For our fourth mini-interview with Dominicans from the artistic and cultural world we bring you a humorous interview with talented Dominican photojournalist Miguel Gomez.
Q - What’s your favourite dish?
MG – It doesn’t matter what the weather is like or what I last ate, a mangú with fried white cheese is always welcome.
Q - What’s your favourite recipe (for cooking)? Do you have any trick or secret to share?
MG – White rice with fried eggs. And rather than a trick, it could just be my very own culinary ‘deficiency’: I make my white rice with just garlic and bay leaf and olive oil and it turns out perfectly… as long as it’s NO more than one cup: every time I make a bit more I make a mess, it comes out soggy and sticky, or ‘apatao.’ All this is done ‘al ojo porciento’ i.e. without measuring. Let’s just say I cook by intuition so I choose not to risk making more than one cup. If we have three people for dinner one will not eat.
Q - Have you got any memories or anecdotes of Dominican food or the gastronomic culture, from your family home?
MG – When I was little and I lived with my grandparents they always teased me because they said I didn’t like meat, they would serve me fried sausage and I’d only nibble the edges. I also remember that I loved bread with dulce de leche inside as a sandwich; the truth is that looking back on it in hindsight and putting it into perspective I was a little bit strange. But what has undoubtedly marked all my family gastronomic existence has been the general idea that I’m a very ‘fussy’ eater when in reality I blame my grandparents who indulged me in every way (what are grandparents for after all?) and up till the age of eight I ate whatever I liked so I’ve been lucky to last this long in good health. I hope it doesn’t come back to bite me.
Q - Has food influenced your work in any way?
MG – Not quite in my usual work, but I did work for a gastronomic magazine and I remember it being quite relaxing to take photos of pre-prepared dishes. It was fun to find new angles for photographing them and making them more attractive to look at.
Q - Tell us a little about your experience of living in Spain, foodwise.
MG – Well as you know Spanish cuisine is a symbol of national identity due to its quality, which is undeniable. My only complaint is that it’s impossible to drink natural juice made on the spot in any cafeteria, made to your taste and in front of you. My wife, who lived in Santo Domingo for about six years is used to Dominican food; it’s a little different with my son because we don’t make Dominican food that often so he is not that familiar with it.
When it comes to my friends, in summary: in Spain it’s difficult to talk about non-Spanish food so it’s a bit complicated for me here, but at the same time people are very open when it comes to trying other types of food and that has to be emphasised, although deep down I think they only do it to convince themselves that they’re still the best [laughs].
And another thing that stops me from cooking Dominican food is that you can’t always find the ingredients you need or when you do, they’re expensive and small. E.g. plantains are very expensive and avocados are ridiculous – horrible, ugly and tiny. You end up having to use what there is but it can end up being too expensive to cook a proper Dominican recipe, I don’t even want to think about how much it would cost to make a sancocho de siete carnes.
Born in the Dominican Republic, 1968, he has worked for the Associated Press/Spain press agency since 2008 and with La Voz De Cádiz from 2007 to 2012. He worked for Associated Press in the Dominican Republic and the border with Haiti from 2000 to 2005 while also contributing to The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, The Boston Globe and others. From 1996 to 2003 he worked for Dominican newspapers Listin Diario and El Caribe, Oh! and Uno magazines, Costa Rican publisher Red Castle Group, and others. In 2003 he received funding from the Fundación Nuevo Periodismo Iberoamericano (FNPI/The New Ibero-American Journalism Foundation) to develop and teach a photojournalism workshop in Guayaquil, Ecuador. He has organised similar courses in Spain and Argentina. He won the Arturo J. Pellerano prize for Excellence in Journalism in 2000 and has received other photographic awards in and outside his country. He has taken part in several individual and collective exhibitions as well as audiovisual projects, books, etc.
Since the start of his photojournalism career in 1998 he has experimented with several aspects of photography and has worked in several countries in Latin America, Europe and Africa. Lives in Cádiz (southern Spain) with his wife Mabel and son David.
Visit Miguel’s Site.
Photo by Joel Alacantara / El Caribe