From Poetic to Bizarre: 7 odd Dominican Food Names

From Poetic to Bizarre: 7 odd Dominican Food Names: Dominicans put up a good fight when it comes to a nation that finds the oddest names for delicious food.

Brits have their “spotted dicks” and Danes their “burning love” (which frankly sound like the same, er… “socially”-transmitted disease), but Dominicans put up a good fight when it comes to a nation that finds the oddest names for the delicious food.

Here we bring you some of them, going from the poetic to the bizarre, with an obligatory stop on risqué; some are well-known, others not so much. Let’s see how many of these you know.

The rest of the world knows chimichurri as a herb-based sauce from Argentina. To Dominicans the beloved “chimi” is a local burger. Where did the name come from? I have no idea; but if you’re ever outside the D.R. be mindful that you are not going to get the sinfully-delicious, sauce-dripping burger if you are served chimichurri. Unless you are in Washington Heights that is.

Suspiro translates as “sigh” in English. A poetic name that evokes longing and nostalgia, at least in my mind. And yet, in the Dominican Republic suspiro is meringue, something you eat, and merengue is something you dance to. An important distinction to keep in mind at all times.

Rabo encendido
I don’t know if this name is funny or risqué, I guess it depends on one’s mind. Rabo encendido is “tail on fire” in Spanish, and yes, it sounds like the same disease as the dishes in the first paragraph, but get your mind out of the gutter, it is simply a dish based on oxtail in a very spicy sauce. Pretty innocent as it turns out.

Buche’ perico
Add to the list of “disgusting-sounding foods that just got an odd name” (“parrot’s gut”, really?). This corn-based stew hailing from El Cibao is actually worth trying, just don’t get put off by the name. Stick around as we’ll be posting this recipe very soon. Here it is: recipe for buche’ perico.

From Poetic to Bizarre: 7 odd Dominican Food Names: Dominicans put up a good fight when it comes to a nation that finds the oddest names for delicious dishes.

Morir soñando
And back to the poetic. “To die dreaming” sounds like a Shakespeare tragedy, in reality it is the Dominican national drink. Or at least it should be. The very cold mixture of milk and freshly-squeezed orange juice surprises your palate and refreshes your body; as an added bonus, morir soñando is very nutritious.

Mala rabia
You would expect that a dish with this name (“bad rage”) would be fiercely-spicy, and you would be wrong: it is actually a dessert, one made with the strangest combination of ingredients. Mala rabia is a traditional dessert from the Southern DR made from guava, ripe plantains and sweet potatoes (batata) served either in a light syrup or a milk-based sauce. The first time I heard about it I was sure I was having my leg pulled.

Ok, this is an awful name for a food. There’s no two ways about it: it means “dog choker”. The thing is, it is also a pretty logical name for what it is: a coconut-based macaroon-shaped biscuit sold in colmados (corner stores) throughout the Dominican Republic. It is the low-class brother of the coconete, but drier and older. You must always accompany it with a drink, otherwise make sure your companions know how to perform the Heimlich maneuver. You have been warned.

Do you know any other odd names for Dominican food? Time to share.

Aunt Clara


  1. Ana

    I love it listening to all the food and how weird they sound. That is how us Dominican say things. Any one try habichuelas con dulce

  2. Cgirl

    Hahahaha! this is so funny to read! specially the English version.
    I wonder what’s in the mind of foreigners when they hear those names the first time…

  3. Catherine

    I still haven’t been able to convince the canadians around me (more specifically: quebecquers) to try my morisoñando. Every time I make it they go “ewwww”, and me? well, too bad so sad, that means there’s more for me 😀

  4. Sandra Paez

    Gracias Tia Clara por esas aclaraciones 😉 La verdad que nosotros los dominicanos somos muy creativos y raros a la vez cuando se trata de ponerle nombres a nuestros platos :)

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