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People in the Dominican Republic eat many of the same things as people in the United States. In fact, there are many popular American restaurants here such as Wendy’s, Pizza Hut, Quiznos, and IHOP. I eat with my Dominican host family every day. For breakfast, we often eat cereal or mangú. Mangú is made from boiled and mashed green plantains and is my absolute favorite Dominican food. It is often served with fried eggs or fried cheese. For dinner, we have something light such as a sandwich or more mangú. There are a lot of traditional Dominican sweets such as milk candy that I love to try. Lunch is the biggest meal of the day. We almost always have some form of rice and beans for lunch. The rice and beans are served with chicken, beef or pork. Also, we eat fried green plantains with lunch almost every day.
Do you know how to cook any food? I can only cook eggs, but I want to learn, since I will be living by myself when I return to the United States. One day, I asked my host mom’s cousin if I could help in the kitchen. We prepared a common Dominican lunch: rice, beans, meatballs and fried eggplant.
Though I’ve had rice, beans and meatballs before, the way they are cooked in the Dominican Republic is very different from what I have experienced. I especially loved the meatballs. I don’t like fried food much, so the fried eggplant was not my favorite. The other foods, though, I loved. I was very proud of myself for learning how to cook this food. I can’t wait to go back to the United States to cook Dominican meatballs, rice and beans for all my family and loved ones!
Since the meatballs are my favorite, I’ll give you the recipe for them. Remember that you should never cook alone and never cook without the permission of your parents. The meatballs are called albóndigas (al-BON-dee-gahs). To make them, dice 1/4 of a red bell pepper and 1/4 of a green pepper. Crush two cloves of garlic. Dice a handful of white and a handful of purple onions. Toast two to three slices of stale bread to make breadcrumbs. Put a small package of ground beef in a medium bowl. Add the breadcrumbs, peppers, onions and garlic. Add around 3/4 of a cup of milk, one egg, and three tablespoons of soy sauce. You can put in salt, pepper, and oregano to taste. Mix it all up. Form meatballs with your palm. Place enough vegetable oil in a pan that it will almost cover the meatballs. Heat the oil til it’s very hot and gently add the meatballs. Fry until they are cooked on the inside.
To make the sauce for the albóndigas, dice a handful of white and a handful of purple onions. Crush two cloves of garlic. Dice 1/4 of a red bell pepper and 1/4 of a green pepper. Add several tablespoons of tomato paste. Add several tablespoons of the oil used to fry the albóndigas. Add a cup or two of water. Stir until it is mixed and hot. Add the albóndigas. Cook until the sauce is thickened. Make sure to turn the albóndigas. There you have yummy, moist meatballs and a delicious sauce!
Rice and beans are widely consumed on a daily basis in the Dominican Republic. Though these crops are grown in the country, the Dominican Republic does not produce enough to be self-sufficient. That means that the Dominican Republic does not grow enough rice and beans to feed its population. Rice and beans must be imported from other countries such as the United States. What do you think this means for the relationship between the United States and the Dominican Republic? The Dominican Republic also produces beef, which is used to make meatballs. As with many countries, there are issues with the meat being clean and safe to eat. This is one reason why the Dominican Republic does not export beef to the United States. Why do you think the ability to export beef and other meet might be important to the Dominican Republic?