The Real Haiti: Recipes and a History Lesson

By Margo Gabriel

A Chef and Recipe Developer on a quest for showcasing the true essence of Haitian food and culture

Elsy Dinvil’s beautifully written cookbook, Cooking with my Mother, shares with readers her deep pride for her heritage, her love of cooking and more importantly her commitment to honoring her late mother. The Portland, Oregon-based chef and recipe developer hosts pop-ups and courses which attracts scores of eager Portland residents where they learn about Haitian cuisine.

Photo credit: Creole Cravings

Reshaping the narrative of Haiti

Despite Dinvil’s encounters with blatant prejudice in her career, she has used her culinary talent and platform to shine a light on the beauty that is Haiti and its rich food culture rooted in flavor and the desire to create joy and community whenever Haitians gather together.

Dinvil’s work is part cookbook, part cultural work of an anthropologist.

If the late Anthony Bourdain ever traveled to Haiti again, he’d no doubt seek out Dinvil’s expertise to take him on a tour of the very best Haiti has to offer. Dinvil’s love runs deep. As a child of the Haitian Diaspora, Dinvil, works hard to create a level of excellence that draws many eager foodies to her cooking classes in Portland, Oregon.

A Different Haiti

Dinvil paints a picture of a different Haiti, one that is captivating, joyous, filled with delicious food, amazing music and a deep sense of camaraderie that is intimately known by all from the Diaspora, near and far.

Dinvil’s work helps to reshape our view of Haiti and captures the true “essence” of the island-nation that is the first successful Black republic that gained independence in 1804. This is the Haiti that Dinvil sees every time she creates a recipe or hosts a cooking class. Her work helps to break down barriers physically and metaphorically. “Depi tanbou frapé, tout moun levé dansé”* that’s the Haiti Dinvil helps each of us to see.

*Haitian proverb meaning, ‘As soon as the music starts, everyone starts dancing,’ which signifies one’s struggles does not define their happiness.

Find out more information about Chef Dinvil’s work at Creole Cravings; where you can also order her cookbook, Cooking with my Mother.

Freelance writer based in Lisbon, Portugal. www.margoscreativelife.com Bylines: Cuisine Noir, Edible Boston, Fodor’s Travel, Solstice Literary Magazine.

Freelance writer based in Lisbon, Portugal. www.margoscreativelife.com Bylines: Cuisine Noir, Edible Boston, Fodor’s Travel, Solstice Literary Magazine.