Why Empty Plate?

Long ago, my mom would ship my little sister and I off to my grandparents house in Brooklyn to spend a couple of weeks of “quality time” with them. I am first-generation Haitian, so this meant multiple weeks of very strict rules in a house with no cable tv, no friends to play with, AND lots of delicious homemade food cooked by my grandmother Madeleine.

Anytime we were served food, be it a bowl of cereal, a sandwich for lunch, or the most elaborate Haitian dish of legume (stewed vegetables with meat) and rice, we knew it was time to dig in when Grandma would say the words “I want to see your plate empty!”. (This phrase was also used a “gentle” nudge if we didn’t finish our food in a timely matter)

I look back on those days of Grandma pushing us to eat and recognize that it was her way of communicating love to those around her. On the flip side – an empty dish communicated a clear sign of respect for the food and the hands that made the meal.

Grandma – I hope this blog does your hard work of nourishing us with sustenance and love some sort of justice!

haitian flag


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