“Quisqueya,” from the extinct Taino language of the Caribbean, means “mother of all lands.”
It is the original name of Hispaniola, the island on which Haiti and the Dominican Republic are located.
Today the name can be found on universities, neighborhoods and a number of businesses paying homage to a place that has influenced the world through its people, culture and cuisine.
Christopher Columbus’ arrival in 1492, the importing of African slaves and the island’s subsequent colonization and struggles in response would set the stage for a fascinating blend of culinary innovation and influences.
In a nondescript shopping center along Gate City Boulevard (formerly High Point Road), a sign bears the name Quisqueya Restaurant. It’s easy to miss given its discreet location and the ongoing road improvements out front.
A month or so ago, a friend sent me a Facebook message asking if I’d been. Stunned, I replied, “No, when can we go?” It’s rare that a new food destination opens in town and I don’t know about it. We set a date and a few minutes before our dinner time the next evening, I pulled into the inconspicuous parking lot that fronts the building.