The key ingredient to today’s recipe is Edam Cheese or as we, Haitians know it to be, Fromage tête-de-maure.
Growing up only paying attention to the phonetics of that word, I really believed that it was spelled “Fromage tête de mort“, which literally means “dead person’s head”.
Edam/Holland Cheese from the Netherlands owes its French name to its dark brown color. The expression itself has a much more historical meaning which I decide not to go too far into. However, this is one example of how food is linked to history and culture.
“Inside every act of cooking lies a revolution–and a story about who we are”
–Cooked, Netflix Original
By the way, I highly recommend that show.↑
Edam Cheese landed in Haiti through the Spaniards’ colonization era due to its long lasting properties (it hardens easily and does not spoil at all) which were beneficial to long travels. There even were rumors of it being used as canon balls.
Fromage tête-de-maure is commonly known as the final ingredient for our macaroni grâtiné (Haitian baked mac and cheese).
Not everyone is aware of this appetizer that features in the title. It’s mostly served at important parties such as first communions, christenings etc. It was certainly one of my favorites. I haven’t had it ever since I left Haiti and this is my first time ever attempting to prepare it.
Caveat lector: I could not find any recipes for it so I decided to build it off from memory.
This appetizer is one of the easiest to prepare. It’s really all about throwing it all in one bowl, mixing it all up and putting it on the table.
It’s usually served as a dipping or as a spread in mini square sandwiches.
Quantity can be determined by eye-measure (The Haitian way)
- Fromage tête-de-maure (Edam Cheese/Holland Cheese)
- Butter (Allows for everything to stick together. Be moderate)
- Seasoning of your choice (Mine: garlic, parsley, Maggi, black pepper)
- Onions cut in dice
- Ground hot dog or ground meat of choice
- Chives or/and onions
- Grate the edam cheese.
- Add in your butter and mix very well
- Add your ground meat, your seasoning and your onions/chives cut into little pieces.
- Mix it all up and voilà
Told you it was easy!
Learn more about the history of Edam Cheese here