Join twowildtides on the country challenge. Each week, we’re going to be heading to a new country (in spirit). Primarily, we’ll be cooking a meal from each country; but we’ll also be watching travel documentaries, reading travel blogs, and listening to music. During the global pandemic, travel is largely inaccessible. We want to reignite our wanderlust, satisfy our travel bug as much as we can, and learn some new things along the way. I have a feeling our bucket list will have a number of items added to it through this experience as well. We created a simple alphabetical spreadsheet with all the countries of the world, and each week we will draw a random number that corresponds with a country on the spreadsheet.
Our random draw this week sent us to a country I think we’d all like to visit right now: Dominican Republic. Known, especially to Canadians, as a luxury all-inclusive resort destination, Dominican Republic is a country in the Caribbean that shares an island with Haiti. Imagine white sandy beaches, fruity cocktails, and tour buses, and you might think you’ve got the whole picture– but no, Dominican Republic has a rich culture, especially in the areas away from the luxury resorts and nightclubs. Here is an article from our visit to Dominican Republic in 2016:
The national dish of the Dominican Republic is not something I can recall trying on past trips, although it is not exactly a ‘stand out dish’ so I may have had it and not realized its cultural importance. Their national dish really embodies the whole idea of having a ‘national’ dish; La Bandera means “The Flag” and is meant to represent the colours of the Dominican flag (red, white, and blue).
La Bandera has three main components: white rice, stewed red kidney beans, and braised chicken; all of which is served with a simple garden salad. It is hard to find one wholesome recipe for La Bandera so I found individual recipes for each component (except the rice, which is prepared to box instructions).
The beans, also known as Habichuelas Guisadas:
And the chicken, also known as Pollo Guisado:
Across all the lists we searched, something else that is important to Dominican food culture is Morir Sanando, a non-alcoholic drink (that I’m sure would taste amazing with rum, haha!). It translates directly to “To die dreaming” so it has to be good! We followed this recipe:
Both La Bandera and Morir Sanando appear on this list by Trip 101, this list by Dominican Cooking (although the elements of La Bandera are listed separately), this list by Spoon University, and this list by Amigo Foods.
The recipes were very easy to follow, and the ingredients were all basic items we already had in our fridge and pantry. My only suggestion for the stewed beans recipe is to use about half the water– it calls for 4 cups and 2 cups (or maybe even less) would have been perfect.
For our garden salad, we just used spring mix, tomato, avocado, olive oil, and salt and pepper. The chicken was my favourite part. It was really flavourful. The stewed beans and rice were good as well. While La Bandera doesn’t top the charts in uniqueness, it is definitely a wholesome, satisfying meal that really hit the spot for us.
I was skeptical about the Morir Sonando. I grew up using only the smallest amount of condensed milk in my tea, not drinking a whole glass of it. I put the glasses in the freezer to frost them, squeezed some fresh orange juice, and mixed the condensed milk with sugar. When everything was combined we gave it a try. Wow. “To Die Dreaming” is so accurate. That said, it is pretty rich– more of a dessert than a thirst-quencher. But super, super delicious (and would be amazing with rum).
While we cooked, we listened to this playlist on Spotify:
I hope you get a chance to try La Bandera and Morir Sonando. And I hope we all get a chance to meet on a beach in the Dominican Republic in the somewhat near future. Stay tuned for next week!