Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Dirt Cookies

From "No More Dirt Cookies" by Lima

Dirt Cookies have become almost a staple in the lives of the Haitian poor in this the Year of Our Lord 2008. Men, women and children, reduced to abject poverty in this poorest of all Western Hemisphere countries, try to stay alive on whatever they can find to eat . Americans are appalled by the nightly television pictures of emaciated Haitians dragging themselves through the day and constantly hunting for sustenance. We thought that perhaps the worst degradation had already been seen when we watched children on a mission against starvation picking their way through heaps of refuse with the hopes of salvaging some bit of nourishment. But in fact the at least some Haitians have been degraded even further in their attempts to survive reduced to eating dirt cookies .

A Recipe Not Found at the Bake-Off: If you took the time to look up "dirt cookies" on line you might be surprised at what you would find. It seems there are a number of recipes all including the word "dirt" in the title. You can find a recipe for "dirt cookies", "dirt cake", even "dirt pudding" . And in each recipe the main ingredient used to simulate the dirt element is happily crushed "Oreo Cookies". These "dirt" recipes are so tasty and have that quirky word "dirt" in them which delights kids making such recipes party and dessert favorites. Sadly these "dirt" recipes have exactly nothing to do with the "dirt cookies" being consumed by Haitians today. Their recipe involves combining a little ( very little) amount of cooking oil and a dash of salt with, that's right , dirt.

Oh its special dirt to be sure, the kind that is brought in by loads from the central plateau of this tiny nation. It is yellowish in color and before it is mixed with the other ingredients the dirt is screened to remove unwanted lumps and pebbles. After mixing and forming the round shaped "cookies" they are often place on house roofs to dry in the sun. The result of this effort is "dirt cookies". It is this barely edible commodity that is being sold and consumed in Haiti in the absence of nutritious food. For some Dirt Cookies are making up for missing meals. Children find some satisfaction in being able to consume something and have a feeling of fullness in their stomachs. While they are generally lacking in any type of nutritional value for the time being they give form to the concept "better than nothing". How much better than nothing of course remains open to serious question.

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"If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be." Thomas Jefferson

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