PORT-AU-PRINCE, HAITI- (CULTURE) The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) declared the Haitian “Soup Joumou” an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity at its 16th intergovernmental session on Thursday, December 16, 2021.
Ambassadors from UNESCO visited the Haitian representative office following the adoption of the “Soup Joumou” and sampled its delicious giraumon soup.
Audrey Azoulay, Director-General of UNESCO, said “We are proud of this inscription because it demonstrates recognition by the international community with respect to the Haitian heritage. The ‘Soup Joumou’ is intimately connected to the National Heroes and Heroines of Haiti’s Independence.”
The Haitian Ambassador to UNESCO said, “This historic moment was made possible through the collaboration of a large number of actors, including the Haitian National Commission for Cooperation with UNESCO and the Haitian Government.
“In addition, we are grateful to the students, professors, and researchers of the State University of Haiti who collected information about this element, to the associations and community groups that supported the candidature, to the photographers and videographers who contributed, to the experts who wrote and translated, and to the national and international media.
Long live the ‘Soup Joumou’!” Ms. Dominique Dupuy, Permanent Delegate Ambassador of Haiti to UNESCO said.
Ms. Muriel Berset Kohen, Ambassador of Switzerland said, “The fact that we have accepted the application for giraumon soup on our list does not come out of generosity because of the exceptional circumstances Haiti is experiencing, but rather it is due to the high quality of the dossier. We met the criteria, and that is something we must emphasize.
“Joumou soup is officially listed on the Representative List of the Intangible Heritage of UNESCO. Bravo ‘Soup Joumou’, bravo libète, bravo Haiti” Ministry of Culture.
“Soup joumou reminds us of the sacrifices our ancestors made to fight slavery and racism on earth, I welcome this news with great pride and emotion”, Claude Joseph, Former Prime Minister, Former Minister of Foreign Affairs said.
The announcement comes at a time when Haiti has been experiencing a series of crisis, following the assassination of President Jovenel Moise on July 7, 2021.
THE JOUMOU/ GIRAUMON SOUP:
Joumou, also known as giraumon, is a traditional Haitian pumpkin soup made with vegetables, plantains, meat, pasta, and spices. The dish is rooted deeply in Haitian tradition and promotes social cohesion and belonging among communities.
When Haiti gained independence from France, they claimed ownership of this soup, which became a symbol of their newfound freedom as well as an expression of their dignity and resilience.
As Haiti’s first meal of the year, it is prepared and eaten specifically on the first of January – Haiti’s Independence Day – when it is made from giraumon, a type of pumpkin used to be cultivated by indigenous peoples of the Caribbean. It also serves as a traditional Sunday breakfast.
Family and community members are involved in the preparation of Joumou soup.
Women handle the overall planning, children help prepare ingredients, artisans create the aluminum pots that are used to prepare the soup and farmers cultivate the vegetables.
Caribbean and Latin American cuisines offer multiple variations of the soup today.