (exhausted) laughter quite a bit since little Madeline arrived. We will be taking the next month off from work to get to know our new daughter, and look forward to introducing her to her family (even if virtually in many cases), with her first introduction to both sets of grandparents when they arrive in Haiti in just a few weeks!