MARCH 24th, The FOURTEENTH Day of GARIFUNA American Heritage Month in New York (Garifuna Food-HUDUTU)

Staple Garifuna Food, Hudutu.  Photo courtesy of Saveur Magazine.

Staple Garifuna Food, Hudutu. Photo courtesy of Saveur Magazine.

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Central America, United States of America — MARCH 24th is the FOURTEENTH Day of GARIFUNA American Heritage Month in New York.  Did you know that the Garifuna people have a series of foods unique to the culture? Sure, some of the foods are also made and enjoyed by other cultures and ethnicities, but Garifunas have a particular twist on some of these foods that transform them into delicacies unlike any other. This posting will focus on a staple food of the Garifuna people, that is, Hudutu (“Mashed Plaintains” in the Garifuna Language). –

Garifuna Woman Mrs. Teldy Casildo mashing plantains.  Photo courtesy of Mrs. Casildo via Facebook.

Garifuna Woman Mrs. Teldy Casildo mashing plantains. Photo courtesy of Mrs. Casildo via Facebook.

In November of 2012, popular food magazine, SAVEUR Magazine published an article on Garifuna food.  Titled “Cassava Nation”, Editor Betsy Andrews wrote the most comprehensive article yet on Garifuna cuisine.   1

Garifuna family watching plantains being mashed in the independent film, GARIFUNA IN PERIL.  Photo courtesy of Aban Productions.

Garifuna family watching plantains being mashed in the independent film, GARIFUNA IN PERIL. Photo courtesy of Aban Productions.

In the Cassava Nation SAVEUR Magazine story on Garifuna food, Betsy Andrews wrote about many Garifuna foods and included recipes as well.  For me, it was a treat learning the Garifuna names of these foods.  I knew the Spanish names for some, but not the Garifuna names.  For example, the Spanish translation of hudutu is machuca (from the word, machucar which is a Spanish verb, meaning mash).  2

Hudutu on the right, served with fish soup laced with cilantro and coconut milk.  Photo from picasaweb.google.com

Hudutu on the right, served with fish soup laced with cilantro and coconut milk. Photo from picasaweb.google.com

Similar to African fufu, hudutu are mashed plantains often served with a cilantro and coconut milk-laced stew and eaten with fish.  Below is a SAVEUR Magazine video demonstrating how the stew and hudutu is made.  It stars Teofila Mauricio Valerio, a Garifuna Woman from Triunfo de la Cruz, Tela, Atlantida, Honduras. The video is in Spanish with English subtitles.

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In the video you see the mortar (“hana” in the Garifuna Language) that the plaintains are mashed in, as well as the hanoudua / hanawera / ourua / hanouduru (“mortar stick” in the Garifuna Language) used to mash the plantains.

Click on the link to read the interview with the writer of this article on GARIFUNA FOOD for Saveur Magazine, Miss BETSY ANDREWS.

Still from Garifuna In Peril Film as Garifuna family watches plantains being mashed, making Hudutu.

Still from Garifuna In Peril Film as Garifuna family watches plantains being mashed, making Hudutu.

ABOUT The Garifuna People

The Garifuna people are people of African descent (in other words, Black people) whose ancestry can be traced to Africans mixing with Carib Indians and Arawak Indians on the Eastern Caribbean island of St. Vincent. From this fusion of race and ethnicities in St. Vincent Island, a distinct culture and language arose.  They are noted for being one of the few (only?) peoples of African descent (again, in other words, Black people) in the Americas to have maintained aspects of their ancestral culture and full use of their ancestral language for everyday use over the course of hundreds of years.

After being defeated in war with the British on St. Vincent in 1796; 1004 men, 1779 women and 1,555 children for a total of 4,338 people (mostly Black Caribs, as the Garifuna people were then known) were captured and taken to Baliceaux, a small island, a rock, basically, off the coast of St. Vincent.  This took place from July 1796 through February/March 1797.  About 2,000 Garifunas died of a mysterious and very infectious fever while living on Baliceaux awaiting their fate.  3

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In early March 1797, the remaining Garifunas were loaded onto the HMS Experiment and other ships.  Once they were rounded up, the convoy were taken to a Bequia, which is another island off the coast of St. Vincent. They proceeded to go to Grenada to get water, then Jamaica for refueling, then finally Roatan, Honduras, arriving on April 12th 1797.

Finding much of Roatan unliveable, the Garifuna people petitioned officials representing Spain and it’s government (which controlled much of Central America at the time) to be allowed to move to the Honduran mainland.  Upon being allowed to move to the Honduran mainland, namely the port town of Trujillo, Honduras in May 1797; the Garifunas settled many towns and villages along the Caribbean coast of Honduras.  They also migrated to the neighboring countries of Guatemala, Belize (then known as British Honduras) and Nicaragua over the years.  Finally, Garifuna People have also migrated to the United States of America where generations have settled in cities like New York City, Chicago and Los Angeles.  Despite their mainly Spanish surnames, their culture and history are distinct from other Afro-American and Latino ethnic groups and it’s important to keep that in mind.

Logo for 2014 Garifuna American Heritage Month.  Logo by Ivan Moreira.

Logo for 2014 Garifuna American Heritage Month. Logo by Ivan Moreira.

About Garifuna American Heritage Month in New York

Garifuna American Heritage Month in New York (March 11th through April 12th) is designed to reflect on and observe the occasion of the Garifuna people (then known as Black Caribs) being kicked out of their ancestral land of St. Vincent Island on March 11th 1797 to their arrival in Central America on April 12th 1797.  The dates reference the period of time where the Garifuna voyage took place between their ancestral land and their new place of residence, where a new life was forced upon them.

According to a press release from the non-profit organization the Garifuna Coalition USA Inc, Garifuna American Heritage Month in New York also,

“celebrates the great contributions of Garífuna-Americans to the fabric of New York City and New York State, and pays tribute to the common culture and bonds of friendship that unite the United States and the Garífuna’s countries of origin (Belize, Guatemala, Honduras Nicaragua and St Vincent and the Grenadines.)”.

The Garifuna Coalition adds, “New York City is home to the largest Garífuna Community outside of Central America!  However, although Garífunas have been migrating here in search of a better life since the 1930s; the community was virtually obscured until the Happy Land Social Club fire on March 25th, 1990.”  Most of the victims of that tragedy were Honduran, many were of Garifuna descent 4.

Overall, the idea is to pay tribute to the survival and resiliency of the Garifuna people and also highlight the contributions made by Garifunas to the state of New York and the United States of America.  Also, this as well as other activities taking place in New York during Garifuna American Heritage Month in New York are designed to further visibility of the Garifuna ethnic group to the general populace of New York City.

If you find the BEING GARIFUNA Website helpful and useful, please DONATE.  Every dollar donated helps keep this website in operation.  Donations are accepted via the PAYPAL website so your potential donations are SAFE and SECURE.

 

Notes:

  1. Betsy Andrews “Cassava Nation: For The Garifuna People of Coastal Honduras, Coming Together to Cook The Foods of Their Ancestors Provides a Sense of Identity and Continuity That Transcends Borders” SAVEUR Magazine, (November 2012).
  2. http://www.saveur.com/article/Travels/Honduras-Coast-Garifuna
  3. Nancie L Gonzalez, “Sojourners of The Caribbean: Ethnogenesis and Ethnohistory of the Garifuna” pgs 21-23
  4. Edna Negron, “Club Tragedy an Awakening for Garifuna”, New York Newsday, Sunday, August 18th 1991.

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