Arts

Community Spotlight: Haitian business owners show resilience in Malden

By Jack Drees The Haitian community in Malden has a heritage rich in tradition, art, and food and a culture built on resiliency and determination.    Massachusetts now has the third highest concentration of Haitian-born immigrants in the United States, after Florida and New York. Of the 86,000 Haitians in Massachusetts, most live in Malden, Somerville, Boston, Randolph and Brockton. This city is home to many Haitian-owned businesses, ranging from restaurants to retail to cultural expression. These are the stories of three of them. “THE ISLAND” RESTAURANT: CHANTAL QUESSA Chantal Quessa, the owner of The Island. Photo by Jack Drees Malden is not just home to one of the larger Haitian populations in Massachusetts, but to various Caribbean restaurants,  including The Island, located on 118 Ferry St. Opened in April 2018 by Chantal Quessa, this restaurant calls itself “A paradise for everyone!”. “Everyone” refers to those in Malden, Massachusetts, her family and others. The front exterior of The Island, located on Ferry Street. Photo by Jack Drees Quessa’s passion for cooking started when she became a […]

Education

Why do Haitians eat squash soup on New Year’s Day?

By Jack Drees The New Year is celebrated by a series of traditions in the United States and around the world. For some, it’s a lively party on New Year’s Eve. For others, it’s the Times Square Ball Drop. For Massachusetts, it’s fireworks over the Boston Harbor. Haitians celebrate the New Year by enjoying a special soup. It is one of the first dishes they eat in the calendar year, and a tradition that reminds them of the liberation they have achieved. Haitians gained independence on January 1, 1804 after a 13-year revolution against France. Their independence arrived after the only successful slave revolt in history. Haiti became the second independent nation in the Americas and the first in Latin America. Yearly, in honor of the country’s freedom, the nation’s people and those with Haitian roots enjoy Soup Joumou, or squash soup. During France’s colonization of Haiti, Soup Joumou was often eaten by colonial masters and plantation owners. In many cases, this dish was prepared for these higher-class individuals by the slaves. While the masters […]