March 6, 2024

A Recipe for Tear Gas Cake & a Day of Unrest in Haiti.


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A Day of Unrest in Haiti:

A cake is definitely in order for this rainy, dismal day. Fifty-eight degrees is quite uncommon for this Caribbean island, but then again nothing is normal here anyways.

The recipe calls for one egg, which is perfect because that’s all I have.

After three days of a riot-fueled lockdown, it is what it is. One thing I’ve learned the hard way is to make do with what’s on hand. It’s nothing complicated, just a question of logistics. At any given moment there could be a natural catastrophe, or political unrest, and well, if you weren’t prepared then you’ll have to just deal with it.

One egg, sugar, flour, oil, warm milk, a pinch of salt, vanilla, and baking powder. Simple.

Simplicity is what I need now in this moment.

In case you didn’t know it—life is short. I was brutally reminded of this earlier today when my housekeeper told me that a young boy who lived on the streets and was always hanging around my house was murdered. He was burned to death by thugs who wanted him to work for them as an informant. I’m devastated by the cruelty. He was just a young boy. There was probably no future for him. Their lives being in the streets are so short. But still, no one deserves to die that way.

No matter how much sorrow and horror I’ve witnessed, I haven’t become numb yet. I still cry.

I may not have become numb to the sadness yet, but as I’m whisking the one egg and the sugar, I realize I’ve actually become numb to the sound of gunshots.

Apparently, my neighbors have as well. The daily routine of closing windows and balcony doors and letting out the dogs at eventide goes on no matter what is happening.

Non-stop gunshots, impossible to tell if they are from the rioters or from the police. Honestly I’m more concerned about making this cake.

A dash of vanilla, a half cup of flour, baking powder, and I mix. I add the warm milk, the rest of the flour and oil, and I realize my nostrils are burning. Not the first time. Tear gas has been shot kilometers away yet finds its way to window. I grab some cut lemons, put them up to my nose and breathe in. They say it neutralizes the effects of mace; I think it works well too.

I grate the zest of a different lemon for the cake, why not? It’s a definite must for this very humble cake.

The dogs are sneezing, but they know the routine as well and go under the fan in my room and wait a while.

I cut out the parchment paper, line the pan, pour in the batter, and put it in my preheated oven to cook. Then I set the timer for 45 minutes and wait. It’s ready in 30.

We barely let it cool and slice through it. I have mine with some wild peach preserves from the mountains, my daughter chooses to have it with a cup of strong black coffee, and my mom with a splash of rum.

No one ever said that living here was for the faint of heart. And honestly I think I’ve pretty much lost my mind, but these are the moments that I hold on to, that get me through.


Recipe for Tear Gas Cake

1 egg

120 g of sugar

A few pinches of salt

10 g vanilla sugar (or 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract)

1 piece of lemon 

70 g of vegetable oil

200 g of warm milk

240 g of flour

10 g of baking powder

Lemon zest

A shot of tear gas lingering in the air

Sounds of gunfire—as many as there are


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