Tuesday, June 18, 2013

La Comida Dominicana: Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner

Before we get to discussion of the meals, we have to talk about the vívere, or starchy vegetable, which is ubiquitous in the Dominican diet. The most common include plátano (plantain) and yuca (cassava root), but others include batata (a kind of sweet potato), yautía (taro root), and auyama (pumpkin). Víveres are served most often boiled or fried.

Mangu: Boiled and Mashed Plantains with Red Onions

When morning hunger strikes, there's an answer, and his name is plantain. This first meal of the day is a twofold affair. The first half involves a serving of víveres - usually plantains, and often boiled to high pliability.
The second is played by one of a trio of delicacies, usually fried to a crisp: huevos (eggs), queso (cheese), or salami, topped off with some of that delicious frying oil. 
Breakfast is taken with a short, sweet and strong cup of coffee.

One popular breakfast dish is mangú, made from mashed boiled plantains. It's then topped with red onions marinated in vinegar to cut the grease of that frying oil. A lighter alternative to víveres is hot chocolate boiled with cinnamon and allspice served with pan de agua (bread).  In the cooler months, you might also receive oatmeal prepared with generous amounts of milk, sugar, and cinnamon.


The famous midday meal is by far the heaviest and most involved in terms of preparation and consumption time. Lunch features la Bandera Dominicana, i.e. the Dominican flag. The food trio on the plate, after all, reflects the trifecta on the flag. (Dominicans are clearly as patriotic about their homeland as they are about their food.)
La Bandera Dominicana: Rice, Beans, Meat

This meal features a base of arroz, or white rice, topped with habichuelas, or beans, and carne, or meat (usually chicken, but sometimes pork, beef, or goat). 

One variant on the all-purpose rice-and-beans dish is called moro, in which the beans and rice are cooked together in one pot. For a well-balanced meal, a small salad or a vegetable side like eggplant, potato, avocado, or okra accompanies the bandera.


Nighttime dining is fairly straightforward, mirroring breakfast with a carbohydrate and protein component. Boiled víveres are again paired with fried eggs, cheese, or salami. Bring on the oil.


Dulce de Naranja (Orange Sweet)
Anyone eating in the DR, home of the endless sugarcane plantation, would be remiss without a sweet ending to a savory meal. Dessert may be simply that liberally sugared cup of coffee. A popular treat is a piece of dulce (literally, sweet) made with milk, sugar, and fruit boiled to a pulp. In restaurants, you’ll find international flavors like flan and tres leches, a dish made with three iterations of dairy product. Coconut, when available, is popular in postprandial sweets, made into cookies or biscuits called coconetes.

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