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Dominican Republic - Food and Drink
One famous dish is la bandera dominicana, meaning "the Dominican flag". It includes red beans (habichuelas) or tiny black peas (morros). Rice is often combined with chicken which is fried, grilled or served "asopao", with a rich soupy sauce. The main meal is usually "platanos": deep-fried local plantains. Locals often eat it with ketchup or a small coleslaw salad.
Breakfast in this country is traditionally large and it typically includes huevos revueltos (scrambled eggs), jambon (ham), mangu (mashed plantains with oil and fried onion), queso frito (deep fried cheese), jugo de naranja (orange juice), and a cup of strong coffee with milk and sugar.
Lunch in the Dominican Republic can be quite hearty and it's mostly served between noon and 2pm. Dinner is the main meal of the day and it's a family affair. Aside from the chicken which is very common, popular meals include the following elements:
- Mandongo – a tripe stew
- Mofongo – a tasty blend of plantains with pork and garlic
- Bistec Encebollado – grilled steak topped with onions and peppers
For some special occasions, especially in rural areas, Dominicans serve chivo, which is a roast goat, with cassava, which is a crispy and flat bread made from ground yucca roots. Instead of chivo, they may also combine it with sanocho, which is a national delicacy. Sanocho is a hearty stew with five different types of meat, four types of tuber, vegetables and a lot of spices.
One of the most versatile options in this country is seafood. Dominicans prepare it in five different ways:
- Criolla – in a tasty, spicy tomato sauce
- Al ajillo – doused in a rich garlic sauce
- Al horno – roasted with lemon
- Al oregano – in a tangy sauce with fresh oregano and heavy cream
- Con coco – in a tomato, garlic and a coconut milk, which can be mostly found on the Samana Peninsula.
The best local fish are the mero (sea bass), chillo (red snapper), and carite (kingfish). Other popular choices are langosta (clawless lobster), lambi (conch), camarones (shrimp), pulpo (octopus), and cangrejo (crab).
Desserts in the Dominican Republic are nice, but very sweet. Some of the best types of dessert are dulces con coco, made with molasses and coconut shavings. Other good choices include dulces de leche and dulces de naranja, made of molasses-orange marmalade. There's also a variety of cakes, custards and flans in this country. The most distinctive cake is flan de maiz. For those who like healthier options, it's best to explore tropical fruits. The following fruits are popular here:
- Guineos – bananas
- Lechosa – papaya
- Pina – pineapple
- Limncillos – tiny delicious lime-like fruits, sold in bunches
- Chinola – Dominican passion fruit
Dominican coffee is among the best in the world. It grows in the heights of the Cordillera Central mountain range. It's the most exported item in the country, sold to grocery stores and coffee bars in North America and Europe. Dominicans mostly drink it without milk, but with a huge amount of sugar. Dominican cafe con leche is made with steamed milk.
Jugo de naranja is a fresh orange juice and is a typical Dominican morning drink. Locals tend to add sugar to the juice. Later in the day, they often drink coconut milk, which can be bought from many street vendors. Dominican batidas are popular fruit shakes made with ice, milk and papaya, pineapple, mango or banana. Another similar drink is the morir sonado, a mix of orange juice, condensed milk, sugar and crushed ice. Coca Cola and Pepsi are very common drinks in this country.
There are several Dominican beers, but the most popular one is Presidente. It is served normal-sized for RD$50 and large for RD$100. It can be compared with many beers worldwide. Dominicans usually drink it ice-cold.
Another popular option is the inexpensive local rum. The most famous ones are Brugal, Barcelo and Bermudez. Bermudez is considered to be the best in the country. A popular way to drink it is with Coca Cola as Cuba libre. In some discos and bars, you can ask for Cuba libre servicio, which is a bottle of rum, two Cokes and a bucket of ice.
There's a local potent drink called Mama Juana, which can be quite hard to stomach. It's a mix of local wines, rum, honey, and leaves from various trees. Locals believe that this drink is good for sexual potency and longer life span. Traditionally, it has to be buried under ground for at least three months, and then laid out on the sun for another three. After this long process, it is ready to be served. Mama Juana bottles can be found in local souvenir shops that circumvent this extended process. There's also a recipe for finishing the brew on label of the bottle.
Eating out can be quite cheap in the Dominican Republic and the food is outstanding. In more formal dining places, the prices are higher, but still cheaper than places in North America or Europe. Except in cafeterias, when paying, people are charged with a 16% sales tax and a 10% service charge. It's a tradition to give an additional 10% tip. The cheapest places to eat in this country are cafeterias. They often serve typical local fare like fried fish, chicken stew, rice and beans, mangu and platanos.
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