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The Dominican Republic: Part 1

January 31st, 2008

Tea on the beach

I recently returned from a two-week vacation to the Dominican Republic (D.R.). My wife and I have friends there we visited and stayed with during out trip. This was my second time visiting but my first time really visiting with the people and learning a little more about the culture.

Of course, this being a food blog and all, I have to talk about my food experiences. Over the next couple of weeks I am going to be sharing about some cooking I did while I was there and also cooking I experienced! I can’t wait to share it all and hope that you enjoy reading it!

I want to start with some typical meals that you might experience in some poorer parts of the D.R. I’ve got some photos of the market in La Vega below so that might give you an idea of some of the foods they get to eat (rice, beans, chicken).

Chicken in the marketbeans and rice, rice and beans

The Meal line-up looks like this:

  1. For breakfast: Hot Chocolate with some really dry bread. The bread is a lot like a hot-dog bun and is commonly found around the country. They have three basic types, large hot-dog bun, regular hot-dog bun, and small. To them, it’s just “pan” (in Spanish) or “bread” (in English). The hot chocolate was really rich and really sweet. Just what you need to kick-start your day!
  2. Of course, as with every meal, you need some coffee! Coffee is absolutely a part of every day life in the D.R. The coffee is not quite like Starbucks, which is fine by me. They use the italian-espresso making device that they call a “greca.” It looks like you can buy them online. The coffee turns out really strong (like an espresso shot) but you wouldn’t find a Dominican drinking a cup without at least 1/8 cup of sugar in each shot! It tastes SO good with all that sugar, but you just know it can’t be good for you.
  3. For lunch, which is the most important — and largest — meal of the day, I ate well. Most of the time I had a plate full of rice and beans. They use a red pinto-like bean there and white rice. The rice is steamed (often with a plastic bag over the pan instead of a solid lid) in a ton of oil and a ton of salt. The beans are pressure cooked and then boiled for a bit with seasonings including (but not limited to): a ton of salt, oil, cilantro, garlic cloves, a type of squash and more salt! This meal is full of salt but that’s probably what makes it soooo good! YUM!Often I would have chicken (sometimes scrambled eggs) with this meal which is cooked in all the same seasonings as the beans plus sugar (for color — they say) and soy sauce (or in Spanish “salsa China”).
  4. Dinner is light, but full of starch. I ate with a few families in their homes while I was there and typically I had one (or more) of the following three boiled: Yuka, Plantains (Platinos), and bananas. Plantains are a very starchy — almost potato like — version of a banana. These are surprisingly good boiled! Along with the starch you had to have a protein which was one of the following: fried salami (again more oil), fried egg, or we even had freshly butchered pork one night.

I hope this gives you some insight into typical Dominican meals. In the coming week or so I will share some recipes (new and old) along with photos of me preparing food in some interesting places! Stay tuned…

5 Responses to ' The Dominican Republic: Part 1 '

  • The Dominican Republic: Part 2 (Coffee!) | Making Banana Pancakes says: [February 5th, 2008 12:17 am]

    […] house we would be served a delicious cup of Dominican coffee. If you’ve read my last post, you know coffee also comes along with every meal. Needless to say, we drank a lot of coffee while […]

  • e says: [July 17th, 2008 7:48 am]

    sounds like you are complaining about the food in a way or making the food look bad,by talking aboutt tons of salt,sugar,and oil. We eat healthy too.

  • Keith Prickett says: [July 17th, 2008 10:21 am]

    “e” —
    I was simply contrasting with the way I tend to cook in order to help understand the difference. The food is good, and all that salt seems necessary with the amount of sweat that comes out of me there!

  • julia says: [March 28th, 2011 11:44 am]

    I’m dominican, and it completely depends where you eat. We don’t add tons of sugar to our coffee, or salt and oil to out rice and we do cover it with a lid.. not plastic bag. Jesus.. it sounds like you stayed in a slum!

    So sad.. that’s why I tell all my foreign friends to not leave the resort areas when they travel to DR.. they can’t seem to find their way to civilization and always end on slums…

  • Keith Prickett says: [March 28th, 2011 12:08 pm]

    Yes. If you want to call it a “slum,” then you can. I stayed in an area of very low poverty for much of my travels to the Dominican Republic. We have friends there and enjoy the relationships. The food line-up I mentioned was based on my experience in these very poor areas. It’s not very healthy and I should have specified the setting before I wrote this. I have experienced food in a few other places in the Dominican Republic, including in resort areas. Resort areas all around the world are the same though. I was trying to sure a more unique experience. Thanks for reading!

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