Samaná is known for its stunning beauty, and the endless coconut groves that cover it, but there's now something else Samaná wants to be known for.
La ruta del jengibre – the ginger trail - is one of several ecological and agricultural community tourism initiatives dotted across the Dominican Republic.
The idea is to create a tourist attraction based on a local economic activity – in this case the organic ginger crop in the outstanding setting of the Las Galeras/El Rincon area of the Samaná peninsula. In this way the local people become involved in tourism on their own terms, and benefit directly.
Visitors can come and see how ginger is cultivated and walk along special scenic trails, accompanied by local guides who are trained by the Las Galeras based Guariquen community project, funded by Italian governmental and non-governmental organizations. Visitors get the chance to spend time with local people and see how they live and work, and most importantly – sample local food.
Guariquen has also found a way of exporting the ginger to Germany, and they are in the process of obtaining organic and fair trade certification.
Ginger appears in several Dominican recipes: Te de jengibre is a delicious and soothing tea that also has medicinal properties. It is said to aid digestion and benefit the respiratory system.
Desserts like Pan de batata also use ginger as a key ingredient.
Some non-traditional uses include adding ginger to Crema de auyama for an extra kick. The folks at Guariquen also make a simple grated carrot salad with ginger, lime juice and salt, and a spicy ginger candy.
In other parts of the country there are similar ‘trails’ based on other traditional crops like mangoes, coffee and cacao and we hope to feature them in the future.