Almost 3 years since Haiti’s earthquake  (January 12th, 2010). For me it was one of the most terrifying experiences, if not the only one.

3 years since I’ve set foot in my homeland. It’s the longest I’ve ever been away.

Yesterday, my boyfriend and I were laying down next to each other. I was telling him how his mother insisted that I tried some of her LAKAY food. Duri blan, Pwa Kongo ak bannan peze dous. If you come from a Haitian family/background, you know that once the granmounns (parents/older people) offer you food, it is offensive to refuse. The minute that food touches your plate, there’s nothing that you can do. It must all go!

And for some reason, him and I,  we started talking about all of those delicacies from LAKAY. The biskwit sek (butter biscuit),  pen rale (bread), bib, bouyon tet kabrit (goat-head-soup) – Don’t be scared, it’s actually really good!- .
Somehow, all of these foods were associated with some childhood memories or places we’ve visited (an deyo). It occurred to me that I’ve spent more than 6 years in New York eating all sorts of food (thai, indian , japanese, european, american etc.) , to the point of even cooking them from scratch, but I have never really cooked a Haitian dish other than just duri kole (rice and beans).

When I was leaving for NY in 2006 , my mom handed me a book. She said that as long as I had this book, she would worry a little bit less about me. I must mention that, for Haitian parents, if you can’t cook any Haitian dish, you cannot survive. I thought she was hysterically crazy! (pardon the pleonasm) .  The title of this book is “ MANJE LAKAY, Reset Natif Natal”   ( Food from home. Native Recipes) . You might want to get it. It holds some very interesting recipes from ” Croquette d’ ignames”  (yam croquettes) to lambi pane (conch) .  Recipes I never thought even existed!

While my boyfriend was mumbling a few words about  some fresh vyann kabrit (goat meat) that he had, I remembered that book. That book that stayed in my drawer for the past 6 years. I haven’t even touched it.

Then, came this idea. I looooooooooooooove cooking! Baking even more! Why not start this blog?
Why not expose the beautiful recipes of my homeland.
So there it is; this is my new challenge.
I will regularly post about my experiences with  the recipes (some from me) of Haitian dishes and drinks. NOT JUST THE FAMOUS ONES.
And while I’m cooking, you will learn about the origin of some of these ingredients (that’s where the granmounns will come in handy)
Maybe you can try some at home!
MANGEONS LAKAY!!!! (Let’s eat native)

So , I would like to give credit to those who made the publishing of this book possible since I have yet to find the name of the author in the book :-/

  • Ministere de L’ Agriculture (MARNDR)
  • Ministere des Affaire Sociales (MAS)
  • Ministere de la Sante Publique (MSPP)
  • Ministere de la Condition Feminine et des Droits de la Femme
  • Ministere de l’ Environment
  • Secretairerie d’ Etat au Tourisme
  • Organisation des Nations Unies pour l’ Alimentation et l’ Agriculture (FAO)


Published by Nathalie JB

Bonjou! My name is Nathalie Jean-Baptiste. Yes! I know, my last name doesn’t get any more Haitian than that! Who am I really? I consider myself a renaissance woman. I looooooove learning new skills in any field possible: Culinary, baking, painting, crafting, designing, writing, knitting, sewing. You name it! I often joke while saying “ I’m a tout bagay”. Which literally translates to “I’m everything”. Most say I'd make a great surgeon due to the agility in my hands. Sure, I can manage any tasks requiring detail and precision. It drives my audacity to venture in the kitchen with absolutely no experience. What better motivation than to share my culinary journey with you? To help you get better at things you probably thought you couldn't do. At least, that was my drive! I guess by now, you’ve already figured out that I'm the cook and photographer behind “Pilon lakay”. This blog started 8 years ago as I realized that I knew absolutely nothing about Haitian cuisine. Back home, I was never taught how to cook nor was I ever interested in being in the kitchen unless it involved baking. Instead, I loved preparing cakes and cookies. (Shhhh! I still do). After a couple of years in the US, like most of us immigrants, I missed food from home. The good stuff, you know! So I decided to take matters into my own hands and make of this a personal exploration of Haitian food. Boy what a journey it has been! While cooking up a storm in the kitchen, I wanted to encourage others like me to actually learn and explore Haiti’s gastronomy. I made sure my instructions were personal and beginner friendly. My recipe directions contain a lot more details than any other regular recipes. With a personal touch, it's a depiction of my thought process when I do these many tasks. I'm sure you can cook anything on here! If I can do it, you can too! Come experience Haiti through your taste buds! Meet you in the kitchen! Love, N.

12 thoughts on “” MANJE LAKAY”

  1. Ahhhhhh!! Go Nath! Go Nath!!

    In all seriousness, I definitely understand what you are saying. My mother gave me not one but TWO Haitian cookbooks. She inquires about them every other months! Yet, I have not layer eyes on them since I put them in a box 6 years ago when I arrived in the US for college. I’ve always wanted to try making some of these recipes… maybe I’ll start this challenge with you. What a great idea!

    I’m wishing you the best of lucks on your cooking adventure. I’ll be pleased to read about it all, and maybe learn from it. Perhaps I will be inspired to finally explore the cooking world. Perhaps not. Who knows.

  2. This is quite inspiring. I’ll definitely be checking back on here and possibly try making some of those myself.
    I’ve been debating about starting a blog too. Fashion related of course. Lol any advice? I’m so nervous!

  3. Hi Nathalie,

    So proud to read your text. Keep doing it like this. Really like food (good food n Haitian women have the secrets) so will follow You!

  4. They gave me a cooking book too 6years ago when i was moving to Louisiana, i dont like to cook but i love and enjoy good food. So keep it up Nathouthou and good luck, muah 🙂

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