Country of the Month: Dominican Republic
Beautiful beaches, lively music, and a love for baseball. If these are the only things that come to mind when you think of the Dominican Republic, our Country of the Month, then keep reading – there is so much more to learn!
The Dominican Republic is found on the island of Hispaniola which also houses Haiti. But unlike their French-speaking roommates, people here speak Spanish. Their European and African roots have mixed and evolved over the centuries, creating a culture that is welcoming, has a sense of humor, enjoys life, and focuses on family!
Table of Contents:
- Common Phrases
- Music & Dance
The Dominican Republic was actually the place where Columbus landed in 1492 when he attempted to sail to India, not the Americas! By 1496, the Spanish established Santo Domingo which is still the capital today. However, their settlement was not welcomed. The indigenous people who lived on the island, the Taínos, wanted the Spanish to leave. But disease, warfare, and forced labor destroyed the population. As the Spanish empire grew, slaves from Africa were brought to the island. Thus, the start of their mixed roots and different influences coming together and creating a new culture. Over the years, the Dominican Republic faced invasions from Haiti and the United States, dictatorship, and natural disasters. Yet, the population’s resiliency has helped them establish democracy and work towards providing a safer environment for their people.
Dominican food has Taíno, Spanish, African, and French influences. Some of the most popular ingredients you may find in their dishes are meat, plantains, beans, and coconut. Read what is in these traditional dishes and try to make one at home with your kids!
This is also the Spanish word for flag, but in the Dominican Republic it is the most important lunch meal. Each item represents a color in their flag: white rice, red beans, and using one’s imagination, meat represents the blue. Other side items include salad and avocado.
Considered the national soup, it can contain up to seven different types of meat! Other things to add to the soup are plantains, corn and yams.
A traditional sponge cake with pineapple jam in the middle and covered in vanilla frosting.
Mangu is uniquely a Dominican breakfast dish. It consists of a side of mashed plantains, eggs, fried salami, and fried cheese. These items together are called “Los Tres Golpes” or The Three Strikes.
Habichuelas con Dulce
Habichuelas (beans) with sugar might sound strange but it is a must try! Everyone’s recipe is slightly different but it is essentially a cold soup-like mixture with coconut milk, raisins, and sometimes sweet potato.
You might hear someone say “El otro dia tome el concho para ir al colmado porque mi rodilla todavía no se mejora, y porque necesitaba leche para hacer un bizcocho. Pero se me olvido porque vi esta vaina que me gusto mucho! Ahora tengo que tomar el guaguas para ir a la tienda para comprar un bizcocho de la tienda porque no tengo tiempo de hacerlo!”
Even if you speak Spanish you would not understand what is going on! That’s because these are common slang words used in the Dominican Republic. Use this translation to understand what each word means from our Country of the Month:
“The other day I took a taxi to go to the corner store because my knee has not healed and I needed milk to make a cake. But I forgot it because I said this thing that I really liked! Now I have to take the bus to go to the store and buy a cake since I no longer have time to make one!”
Music & Dance
Dominicans love music and are known for their merengue and bachata. Merengue is a very fun dance and one of the easiest to pick up. Learn the basic steps using this video or watch this beautiful merengue routine. If you are interested in listening to new music check out these famous Dominican artists!
- Juan Luis Guerra
- Jose Alberto
- Kat De Luna
- Antony Santos
- Romeo Santos
Lastly, we would like to recognize our staff from the Dominican Republic, as they have enriched everyone’s learning by sharing their creativity and culture with everyone!
- Jansel: Visionary and Special Projects Leader
- Yarisa: Graphic Designer
- Sandy: Facility Manager
- Aurelia: Cook