Tuesday, July 2, 2013

La Comida Dominicana: Non-Alcoholic Drinks


Morir Soñando

Dominicans are fond of jugos naturales, or natural juices, fresh-squeezed and perfect as an afternoon treat under the hot Caribbean sun. Some of our favorites include chinola (passion fruit), tamarindo (tamarind), morir soñando (bitter orange and condensed milk), and cereza (Barbados cherry). 

Just as popular are batidas, thick fruit smoothies made with ice, sugar, and condensed milk. Must-try varieties include zapote (sapote, a blood orange-colored fruit with a brown skin), lechosa (papaya), and guanábana (soursop, with a rough green exterior with soft white flesh and black seeds).


Perhaps even more than beer and rum (to be discussed next week), coffee is the drink of choice for every citizen across the country. Coffee accompanies every family conversation, midday meal, business meeting, and first date. In the DR, the coffee is distinctive: hot, strong, and deliciously sweet. As it’s served in small, espresso-sized cups, coffee in the home is often called a cafecito, or little coffee. Sugar, a Dominican agricultural star, is added in liberal amounts – café con leche (coffee with milk) can only be found in restaurants. At home or in small shops, coffee is served black (called solo or negro). Coffee forms an integral part of the Dominican history and economy. Brought over from Africa in the early 18th century, coffee has become one of the DR’s major exports. Farmers cultivate the sublime bean all across the Dominican highlands, in both the north and the south. Visiting a small farm to see where that cafecito came from is one of the best ways to experience a taste of campesino life.

Other Liquid Delights

Té de Jengibre
Around Christmas, té de jengibre (ginger tea) is served at family gatherings with galletas (crackers). Chocolate (hot chocolate) and avena (liquid oatmeal) also make appearances in the cooler months. In rural areas, a drink called mabí is a popular refreshment, often sold in unmarked bottles. It looks and tastes like a lemonade cousin, but is actually brewed from bark and spices.

Of course, the careful traveler should be warned to make sure drinks come from boiled or bottled water.

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