Brits have their “spotted dicks” and Danes their “burning love” (Brændende Kærlighed)* (which frankly sound like the same, er… “socially”-transmitted disease), but Dominicans put up a good fight when it comes to giving the oddest names to delicious foods.
Here we bring you some of them, going from the poetic to the bizarre, with an obligatory stop on risqué; some are well-known, others not so much. Let’s see how many of these you know.
The rest of the world knows chimichurri as a herb-based sauce from Argentina. To Dominicans, the beloved “chimi” is a local burger. Where did the name come from? I have no idea; but if you’re ever outside the D.R. be mindful that you are not going to get the sinfully delicious, sauce-dripping burger if you are served chimichurri. Unless you are in Washington Heights that is.
Suspiro translates as “sigh” in English. A poetic name that evokes longing and nostalgia, at least in my mind. And yet, in the Dominican Republic suspiro is meringue, something you eat, and merengue is something you dance to. An important distinction to keep in mind at all times.
I don’t know if this name is funny or risqué, I guess it depends on one’s mind. Rabo encendido is “tail on fire” in Spanish, and yes, it sounds like another of those unmentionable diseases, but get your mind out of the gutter, it’s simply a dish based on oxtail, cooked in a very spicy sauce. Pretty innocent as it turns out.
Add to the list of “disgusting-sounding foods that just got an odd name” (“parrot’s gut”, really? — OK, technically it’s the parrot’s crop, where they store the food, not that this is any better a name). This corn-based stew hailing from El Cibao is actually worth trying, just don’t get put off by the name. Stick around as we’ll be posting this recipe very soon. Here it is: recipe for buche’ perico.
And back to the poetic. “To die dreaming” sounds like a Shakespeare tragedy, in reality, it is the Dominican national drink. Or at least it should be. The very cold mixture of milk and freshly-squeezed orange juice surprises your palate and refreshes your body; as an added bonus, morir soñando is very nutritious.
You would expect that a dish with this name (“bad rage”) would be fiercely-spicy, and you would be wrong: it is actually a dessert, one made with the strangest combination of ingredients. Mala rabia is a traditional dessert from the Southern DR made from guava, ripe plantains and sweet potatoes (batata) served either in a light syrup or a milk-based sauce. The first time I heard about it I was sure I was having my leg pulled.
Ok, this is an awful name for a food. There are no two ways about it: it means “dog choker”. The thing is, it is also a pretty logical name for what it is: a coconut-based macaroon-shaped biscuit sold in colmados (corner stores) throughout the Dominican Republic. It is a kind of low-rent version of the coconete, drier and older. You must always accompany it with a drink, otherwise, make sure your companions know how to perform the Heimlich maneuver. You have been warned.
Do you know any other odd names for Dominican food? Time to share.
* And on the subject of dishes with names that sound like STDs, there’s also the Scottish Festy Cock, the American Lumpy Dick, and the Brazilian Buraco Quente or hot hole.