Being in the Caribbean, the Dominican Republic is open to a lot of influences, and of course those influences will be reflected in the one of the most popular aspect of any country’s cultural expressions – its food. The cuisine of the Dominican Republic is similar to many other Latin American cuisines, with an overwhelmingly Spanish flavor, but with additional African and local Taino influences.
Appetizing Spanish cuisine is transformed by the availability of local ingredients in a Dominican Republic household, as it has been done in other Spanish colonies across the world. So what the’re serving up there in Hispaniola is at once familiar, yet different enough to get the mouth watering at the thought of having something other than more Mexican.
Although the West Indies location has its influence over the cuisine, the spicing of the dishes here is milder than other areas there. Onions, garlic, coriander and oregano are the primary spices of a Dominican meal, and chicken, beef, goat or seafood are the main ingredients, depending on whether the dish originated on the coast or in the mountains.
Ready to start your day off with a typical Dominican breakfast? Then you’ll probably be having some hearty eggs and mangu, which is a puree of plantains and cassava or taro, either boiled or fried. It’s a savory dish, which goes well accompanied by fried red onions, meat or white cheese.
Lunch is the most substantial meal of the day, a Spanish influence on their lifestyle from all those years of colonization. And if you ask a Dominican what he would recommend for lunch, the answer would most probably be La Bandera Dominicana, which means “The Dominican Flag”. Now this is a complete meal in itself, and consists of rice, beans, and meat, with fried plantains and maybe a vegetable salad as add-ons to this tri-color national dish.
Local Food If you’re looking for something just as hearty to add to an already super-sized meal, then there’s Sanchocho, which is a Spanish-style stew made with various rootcrops, green plantains, avocado and meat. When they use seven different types of meat, it’s known as Sanchocho Prieto. For something lighter, there’s Chicharrones de Pollo, which are deep-fried chunks of chicken. For the more adventurous, there’s Chivo, which is roasted goat, while Mondongo is a type of stew made with tripe and entrails. And then there’s streetfood for those who really like to immerse themselves in a culture. Frituras (fried snacks), chicharrones (pork rinds) pollo frito (fried chicken) and chimichurri (hamburgers) are just some of what you might discover being sold around the corner from where you’re staying.
But those are specific dishes. Typically, you may encounter a variety of meats or seafood in different kinds of sauces, like “sofrito”, and “criolla” (Creole) which are spicy and tomato based, or “con coco”, which is coconut-milk based, and “al ajillo”, which is heavy on the garlic or “a la crema”, which creamy like Bechamel sauce.
And what about dessert? Local island fruits like mangoes, pineapples, oranges, and bananas just can’t be beat, and you can find them prepared in a variety of ways if you’re not satisfied with having them fresh in your hand.
Presidente is the most popular brand of beer there, while your Caribbean experience won’t be complete without some rum, of which Barceló and Bermúdez are good examples