Labouyi Bannann: A Bit of Haitian Comfort

| January 15, 2010 | 0 Comments
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Labouyi BannannI don’t much feel like being clever today. My thoughts are 3,286 miles away in Port-au-Prince– a city I have yet to visit.

Perhaps it is the fact that I live in a city that has been devastated by earthquakes in the past and will be, undoubtably, devastated again that the one in Haiti has taken up so much of my attention. The thought of those people I love most in the world killed, or trapped alive by fallen concrete and steel is something I wonder if I would have the strength to bear.

Fortunately for us, we have strict earthquake-driven building codes. We have support and money and infrastructure– what little of that the people of Port-au-Prince had is destroyed or severely crippled.

Haitians need food, they need shelter, they need clothes, and they need medicine.

And, no matter what Mr. Limbaugh says, they need our sympathy and our money.

If you are interested in donating money to the cause of helping the victims of the Port-au-Prince earthquake I would recommend a quick visit to Charity Navigator. It can answer any questions/concerns you might have about text-driven donations, and assist in your decision as to which charity you might give.

Or check out KQED’s own Haiti Aid Resource Guide while you’re here.

If you want to donate money specifically toward food aid in Haiti The Atlantic has an article linking to food aid resources.

There is a growing number of local restaurants, musicians, book publishers, and whatnots joining the Haiti donating various percentages of their proceeds (in some cases 100%) to Haitian Relief. If you can stomach the exaggerated, offensive photo borrowed from The New York Post, you might actually find some good activities in which to engage over at Eater SF.

Labouyi Bannann

As I was baking off the bit of fun I had originally planned to share today, everything just felt wrong. As I stood in my kitchen, I realized that I had never given much thought to Haiti. Period. I knew nothing of their music, or culture, or food. All that had ever come to mind prior to yesterday were thoughts of slavery, revolution, poverty, and natural disaster. Never in my life had I had a single, happy thought about the place.

I wondered what the people of Haiti ate? There are few better ways of getting the feel of an unfamiliar place or culture than to eat their food. If I were Haitian, I’d want something nourishing and, above all, comforting.

And that’s where Labouyi Banann comes in.

It’s porridge, essentially– one made from ripe banana and unripe plantain. There are myriad ways to spell it, but only one way to eat it– with a spoon. Make that two ways to eat it– hot or cold. Either way, it’s a good way to start the day. Or end it, for that matter. The following recipe makes six to eight servings, so I will be breakfasting on it every morning and, while I do, I will be reading and watching and praying for things to get better (can these people please get a break once in a while?) in Haiti.

Ingredients

1 unripe (green) plantain

1 large or two small, ripe yellow bananas

2 cups water

1 can (12 oz.) of evaporated milk

1 can (12 oz.) of coconut milk (or 1 cup whole milk)

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

3 cinnamon sticks

2 whole star anise

A pinch of grated nutmeg

A heavy pinch of salt

½ light or dark brown sugar (white sugar will work, too)

½ teaspoon grated lime zest

More dark brown sugar and lime zest for garnish

Preparation:

1. In a blender, purée plantain, banana, and water until smooth.

2. Place purée into a medium sized, heavy-bottomed pot. Bring to a boil over low to medium heat.

3. Add evaporated and coconut milks, lime zest, sugar, star anise, nutmeg, salt, and cinnamon sticks. Bring again to a boil and reduce to a simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent any burning. The texture should less like oatmeal and more like Cream of Wheat. Turn off heat and stir in vanilla.

4. This can be eaten hot or cold. Garnish with a sprinkle of dark brown sugar and lime zest.

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I am terribly fond of martinis, Edward Gorey, and sleeping with many pillows. You are more than welcome to follow me on Twitter: @procopster