Flik Independent School Dining’s Haitian rice dish enlightens at Princeton Day School
By Tara Fitzpatrick
Haitian black mushroom rice, known as diri ak djon djon, weaves an interesting story with its flavors and ingredients, revealing a common thread with the ability to connect people and cultures around the world. This dish was served at a FLIK Independent Dining K-12 account, Princeton Day School, as part of Black History Month programming.
This menu item represents more than just one month of celebration; it was an introduction to FLIK's newly formed Entrepreneurial Council, a group focused on investing in the career cycle of Black employees. The group plans to examine recruiting, hiring, compensation, training, and development practices.
“We focused on food as a way to learn history because it provided us the perfect entry point for establishing common ground—since everyone eats—before branching out into what food teaches us about who we are and where we come from,” according to a statement from the Entrepreneurial Council
For those unfamiliar with diri ak djon djon, the black mushroom infuses color and flavor into the rice. The dried mushrooms (the djon djon) used aren’t traditionally used in everyday cooking, so there’s a bit of celebration baked into this dish. Plus, the addition of ground clove lends it a flavor that lets you know this is no boring rice pilaf. Onions, fresh thyme, parsley, scallions and garlic blend into the heat of a whole Scotch bonnet pepper for a dish capable of reinforcing historical memory and waking up the taste buds at the same time.
FLIK has been using other rice dishes as jumping-off points for learning about different cultures, including Low Country Charleston red rice, cooked in bacon drippings and tomato paste; the stew-like jollof rice from West Africa and waakye rice and beans, a street food from Ghana.
And as the months go on, the Entrepreneurial Council will continue its mission.
“Going forward, we will be leaning on our hospitality spirit to ensure FLIK is a force for good in every community we serve—and especially for our internal customers within our own ranks,” according to the statement.
This article originally appeared in Food Management on March 12, 2021.
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