Monday, February 16, 2009

Shiver and Shake

We were walking along the north side of Champs de Mars, the big park in the center of Port-au-Prince in Haiti, around the presidential palace. It's also where everything happens, where the life is. Bikers, Roller Bladers, concerts, salesmen, beggars and thieves all congregate in Champs de Mars. We came across a cart, the kind that pulls behind a vehicle, is usually brushed chrome and has a generator attached to run various things inside. In New York the most common appearance of such vehicles is in the morning when you're half awake, wandering between the subway and your office and you see such a cart and stop for coffee. If you're adventurous you might just add a bagel with cream cheese to it.

There were a bunch of guys inside, each running two blenders. A lot of people waiting, so it was clearly a popular spot. Into the blenders they first threw crushed ice, then mango pulp, then a ladle full of chopped vegetables - potatoes, sweet potatoes, not sure what else, then salt, and milk. They blended it up for a while, then took a ladle full of it and shook a bit onto their forearm and licked it off. Then add more of one or more of the ingredients and repeat. This would go on for quite some time before they appeared satisfied with the result.

When this happened they would pour it into a styrofoam cup. The man who took it would pick it up and gulp it down as fast as he possibly could and then put it back down, at which point the man in the cart would refill it. Thus, they essentially got two for one.

It was finally my turn so I took and carefully tasted it, not sure what to expect. I already knew it was thick and basically looked like a milkshake, but with the vegetables and salt in it I wasn't so sure. It was actually sweet, but not too sweet, with a twist to it that could only be tasted, not described. I don't generally like particularly milky things, but this was quite good. So I tried my hand at guzzling the shake, but couldn't quite handle it. Partly just not used to drinking that fast, especially something so thick, and partly I began to get brain freeze. I made it through about 2/3 before he started to get impatient. I held out my cup and he filled it to the top again, and we headed into the park to enjoy it with a Barikad Crew concert - a story for another day.

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