There are some undying traditions and customs in our country. One that doesn’t seem to be disappearing any time soon is the custom of stopping midway in the way in or out of La Capital to eat something or to buy something to bring our family.
No trip in or out of El Cibao is complete without a stop in Parada Tavera to buy queso de hoja, a salty cheese similar to mozzarella that we usually eat with our Dominican crackers (thick, round and low-salt). Another typical midway food is boruga, a curdled milk drink. My favorite road stop for the best boruga is El Turey.
Some prefer to stop for something heartier: it’s not rare to find people having an artery-popping breakfast of pork sausages, cracklings, roast chicken and tostones (fried plantains), guineitos (boiled unripe bananas) or yuca (cassava) as early as 6:00 a.m. If they happen to be traveling by guagua (bus) the smell will also accompany them all the way to their destination, not necessarily a bad thing altogether.
Nobody should arrive back home without bringing some canquiña (hard coconut candy wrapped in green and white striped paper) and raspadura (milk candy, wrapped in palm tree husk) bought in Jacaranda. There’s also dulce de naranja, a dark soft candy made with orange peels that only seem to be found in these road stops. But the capital of dulces (desserts), strangely, is not Bonao but Baní in the southwest. Las Marias, an old road stop, specializes in selling typical Dominican desserts. Definitely a must-try if you ever happen to be traveling west.
Ah, and don’t forget to bring me something from your trip…
Dulce de leche y piña (milk and pineapple fudge) is a very simple dessert, you don’t need to be an advanced cook to tackle this one.
My favorite aspect of this is that it combines different textures (from the soft, creamy sauce to the chewiness of the pineapple) and also different flavors (sweet and sour). Prepare enough to fill a small jar and you’ll have the perfect hostess gift to bring along at your next dinner invitation.
- 6 cups of milk
- 1½ cups of sugar
- 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
- 3 cups of pineapple cut into cubes
- 3 cinnamon sticks
- 1 teaspoon of lime peels
- In a thick-bottom pot boil mix milk, cinnamon and 1 cup of sugar and boil over medium heat until the milk has reduced to a third in volume.
- Remove from heat and chill (after letting it cool down to room temperature).
- In another pot boil the pineapple with a quart of water, vanilla, lime peels, and the remaining sugar until the pineapple is really soft, with the consistency of a jam (add more water as it becomes necessary).
- Let all the liquid evaporate and remove from the heat, then chill.
- Mix the milk and pineapple. Serve chilled.