Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Learning in the Joujou

It is no secret that the artic blast, Polar Vortex, frigid temperatures have landed many of us inside for an extention of the holiday break.

My family is smack dab in the middle of the country, in the St. Louis region, the place where just last week it was like spring.

Changes all around.

And cold hungry people.

Joujou is a traditional soup made on Haitian Independence Day to celebrate freedom from the oppressive French regime that enslaved the island.  The first slave revolt happened in this island nation and I'm proud that my heritage began in the Caribbean.

That said, this year was my first time making it by myself.

I pulled on the warm clothes and headed to the store on New Year's Day, with my college son as my escort, to grab the ingredients needed.  We had spent the night before fellowshipping at my sister-in-law's mansion and a trip to the store was on no one's mind when we made it home past 3am.

We gathered together the fresh ingredients, carefully selecting the right squash, thinking how many hours I had left in the day to make it legitimate.

When we came home, I immediately started the peeling, chopping, slicing, and dicing necessary for this labor intensive soup.

There were some lessons I learned in it and in the week since I made it.


  • Love, life, like good soup, takes the right set of ingredients.  
  • There is some labor involved to make that final perfect bowl, just like things we want to achieve.
  • Second day soup is even sweeter with the memories of the love that made it.
  • Fresher is always better, like giving oneself time to come up with fresh ideas for an old product
  • Vegetables are always good for you, fresher are even better, just makes the heart stand up and sing
  • Making something with one's hands always results in the appreciation of at least one person
  • Celebrating one's accomplishments, one's jubilee, is always in order, cold or no cold
  • Life is worth living, fully and completely, and without stress, just warmth of a good bowl of soup



My kids will go back-to-school tomorrow and life in 2014 will essentially start, holiday officially over.

I'm not sure what the new year will fully bring my way, but I know that in the patience it took to make joujou, and then to make homemade soup two more times during the cold freeze, I've learned that I am more than ready to take on the challenge.

I can only hope the same for all of you!

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