“Dominicans will eat ANYTHING for breakfast” observed a friend from a European country which shall remain nameless, to protect the guilty. He was watching his Dominican wife tuck into a bowl of soup at the breakfast table. It is true that Dominicans do have some breakfast preferences that to foreign eyes sometimes appear a little eccentric… but let me present the evidence to the jury and put it in an international context.
Exhibit one: casabe with olive oil and garlic – sounds like an extreme tastebud explosion first thing in the morning but I know from first-hand experience that this is common practice in Spain, with toasted bread instead of casabe, to great anti-social effect on your fellow public transport users and co-workers.
Exhibit two – queso frito (fried cheese) and salami – a grease and cholesterol overload which most people cannot take so early in the day. Consider the full English breakfast though: fried sausage, fried bacon, fried egg, fried mushrooms, fried tomatoes and baked beans which for some reason escape the fate of the frying pan.
Exhibit three: mangú – I described it in a previous article as “liquid cement” and I hasten to add that this less than complimentary comparison is a quote from a Dominican (the soup-eater, as it happens). I remain in the British isles for the next piece of evidence for the defence, in the shape of traditional Scottish porridge (oatmeal) in all its gluey and lumpy glory.
The most common breakfast in Dominican homes is simply bread dunked into a cup of coffee or cocoa, which is pretty much universal. Heavy breakfasts of all sorts were more common in the past, when people worked in more physically demanding jobs. In the Dominican Republic if you get up early to work in the fields you will probably need a mangu to keep you going, but if you work in a bank, coffee and a pan de agua is more like it, and the mangu breakfast is saved for weekends or special occasions.
For those with more delicate constitutions, the ideal breakfast while in the Dominican Republic could consist of a plate of tropical fruit: papaya, pineapple, melon, banana, passion fruit or whatever is available. Some nutritional experts consider this the best way to start the day. This is usually my preference but I spoil it by washing it down with a hefty cup of strong black coffee, which tends to cancel out the healthy effect.
So, I rest my case. Dominicans may eat some unusual things at breakfast time but so do many other people in other parts of the world. Learn how to make the traditional Dominican Republic breakfast with our recipes.
What is the strangest thing you have ever been served – or even eaten – for breakfast? I can’t think of anything in particular but I once saw a man in a hotel in Italy eating a huge plate of pasta for breakfast.
Queso frito is a common component of the Dominican breakfast, for this you will need authentic Dominican "queso de freir", a salty, stringy cheese that does not melt easily.
- 12 slices of queso de freir (2" x 3", 1/4" thick)
- 1/4 cup of oil for frying
- 1/2 cup of corn starch
- Heat the oil over medium heat in a frying pan.
- Cover the slices with corn starch and shake off the excess.
- Fry in the hot oil on one side until it turns golden brown.
- Turn and repeat.
- Do not add many slices at the same time as the oil must remain very hot to prevent the cheese from staying in the oil for too long.
- Serve hot with mangú.
A good "queso de freir" will keep its shape when deep fried, but as some times it is not necessarily the case we present you here a simple trick to make it a successful experience.
Fry a test slice, if it melts too quickly then use the cornstarch; if it holds its shape when you fry it just skip that step.
If you cannot find "queso de freir", haloumi is the closest substitute you could use.