Recipe: Mark and Talia Kurlansky Haitian Griyo de Porc

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Until the 1980s, pork was the common meat of Haiti. The so called “Creole pig” was small and black and lived off the land, foraging for food. Haitian peasants could let them grow and only slaughter them when they needed the money, so they were a kind of living savings account that required little investment. Then it was discovered in 1978 that some of these Creole pigs carried Asian Swine Flu, a highly contagious disease dangerous to livestock. There have been similar outbreaks in other Caribbean countries. When Cuba experienced such an outbreak, the infected pigs were quarantined and the pig population was saved. But in Haiti, the US Agency for International Development, USAID, decided that the Haitian outbreak was a threat to livestock in the Caribbean and the US—and undertook a program to kill 380,000 Creole pigs and replace them with big fat American pigs. The problem was that these larger pigs truly earned the name pig: they ate an enormous amount of food. To Americans, they were a superior animal because they converted food into meat at a far better rate than the meager Creole pig. But that assumes you can afford to keep a piggier pig. In the Haitian rumor mill, the incident is often cited as a plot by the Americans to destroy the Haitian peasant, but in international-development circles it is often cited as an example of why aid to poor countries often fails: a lack of knowledge about local conditions.

1 pound pork shoulder, cubed

juice of 2 sour oranges, or juice of

3 limes and 1/2 sweet orange (see Mexico Night, p. 72)

3 slices of white onion, rings separated

3 garlic cloves, peeled and minced

1/2 cup peanut oil

a large pinch of salt

3 turns of black pepper

4 sprigs of fresh thyme


Place the cubed pork shoulder in a bowl with the citrus juice. Add the onion, garlic, peanut oil, salt, black pepper, and thyme. Marinate meat for at least 5 hours.

Roast the meat in the marinade for 2 hours at about 350 degrees. Remove meat from juice and fry in hot peanut oil while cooking down the roast juices in a skillet. Pour the sauce over the meat.