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Dec 28, 2007 01:37 PM

What Do Dominicans Eat?

We and three other couples are going to the Domican Republic for a week in February. I would like to throw a theme dinner but I have now idea what native Dominican Republicans (??) eat. Is the cusine Cuban inspired, Mexican, Spanish or what? Any advice?

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  1. first of all I have yet to meet a Dominican Republican, most Dominicans are Democrats or socialists. google "dominican food" also known as comida criolla. special ingredients you need wil be sold by the local supermarket in the goya section.

    2 Replies
    1. re: fara

      Doesn't "comida criolla" cover foods other than Dominican food?

      1. re: MMRuth

        yes. it translates to "creole food," from spanish.

    2. My husband is Dominican. Some of his favorite dishes are paticas de puerco (pigs feet), mondongo (tripe stew), rice and beans (red), tostones (twice fried green plantains), lechon (I'm in the doghouse for not making it for Christmas and will be trying it in January) and yuca fritters. I also like asopao, which is a tomato based stew type dish, featuring shrimp or chicken. I'm sure I'm missing some of the obvious ones.

      I've had other posters refer me to this site:

      I'm traveling, but will check some of my cookbooks when I get home.

      Edit - just talked to my husband who is with his family in Casa de Campo right now - other things include longaniza (sausage), mangu (cooked green plaintains, often served for breakfast), sancocho (stew - often with an old chicken, or various kinds of meats, sometimes with beans added, though my husband said that is somewhat unusual - it's often served on New Year's Day) and platanos maduros (ripe plantains, cooked - too sweet for my taste). Also pastelitos - which are like little empanadas. Lots of avocados. If you figure out what you might want to cook and post on the home cooking board, I'd be happy to dig up recipes for you.

      I'd add that it is not similar to Mexican food, other than having rice and beans, and that it is not spicy food.

      22 Replies
      1. re: MMRuth

        Out of curiosity... is he Black, White or Mestizo/Arawak? The reason I ask, is because I wonder if the Black/Mulato majority really eats the "Criollo" cuisine... which is usually Spanish for Spanish/European with a few local ingredients.

        1. re: Eat_Nopal

          Interesting point about "Criollo" - I asked him about the general use of the term criollo as it relates to food, and he said that his understanding (as was mine) is that the term could be applied to the food in other Spanish speaking Caribbean countries (and Puerto Rico), as well as in Haiti (creole). My very basic understanding was that the term criollo refers to cuisine imported by the Spanish or French, as the case may be, which then incorporated local ingredients.

          My husband is primarily of Spanish descent, with some Lebanese - some Spaniards and Lebanese who emigrated to the DR in the early 1900s and married into families who were descendants of much earlier immigrants. My sense of who eats what in the DR is that it is more a function of income level than race - and I don't know if many of the dishes I listed qualify as criollo or not. I think rice and beans are a staple, and they are served every day in his home. He loves typical Dominican dishes like mondongo and paticas, which I think I've never seen served as a meal in his home when I'm there, but which they make for him when he visits - his mother loves them too though. In his home, they also serve filete, grilled lobster tails etc., which I assume are expensive and not accessible to most, and his mother is very interested in food and so there will also be meals that have nothing to do with local cuisine - Italian, etc. But always rice and beans, no matter what else is served.

          1. re: MMRuth

            Thanks... any Lebanese influences in the mix? Also... the rice & beans... is it always White Rice (pilaf method) with whole Black Beans... or are there other variations.

            Finally, I have a feelign that if you get outside of the Spanish dominated areas and to the black & zambo villages there has to be some different cuisine... otoh, its seems that even the Criollos are eating very African dishes like Mondongo.

            1. re: Eat_Nopal

              Why do you label Mondongo as African? Don't the Spanish like tripe, pig's feet, etc?

              1. re: paulj

                This Venezuelan site describes their mondongo as having 'Spanish airs'
                "El mondongo o mute, es una sopa espesa con aires españoles, de contenidos diversos, y muy sazonado, pero de sabor inigualable."

                1. re: paulj

                  you're totally right...its of spanish origin.

                  that's where the lines blur so beutifully in comida dont know where it all came from just that it tastes so frikken good...

                  1. re: paulj

                    Mondongo is a word of Bantu origin (Central African Language)... Spain simply "stole" the dish... and unfortunately many Latin American Creoles like to attribute all Latin American things to Spanish inventions... but that is not really the case.

                    1. re: Eat_Nopal

                      The Spanish wiki article on mondongo
                      implies it is a creolization of the two cultures. It attributes the change from 'mondojo' to 'mondogo' to Bantu language influences. It also traces the dish in Argentina and Uruguay to poor slave/ex slave communities. As in the USA slaves would have used animal rejected by their owners. At the same time, the use of tripe and other offal has deep roots in Spanish culture. As discussed in another thread, 'tripas' may have Moorish origin, but 'callos' is from Latin.


                      1. re: paulj

                        Outside of Suburban American everybody eats in tripe, hearts, brain, tongue... offal to be succint. Mondongo is an African word not one of Spanish origin... its a typical pattern for creoles in Latin America to want to Spanicize everything... but Mondongo is such an obviously Bantu word following the same pattern as other African words such that have been Spanicized such as Marimba, Candombe, Tango, Bamba and Cachimbo... these do not follow Spanish schematics at all... if the dish was of Spanish origin it surely would have a real Spanish name. Lets put it simply, I challenge you to derive the Spanish root words that compose the word Mondongo (or any of the other African words I have mentioned)... what is Mondon, what is Go in Spanish? Nothing... there is nothing Spanish about this word... if it was a Spanish dish it would have a Spanish name.

                      2. re: Eat_Nopal

                        "and unfortunately many Latin American Creoles like to attribute all Latin American things to Spanish inventions... but that is not really the case."

                        WHOA!! hold up there....that is in NO way true, so please dont generalize.

                    2. re: Eat_Nopal

                      Lebanese - kibbe is popular, and stuffed grape leaves. Don't recall seeing anything else Lebanese. The rice and beans that I always see are white rice and red beans. I'll ask my husband about your last point, but some of his family is from the middle of the country and as far as I know, eat much of the same food as is eaten in the coastal areas. Also, there is a large Haitian population these days, and so they may well also eat Haitian dishes. My sense is though that the populations is over all pretty mixed in terms of Spanish/African etc., but with a wide spectrum of color, so to speak. There's also a pretty large group of Italian immigrants. As you may know, the native population was pretty much wiped out very early on and so one sees much less influence of them in both cuisine and population.

                      1. re: MMRuth

                        My mother is Dominican, I spent my childhood summers inthe Dominican Republic. I ate kibbe (spelled quippe or similar) all the time. Imagine my surprise years later when at a middle eastern restaurant we ordered Kibbe and out came my favorite childhood food!

                        Everything people are listing is pretty much what we ate at my aunt's and cousin's houses. Rice, beans, plantains, pastelitos, yuca, sanchocho, mangu.... cassava (casabe) bread toasted with garlic...... bacalao fish.....

                        Its funny that when my mom came to this country 40 odd years ago, people asked her if she liked tacos. She had never had one. She gagged on her first one..... likes them now though......

                        1. re: MMRuth

                          I checked w/ my husband, who is still in the DR, and he said that there really aren't significant regional differences in food in the DR. Yes, some eat more seafood than others, and he has heard people say that the way rice is made in La Romana is better than in Santo Domingo, but generally, there are not pockets of "African" communities that eat a significantly different cuisine.

                          1. re: MMRuth

                            I think the Genome Project has disproven the idea that native caribbean populations were wiped out. In fact, many darker skin creole's have ALOT of Arawak ancestry.

                            1. re: Eat_Nopal


                              There is some discussion here of the influences of the Taino on food eaten in the DR today.

                              1. re: Eat_Nopal

                                no, not wiped out necessarily, just enslaved, brutalized, and absorbed by the Spanish colonizers and bred into the creole culture we have today.

                                there's more remnants left of the taino and arawak culture left on DR and PR, and virtually none left in Cuba now.

                          2. re: MMRuth

                            you're so right about economic level being a dictator (ha). My grandmother's mother came to DR with her family from spain when it was fashionable to do so, and for generations, they still continued to send their children back to Spain for an education, and married them off to other spanish descendents. to this day, my maternal grandmother's people are the whitest people I see in DR.

                            growing up 3/4 cuban and 1/4 Dominican, Mulatto was common for white (spanish) mixed with black, and Mestizo, was mixed with indigenous. and in Cuba, if one happened to be a black cuban, you were black first, cuban second...oh my racist people *sigh*

                          3. re: Eat_Nopal

                            In my understanding of the term "criollo" its almost like downhome/country/native. An example is eggs and chickens. "Pollo criollo" is a naturally raised chicken whereas other types of chickens are mass produced (they refer to the eggs like that as well).
                            To answer the OP, we (I am using the collective "we") really love potato salad for some reason...made with mayonnaise and hard boiled eggs. Some people even add peas and carrots to it. We also like spagehtti cooked with salami and boiled within an inch of its life and for some reason, steak tends to be very tough and overdone.
                   Dominican meal is complete without a bottle of Dominican rum and some coke and a Presidente beer so cold, it will give you a brain freeze. Someone gave the link for the Dominican cooking website and there is a very funny article that talks about how cold beer in the DR is a national obsession. I have seen people send back a beer because its not cold enough (come to think of it...I've done it myself)

                            1. re: HungryRubia

                              I'd forgotten the potato salad - at my MIL's always made w/ peas and carrots.

                              1. re: HungryRubia

                                The Mexican definition of Pollo Criollo is Native Chicken - well we all know Chickens are really native only to China - so specifically it means local / heirloom chicken (which in Mexico usually refers to a smallish, very yellow & very flavorful bird.. does this have a different definition elsewhere?

                              2. re: Eat_Nopal

                                I'm part Puerto rican and our food is VERY similar to Domincan food and "Criollo" cuisine usually means anything indigenous to the islands- could even mean very indigenous things like pasteles de yuca or masa (like a tamal made out of yuca or yautia/green banana) or yuca hervida. It's not just spanish food with local ingredients.

                              3. re: MMRuth

                                I'll second the Dominican cooking site...its lovely...

                                comida criolla, translates to creole food, but its not Cajun...

                                its akin to Cuban and Puerto Rican food...which is spawned from primarily Spanish and African influences, and what's available on the island...

                                not much heat, but heavy on flavor and spice, citrus, garlic, fruits fresh veggies and roots..rices, pork, goat, chicken...

                              4. Dominican cooking is a blend of influences. MMRuth named a lot of delicious dishes that are loved in DR. Another dish very unique to DR is sancocho - a delicious stew with yuca, casava, pork, and other tropical veggies simmered in a rich broth. has a good recipe for it.

                                Desserts that are popular are tres leches cake and arroz con coco (coconut rice pudding) and Dominican flan is the richest and tastiest flan I have ever eaten. (Due to the half and half and the leche condensada - sweetened condensed milk).

                                My favorite Dominican dessert - though it's more of a beverage - and your guests will love this for your theme dinner -- is morir soñando. It's a delicious shake that taste like an orange creamsicle - only better! You mix ice, very cold milk and VERY cold orange juice together in a bowl. (Don't worry - the cold temp keeps it from curdling!) Then you add the icy milk & juice mixture to a blender, add sweetened condensed milk, and a 1/2 tsp of vanilla. Blend until frothy and pour into a tall glass. Taste it and you'll know why they named it morir soñando (lit. means "to die dreaming!")!

                                Hope these help! Disfrútalo! (Enjoy!)

                                3 Replies
                                1. re: Sra. Swanky

                                  Two other things I forgot - croquetas - which I believe have a bechamel base, and are usually chicken or ham - and kibbe - there is quite a large Lebanese immigrant community there. I'm not a fan generally of Dominican desserts because I find them overly sweet, but in my MIL's house they make a fantastic prune pie.

                                  Also, I'm often surprised that more seafood isn't eaten, though there is an issue at some times of the year there with a toxic tide or something that means you can't eat the local fish skin. I don't see a lot of green vegetables - asparagus from a can sometimes, salads are usually iceberg and lously tomatoes at my MIL's - where the food is otherwise wonderful.

                                  1. re: MMRuth

                                    "The Complete Book of Caribbean Cookiing" by Elisabeth Lambert Ortiz has some good recpes from the Dominican Republic.

                                  2. re: Sra. Swanky

                                    I used to go to Santo Domingo for work years ago... I remember a wonderful dessert called "Majarete" (or something like that) that was basically a cornmeal and coconut flan. Goya makes a boxed variety of it, but it doesn't come anywhere near what I had in the DR.

                                  3. The original comment has been removed
                                    1. There used to be a number of Dominican Chinese restaurants in the NYC area, one of which was nearby my college. I survived on their deliciously cheap lunch specials throughout those years, a mixture of Cantonese dishes and sides such as fried plantains and rice and beans.