One Soup Can Change The World: History of Joumou

Photo courtesy of Epicurious.com

Photo courtesy of Epicurious.com

Every New Years Day, Haitian descendants worldwide celebrate the independence of Haiti declared on January 1, 1804. Haitians take great pride in being the first black republic in the world and we'll never let anyone forget it. I mean, who else conquered three world superpowers (England, France and Spain)? 214 years later, Haitians have probably flooded your timelines with bowls filled with the yellow liquid gold also known as Soup Joumou or Squash Soup. But what's the big deal about a bowl of soup?

A bit of History...

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On August 14, 1791, the iconic Haitian Revolution began with a Vodou ceremony at a site called Bois Caiman. This ceremony, led by a Jamaican born slave named Dutty Boukman included a Vodou spirit taking over the body of Cecile Fatiman (women always have to hold it down) and the blood sacrifice of a pig. On August 22, 1791, 1000 enslaved Africans attacked their masters by poisoning, stabbing and brutally beating them to death.

When Napolean Bonaparte rose to power in France in 1798, he worked deligently to destroy the revolutionary culture in Saint Domingue (later to be called Haiti). Bonaporte teamed with Thomas Jefferson to reinstate slavery by sending the largest French expedition ever assembled to enter the Saint Domingue harbor in 1802. The slaves fought the French for 3 months until May 6, 1802 when Toussaint Louveture, (the self proclaimed leader of the Haitian Revolution) surrendered to the French army. Soon after, news from Guadeloupe traveled to slaves in Saint Domingue of the French's attempt to reinstate slavery. Slaves in Saint Domingue had enough and slaughtered 50,000 french soldiers under the rule of Jean-Jacques Dessalines. The ex-slaves outnubered their rivals 10 to 1. On January 1, 1804 Jean-Jacques Dessaline declared Haiti a free nation and sealed the deal by murdering every white Frenchman left on the island. Once Haiti was declared free, Napoleon gave up his ambitions of expanding his empire into the Americas, bringing forth the Louisinana Purchase which granted the US land which total up to 15 states that make up the Mid West.

Where's the Soup come in?

Marie Claire Heureuse, the wife of Jean-Jacques Dessalines, began the tradition of eating Soup Joumou on January 1st every year. Slaves were never allowed to eat this soup so today, and every New Years Day, Haitians everyhere honor our independence by indulging in this tasty dish. Soup Joumou, also called "Freedom Soup" is a dish held to the highest regard, and many households bring their biggest pots out to cook this thick, dense soup. Filled with pasta, beef, turkey, potatoes, vegetables, and squash, this soup is the business! With this soup we celebrate the freedom, resilience, strength, and spirituality of our ancestors. 

Haitian history is world history. Find you a Haitian friend to celebrate with and have you a bowl!

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