When I turned fourteen, I learned how to say plantains in the English language.
Before then, I just knew the word in Kreyol or as Mona calls it—Haitian. She believed Kreyol did not truly capture our independence from colonial powers. Haitian was a break from the French and in solidarity with the Arawak people.
But bunun was a common dish we ate with saffron vegetable rice, pikliz, and garlic infused fish. When aunt Marie dipped the batter in a cilantro and habanero sauce the entire house would be an explosion of subtropical flavors. For me, eating bunun was about going to the market and picking the right ones.
Bunun was about bargaining with the local Cuban grocer and interjecting mira hoping that he could understand our strategy. Bunun was a staple that everyone in the Caribbean fried, boiled, and baked. We sprinkled sea salt and pepper on this sweet and starchy overgrown banana and turned it into what we wanted.
Bunun was not a word but an eruption of flavors that could only come in the Haitian language.