Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Beans and Rice!












My recent trip was nothing short of AMAZING!

There's nothing like a change in perspective to brighten your mood in the middle of dreary November.
Our one week trip had us travelling around South-West Dominican Republic.
We resided in the small town of Consuelo, taking day trips out to Batays (impoverished communities largely made up of illegally-trafficked Haitians being payed next to nothing to cut sugar-cane 12 hours a day), the town of San Pedro and the capital of Sante Domingo.
This was primarily a social justice trip designated by my Catholic school board that I raised the funds to attend. We learned about the value of community (something we seem to be lacking in out individualistic Western society), the injustice in the world (we were only a 4 hour flight from our 1st world country, yet children were running barefoot in garbage dumps, on empty stomachs because their parents were unemployed) but most importantly, our ability to change the situation if we so choose.
Okay, 'nuff about that. This is a cooking blog, not a social justice report (though do expect to hear little tid-bits regarding such things, as I am possibly looking into related university courses in the year to come).

The cuisine of the DR is predominantly made up of rice, beans and carbohydrate-rich foods, reflecting its Spanish, Taino and African influences. It is very much like other Latin-American cuisines.

In a country where the people must expend a great deal of energy performing any task (walking to work, lugging groceries, dancing in church, etc.) in the intense heat, high-energy food is key.

Foods like squash, corn, plantain, rice, beans and potatoes are a staple because of their affordability and 'tummy-filling' qualities. While beans are obviously the foremost source of protein, meat or poultry or fish may be offered during the mid-day meals on occasion.

The following are examples of typical foods you would find at each meal:
*You would not find all of these foods on the same day, these are just a gathering of examples

Breakfast - Eggs with a side of mashed plantains, fried dough patty with a slice of fried meat in casing, every breakfast is served with a hot chocolate type drink made by melting a few pure chocolate bars in water, adding salt and sugar and a cinnamon stick.

Lunch - (Known as La Bandera - "The Flag" because of it's red, white and blue colours on the plate). Rice, red beans, maybe some meat, a lightly dressed salad of cabbage, iceberg lettuce, maybe tomato and cucumber. Maybe some fries vegetables, but this is rare, a local fruit is a treat as well. *Lunch is the main meal of the day

Dinner - Dumplings, pasta, corn dish, potato dish, something light...

It is worth mentioning that we had three grape-fruit trees in our host-family's backyard!! As well as a guava tree! Our house grandmother would collect the fallen, ripened fruit and puree the flesh and strain the pulp. Then she mixed the nectar with water and sugar and let it cool in the fridge all morning as a refreshing lunchtime drink.

Now, this was by no means a luxurious, resort style of trip. We were living in the interior of the DR, where Dengue fever and Malaria are of concern. We had 5+ vaccination needles and various [ills to take before during and after our travels. We bucket-showered for a week, rarely had electricity or running water, but it made us appreciate different things, like conversation with friends or the warm weather.

I won't get to in depth with the trip - I'll just let you see the photos and draw your own conclusions.

**I did get the chance to see a prized chicken-fighting champion. I mean the actual chicken... he is the last photo in the list.

CWC is back on track for the next month!


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