Friday, June 27, 2008

The Best and Worst of Dominican Food

The best:
- Fried plantains. The plaintain—a big, unripe banana—is a staple of Dominican food. It’s not that remarkable of a food, but it is delicious fried. Kind of like home-fried potatoes, but with a richer, earthier taste. Yum.

- Tostones. These are plantains that are fried, taken out of the oil and mashed with a fork, then fried again. Seriously, Dominicans know how to fry shit up.

- Skim Ice. These are definitely the best possible use of a 5-peso coin. They’re just popsicles in a plastic tube, but they are way, way better than American plastic-tube popsicles. They have a better texture and a stronger flavor, and they come in awesome flavors like passionfruit and guava. Plus, guys stand on the road and sell them to you through the windows of hot, crowded guaguas, which makes them taste even better.

- Yogen-Früz. I believe I have blogged about Yogen-Früz before, but it is worth mentioning again. Yogen- Früz is kind of like Cold Stone Creamery, but with frozen yogurt and fresh fruit. And they blend it more thoroughly so it’s a soft-serve-smoothy type thing. And it is delicious. I do not know where Yogen-Früz came from, or why it has an umlaut in its name, but I am very happy it has arrived in the DR.

- Fresh fruit. It’s mango season, and I’ve been eating, on average, two fresh, delicious mangoes every day. Plus there’s pineapple, papaya, watermelon…mmm. Weirdly, my Dona likes to sprinkle raisins on top of sliced mangoes, but this is fine.

The worst:
- Boiled plantains. Mushy and flavourless. I don’t understand why Dominicans do this to plantains when they could just fry them.

- Spaghetti. I remember the first time I was offered spaghetti here. I was so excited to have something besides rice and beans. Oh, how innocent I was then, how little I knew of the horrors of Dominican spaghetti. First of all, it’s always overcooked and mushy and oily. Second of all, they don’t put any veggies or anything in the sauce, it’s just plain tomato sauce. Third, and worst of all, they do put condensed milk in the sauce. The result is a horribly mushy, squishy, flavourless, terrible food product.

- Seriously, Dominican spaghetti is so bad it deserves to be on this list twice.

- Mondongo. I haven’t actually eaten this—my vegetarian card gets me a pass—but I have been offered it and smelled it. It’s a traditional Dominican dish made out of cow intestines. Grosssssss.

- Powdered milk. It is gross and lumpy and my Dona gives it to me boiling hot to put over cereal.

- Rice and beans. This is actually okay—although the beans are always on the salty side—but I am absurdly tired of eating them every day. I’ve been too spoiled by the variety of my hippie American diet.

PS: Del, about the guy with the machine gun guarding the yogurt--dudes with machine guns are pretty common here. You usually see at least one sitting on a lawn chair in front of a bank, for example. So I think this guy was just the grocery store's standard guart with machine gun who happened to be hanging out in front of the dairy cooler, not that he was particularly guarding the yogurt at gunpoint.

Also, a note about roosters--my friend Trina got a care package with about 20 pairs of earplugs. She gave me a pair on Sunday and my life has been REVOLUTIONIZED by them. I sleep through the night now! I no longer spend abnormal lengths of time fantasizing about killing roosters! It is so awesome.

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