As we all know, a new age of airport security is upon us, as we adjust to the various new stringent measures in place: profiling, nosy questions, long line-ups, and the meat & veggie frisks. The meat & veggie frisks, you ask? Yes, it’s true! 600 kilos of meat are confiscated weekly at DR airports, not to mention 2,400 kilos of vegetables, also weekly. Uh, that’s a lot of food, people.
I never dreamed that the bag of guandules hidden amidst my underwear would be cause for concern, but with the figures quoted above, apparently I’m not the only smuggler of edible contraband. Years ago, it would not have been uncommon to see passengers on flights out of the DR with pots of sancocho, clutched tightly to prevent spillage, on their laps. An aromatic chivo picante for the family abroad was neither unusual. A little down home cooking does wonders to abate a bad case of homesickness, but, alas, the hard-hearted folks at US Customs have put their priorities above ours.
So what can you have brought to you to remind you of home? I always ask for some sazon completo – a miracle ingredient that Dominicanizes any meal. Mistolin will perfume your kitchen DR-style too. But apart from these things, there isn’t much else for the kitchen that you can transport abroad lawfully. The answer must be more rum, I suppose, to make you forget all the things that you would have liked: honey, mangoes, and avocados, to name but a few of the verboten tastes of the motherland.
We had a huge bottle of mamajuana sent to us recently that, miraculously, did not raise any eyebrows at the security check. It was one of those monstrous gallon-bottles, sensationally over-wrapped in newspaper and bearing more resemblance to a bomb than anything else. Under the new code of air travel we may therefore deduce that bomb-like bottles of alcohol are OK, but a little pollo guisado is, sadly, not. Bottoms up!
DISCLAIMER: Aunt Jane does not in any way, implicit or explicit, condone the export of items not approved by US Customs to locations outside of the Dominican Republic. While she wishes that such laws did not exist, she realizes that said laws are in place to protect and preserve the health and welfare of its citizens, as annoying as they are. The laws, that is…. not the citizens themselves.
Jill, a member of our original team (where we knew her as Aunt Jane), and contributor to our book, is Canadian, mom to two Canadian-Dominican boys and resided in the Dominican Republic for several years.
- 1 tablespoon of oil (soy, corn or peanut)
- 2 lb [0.9 kg] of bony beef (any inexpensive cut with bones)
- 3 qt [3 lt] of water
- 1 1/4 teaspoon of salt , or to taste
- 6 allspice berries
- 1/2 teaspoon of oregano
- 2 cloves of garlic , crushed
- 1/4 teaspoon of pepper , or to taste
- 1 lb [0.45 kg] waxy potatoes , diced
- 1 lb [0.45 kg] of cassava (yuca), diced
- 1 lb [0.45 kg] of auyama (West Indian pumpkin), diced
- 3 sprigs of cilantro , chopped
In a large pot heat the oil over medium heat. Add the meat and brown. Pour in 2 qt [2 lt] of water. Add a teaspoon of salt, allspice, oregano, garlic, and a pinch of pepper.
Simmer covered until the meat is very soft and falling off the bones. Add water as it becomes necessary to keep the same volume.
Add the potato, yuca and auyama. Simmer covered until everything is cooked through.
Add the cilantro and season with salt and pepper to taste. Remove the clean bones from the soup.
Remove from heat and serve immediately.