One of the specialties we enjoy here in Haiti that is not commonly found in the United States is breadfruit. To the Haitian, it’s “Lam Veritab.” As shown in this picture, it’s served with a helping of hamburger sauce on the side. Breadfruit is one of Haiti’s staples and is “très délicieux!” In fact, this is one of mine and Prit’s favorite meals at home. Although it looks like a vegetable and has no resemblance whatsoever to fruit, it is more starchy and has a distinct flavor akin to a potato, yet with a taste uniquely its own. Often breadfruit, yams, and plantains are served with a meat sauce (if one has enough money to buy the meat) instead of the white rice that is sold in the marché (public market). Breadfruit is actually much more nutritious than rice, and is loaded with vitamins and nutrients.
There is an interesting history behind this plant. Breadfruit did not originate in Haiti. According to the Haitian version, Henri Christophe (the king of the north of Haiti during the early 1800’s) dispatched his servants to the Pacific islands to search for and transplant this staple to Haiti. After several unsuccessful attempts, the servants (who had never seen breadfruit before), finally returned with the actual plant that Christophe was seeking. After such a long wait, the story goes that King Christophe exclaimed in French, “C’est L’Arbre Véritable!” (“This is the true tree!”) Under his reign, breadfruit was planted abundantly in the land of Haiti and is one of the most plentiful foods available there. In the course of time, the name “L’Arbre Véritable” gradually descended into the Creole rendering of “Lam Veritab.” “Lam” means “soul” in Creole. The digression from the “true tree” to the “true soul” only proves how the variants of language can alter meanings over time.
In spite of the true sense of the word being lost over the centuries, this unique food remains the same. I suppose it could even be referred to as one of the Haitians’ “soul foods.” It is very tasty and we invite you to join us here in Haiti for a meal of “lam veritab!”