December 2, 2013
Local cuisine: Mayi (my-ee)—a Haitian nourishing commodity
We are pleased to share information about Haitian cuisine. This time, we will talk about mayimoulen – the Creole name for a dish made from cornmeal, a traditional food found throughout the country.
Known for its excellent cuisine, this Haitian food is a mixture of local native flair – a combination of local ingredients and spices. It tastes great and is economical, easy to cook and fast to prepare. Maybe that’s one reason people choose mayimoulen at mealtimes. There is a popular belief that eating cornmeal makes people stronger than eating rice. Whatever the case, cornmeal is a highly nourishing food and an excellent source of fiber, protein, iron and vitamins such as A, B1, B2 and folic acid.
There are multiple ways to eat and cook cornmeal. At breakfast, it’s eaten plain as hot cereal, or as Akasan (AK100), a sweet-tasting, cornmeal-based nutritional supplement drink. At lunch and dinner, it is often cooked with beans and served with a vegetable stew. For dessert, one can enjoy cornmeal cake.
Corn or maize was originally introduced to the island of Haiti by the native Taino Indians. It is the principal economic crop, with the greatest yield reaped during the rainy season. Corn is easy to grow in both the mountains and the plains with multiple harvests possible each year. It stores well, making it readily available all year round at a low cost.
Traditionally, a good harvest is celebrated by villagers on May 1, the national Labor and Agricultural Day. This is when community fairs display farm produce to promote local foods. On this day, cornmeal is almost always served in Haitian households to celebrate the season’s bounty. I personally believe maïs-moulu tastes best all by itself.