The other day I happened to meet a former employee at the Dominican embassy in Paris who told me that our sister site Cocina Dominicana played a very useful role in their diplomatic duties in the French capital.
“Whenever we held a reception”, she said, “we wanted to serve food that was typically Dominican, but there was no caterer who could do this for us. There are large numbers of Dominicans living in the city, but none who could offer their services as a chef for the embassy functions. Once we found the website, though, we had a solution. We would simply print off the recipe for empanaditasor quipes and make the dishes ourselves”.
I am sure she won’t mind me sharing this anecdote with you. It shows how far a website can reach, and how much we may be unaware of who is making use of our services! We receive a great deal of feedback from members and readers by e-mail and on the message boards, but these chance meetings and conversations are a reminder of how many people there are out there who might never share their stories with us.
The former embassy worker explained just how important it was for the Dominican embassy to showcase the country’s culinary culture and impress their French guests while pleasing their Dominican attendees at the embassy’s official receptions. Strong praise indeed, bearing in mind that France is an important centre of culinary excellence, and the famous high standards of the French when it comes to appreciating fine food.
I had a quick search on the internet to see what was available in French, and although there are countless sites that mention Dominican cuisine the information provided is far from substantial. There was usually nothing beyond a brief introduction and a small selection of recipes (sancocho seems to be a regular feature), as well as several recommendations to visit a certain food blog we are all familiar with.
She went on to make the suggestion that we open up a French version of the site.
“The Dominican Republic is the most popular holiday destination for French tourists. There has to be an enormous demand for a site in French that presents Dominican cuisine and culture to the outside world the way yours does”.
Well, we are gratified to hear this enthusiastic vote of confidence and encouragement, but have to stress that translating all the material on this site, which now numbers hundreds and hundreds of pages, would be a mammoth and costly task. Aunt Clara started this site as what she describes as “a labour of love”, meaning that the work that goes into producing it is entirely voluntary. We have no funds for such an ambitious project as the translation job, or for putting the new material that we post each week into French as well.
But who knows what the future may hold? Maybe one day we will have overcome these obstacles and will have French added to the list of versions of this blog. Not forgetting that significant numbers of Italian and German speakers are also among the visitors and expatriates in the DR, and their countries of origin are home to many expatriate Dominicans, so there is another direction in which we might at some point find ourselves expanding.
What we can already say is that we have become a sort of virtual Dominican embassy, or a virtual Dominican embassy kitchen at the very least.
By Aunt Ilana
Fried eggplants a la dominicana is a delicious side dish for your meals, it is also easy and quick to make and require few ingredients.
- 2 large eggplants
- 1/4 cup of oil for frying
- 2 tablespoons of milk (or water)
- 4 tablespoons of cornstarch
- 2 large eggs (or 3 medium ones)
- Cut the eggplants into 1/4 inch-thick slices.
- Mix milk (or water), cornstarch, eggs, a pinch of pepper and a teaspoon of salt. Mix well.
- Dip the eggplants in this mixture.
- In a frying pan heat 3 tablespoons of oil.
- Fry the eggplant slices until they turn golden brown, pouring a bit of the batter around them. Add oil by the tablespoons whenever needed.
- Rest on a paper towel to soak excess oil.
- Serve immediately.